'Magic City' Premiere: Jeffrey Dean Morgan Previews Season 2 Changes And Working With James Caan

'Magic City' Gets 'Darker, Crazier And More Vicious'

"Magic City" Season 2 premieres Friday, June 14 (9 p.m. ET on Starz), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan promises that the new year brings a story that's "darker, crazier and more vicious" than anything we saw last season (which featured blackmail, murder and voyeuristic sex acts on a weekly basis). Plus, Season 2 boasts Oscar nominee James Caan returning to his "Godfather" roots as a Chicago mobster whom Morgan simply describes as "a scary dude."

So what lengths will Ike Evans (Morgan) go to in order to rid his Miramar Playa Hotel of the mob and Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston)? And will his long-shot gamble tear the Evans family apart? Find out what Morgan told HuffPost TV to expect from "Magic City" Season 2 below.

Last time we saw Ike, he was in jail for murder, with State Attorney Jack Klein (Matt Ross) determined to throw away the key. Where does the beginning of Season 2 find him? I'm guessing the whole season isn't set with Ike in jail ...
[Laughs.] No, no -- we have to get Ike out of jail or I don’t know, the show will turn into “Oz.” So he gets out rather quickly ... because he needs to get to the business at hand .. This season, it’s all about getting Ben Diamond out of his hotel and ending that partnership by whatever means necessary.

He started pushing those pieces into place by partnering with his ex-sister-in-law Meg (Kelly Lynch) last season. Does she have a bigger part to play this year because of that deal?
Meg is now a very minority owner in [the hotel] and she has a more substantial role in the show and certainly in Ike’s life this year, which is an interesting relationship in itself. That dynamic is a very interesting dynamic, especially if you’re looking at it from Vera’s [Olga Kurylenko] point of view. Some sparks will fly there, but ... I think what we established last year in Ike being this family man that’s trying to do good while running this business; this year, he falls behind on his family duties and it becomes this singular vision of getting rid of Ben Diamond. And along with Ben Diamond, now we’ve got Jimmy Caan playing Sy Berman. So Ike’s life gets very complicated and he goes much more to the dark side this year. I think he remains this guy that wants to do right, but he is definitely not walking that fine line that he did last year quite as well.

Right. He spent most of last season managing to avoid getting his hands dirty, and then he ruined it all by killing Jimmy Shoes (Arron Shiver) to protect Judi Silver (Elena Satine). Will we see Ike continuing to take matters into his own hands this season?
Yeah, I think he gets his hands dirtier. He has to start playing the game that these other guys are playing, [that] the mob is playing, in order to break out and get rid of this element in his life. The problem is, Ike is very adept at it. He’s a guy that is able to slip into that world and live there comfortably, which was kind of interesting, I thought. Last year, the audience didn’t know really what Ike was up to a lot of the time and this year, the audience will be in on Ike’s plan and his thought process a lot more, which is great because you’ll see that Ike is two moves ahead of these guys at all times -- which is not to say that he doesn’t have some super close calls, but you can see what he’s thinking, which adds a lot more to his character and being able to see what he’s up to instead of just having to guess.

It also seems like Ike's wife, Vera, is going to start wising up to the fact that he's painted himself into a corner ...
She starts putting some pieces together and it gets to the point that Ike has to come clean with what’s going on, for two reasons. One is, well, their relationship is under a lot of strain so there’s that element, like, “Here’s the truth. You need to know the truth.” The other [reason] is in still trying to keep her safe and out of harm’s way. That’s why he has to tell her -- but his family relationships, both with Vera and his sons, become incredibly strained this year and he goes from being this ... very good family man to someone who very well may end up alone.

One of the best moments of the finale came after Ben Diamond discovered that Ike's son, Stevie (Steven Strait), was sleeping with his wife -- but instead of killing Stevie, Ben watched the two of them have sex. Is Ike going to become aware of that affair and some of Stevie's questionable activities?
Stevie goes into a whole other level of kind of stupidity this year. [Laughs.] If that wasn’t dumb enough, what he was doing, he does even crazier things this year that Ike does find out about. So that relationship becomes incredibly, incredibly strained and I think Stevie goes from being the good son as he was touted last year to ... not a good son. And Ike is aware of a lot of the stuff that he’s doing and tries to change it, with questionable results. Then Danny is a whole other piece ...

Right, because Danny (Christian Cooke) thinks he's doing the noble thing, wanting to follow the law, but that path and trusting Jack Klein is obviously going to put him on a collision course with his father.
Right -- [the path seems noble] for a guy that’s after Ike. Jack's whole goal is to get Ike Evans. So, yeah, Ike is getting it from all sides, including his own sons.

It sounds as if Ike's leaving Miami for a bit and heading to Havana. Can you preview how the new setting and the casinos there play into Ike's plot?
Yeah, it’s all part of Ike’s plan to get rid of Ben, and he hatches a plan that has to do with the casinos in Havana and Sy Berman. And so Ike has to go to Cuba and try to drum up some business in order to get Sy Berman to help him to get Ben Diamond out of his hotel essentially. It’s a very smart plan that Ike comes up with and I don’t know how much I’m allowed to even talk about. It’s a brilliant plan and it was certainly fun to play out as an actor with these other fine actors, but I remember as I was reading it, going, "Wow. That is super devious and sort of crazy and yet incredibly smart.” So I will be interested to see how the audience reacts to it.

What does James Caan's character, Sy, bring to the story -- and what was your experience of working with him?
Well, Jimmy Caan plays a guy, Sy Berman, who runs the Chicago outfit, which is where Ben Diamond came from. He sort of created Ben Diamond. Sy gets brought into the mix, one, to kind of figure out what the fuck is going on with Ben Diamond, because Ben Diamond has become such a loose cannon. I bring him into the mix for my own reasons and I can’t tell you, but there’s another thing going on with Sy Berman and another character in the show that is completely fascinating and crazy. But what he brings to the table is balls, you know?

He’s a brilliant actor and a hell of a personality, but what he brings is an intensity. And to work with him is ... I’m not going to lie, my first scene with him, I was a little bit nervous going in. That hasn’t happened in a long time, but I had butterflies because I was working with Sonny Corleone and the relationship I had with him was also a little volatile. So to do scenes with him -- and he’d get very intense in scenes and Ike has to stay toe to toe with him. So it quickly wore off because he’s such gregarious and sweet and wonderful man, but man, when he’s in character, Sy Berman is a scary dude.

He has an ability to go toe to toe with me and Houston, as actors, something which that role needed desperately, because otherwise, he’d be eaten alive. So to have someone of his caliber, that was a necessity from an acting standpoint, but he also knows what he’s doing and brings so much more than what is on the page to what he is doing. So I think what he brings to the show in itself is another level of intensity. I think it certainly steps up the stakes from last year. I think the last four episodes of last year our story really kicked in -- we spent like four episodes kind of introducing this world, and the last four were really moving and that’s where we leave off this year. Each episode gets bigger and the stakes are raised and it gets darker and crazier and more vicious. Certainly, he has something to do with that.

"Magic City" Season 2 premieres Friday, June 14 at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.

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