There's an epic quality to "Magic City," with its large look and larger emotions. Embodying that perfectly is Danny Huston, with his portrayal of evil Ben Diamond. The show returns Friday (June 14); here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Sometimes an actor subtly immerses in a
role. He finds pieces of his own soul to share with a character.
Then there are the times when he just
has to settle for make-believe. Danny Huston knows the feeling, when
he plays Ben Diamond, the epic villain of cable's “Magic City.”
Diamond enjoys secretly watching his
wife and her young lover. “I can't connect with that emotion,”
Huston said with a grin.
Nor can he connect with hushing his
wife's dog by shooting it. Or hushing a labor strike by killing the
union leader. Or many of the other things this guy has done so far.
“Last season, Ben Diamond was
basically the great white shark of crime,” said Mitch Glazer, the
“Magic City” creator. As silent partner in an elegant hotel in
late-1950s Miami Beach – he spread fear.
The role requires a lot of acting …
which has, by accident, become Huston's prime skill. Growing up, he
said, “I had no interest in acting.”
He wanted to be a director like his
father (John Huston), not an actor like his grandfather (Walter). He
drew some praise directing “Mr.North” at 26, but other projects
keep being held up. At 33, in “Leaving Las Vegas,” he made what
was virtually his acting debut. “I was Bartender No. 2,” Huston
recalled.. “Not even Bartender No. 1.”
Better roles followed, sometimes using
his stature Six-foot-2 and broad-shouldered, Huston brings a
commanding presence. He's been in classy films (“The Aviator,”
“The Constant Gardener”); he's played powerful people, real
(King Richard the Lionheart, Samuel Adams, Emperor Joseph II) and not
All of those could be perfect
preparation for playing the commanding Ben Diamond. Once big with
Havana casinos, his life shrank when Fidel Castro took over Cuba. Now
he hangs around the beach, intimidating people. “In a way,”
Huston said,“Ben Diamond is like a fallen emperor.”
And in the second season, he has new
problems. “ We meet Sy Berman, the Mob boss above him.
Sy is played by James Caan, long-ago
star of another film (“The Godfather”) that included the colorful
Miami Mob days.
That era invites elaborate attention to
the clothes, the hair and the fictional hotel. The “Magic City”
details ares “so real that I think when extras come onto our set,
they try to check into the hotel,” said Kelly Lynch, who plays an
To do the eight episodes, actors spend
four months in Miami. This is not what Huston considers a hardship.
“I live a very nomadic existence,” he said.
He mas born in Rome, grew up in
Ireland, went to boarding school in England, saw his father make
films around the world. He's seen Hollywood's giants; his
grandfather, father and half-sister (Anjelica) all have Academy
Danny Huston doesn't have an Oscar so
far. He did, however, get a Golden Globe nomination for playing Ben
Diamond … a role that requires a LOT of acting.
– “Magic City,” 9 p.m. Fridays,
– Opener, June 14, reruns at 10 and
11 p.m.,; then at 9 and 11:40 p.m. Saturday; 8 and 11:20 p.m. Sunday;
9 and 11:45 p.m. Monday, June 17.
– The eight first-season hours rerun
in three chunk – 8-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (June 11-12) and
8-10 p.m. Thursday.