It’s tough to be Ray: Liev Schreiber digs into the highs and lows of his Showtime role

While Schreiber’s stoic alter ego, Ray Donovan, is no stranger to heartache and unrelenting lawlessness, the new season of the series (which airs on Sundays) dials it up.

If ever there were a time Liev Schreiber wished he could enlist the lawfully questionable problem-solving acumen of Ray Donovan, the titular Hollywood fixer he has portrayed with skillful intensity for multiple seasons on Showtime, the moment would be now.

It’s a balmy Friday afternoon in Venice, and Schreiber has had little to no sleep. He wrapped production on Season 5 of “Ray Donovan” around 5 a.m. and now, slightly bleary-eyed, he must contend with packing up the beachside rental home he’s been occupying for a few weeks before heading to New York.

“God, I wish I could get (stuff) done, I’m pathetic,” Schreiber says with an understated smirk while seated in the patio. “I have so much moving to do today. Where’s Ray? I’d say: ‘I don’t need you to beat up anybody. I don’t need you to go drinking. I don’t need you to have sex. I just need you to pack this (damn) house, Ray.’”

The truth of it is, Ray probably would prefer that chore over all that he endures in the fifth season of the drama.

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While Schreiber’s stoic alter ego is no stranger to heartache and unrelenting lawlessness — not to mention the bruises and family chaos that result — the new season of the series (which airs on Sundays) dials it up, to say the least. To say more about where the show picks up would hamper the experience — but we can say Susan Sarandon is playing a top studio head in a seasonlong guest star arc.

“I think the wheels really come off this season,” Schreiber says. “(Executive producer) David (Hollander) and I talked about it; how do we initiate some change, some massive seismic shift in this character and in this world? And, well, you take the ground out from beneath them.”

That he’s even talking about this character five seasons in is only somewhat surprising to Schreiber.

In the course of his 20-plus-year-career, the actor — who has played roles ranging from a brawny mutant (Sabretooth in the “Wolverine” franchise) and a steadfast newspaper editor (“Spotlight”) to a scrupulous salesman (Broadway’s “Glengarry Glen Ross”) — had looked to television as a means of creating a home base for his family. (Schreiber has two sons — 9-year-old…

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