Is (spoiler) really dead? 'Ray Donovan' star Liev Schreiber on movie's mysterious ending

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Spoiler alert for all Ray Dono fans who have not yet watched "Ray Donovan: The Movie": This story reveals major plot points.

Is Ray Donovan really dead?

In the final moments of the "Ray Donovan: The Movie," which premiered on Showtime Friday and offers a true finale for the seven-season series that ended last January, Ray (Liev Schreiber) nods off in the back of an ambulance. He'd been bleeding for hours after Molly Sullivan (Kerry Condon) shot him in the stomach when she learned her father died.

An underwater shot then shows a young man swimming to the surface. Schreiber, as the adult Ray, emerges. The moment wraps a 100-minute movie spurred in part by fan outrage when the series was canceled. Schreiber says when Showtime axed the series, centered on Boston-born and bred Donovan, who became a "fixer" for Los Angeles' elite, he felt conflicted. "I was tired, and I was looking for a break," he admits. "When the initial shock wore off, I was upset because we hadn't finished the story."

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Liev Schreiber returns to his role as celebrity fixer Ray Donovan for a Showtime feature.
Liev Schreiber returns to his role as celebrity fixer Ray Donovan for a Showtime feature.

Schreiber co-wrote the movie with executive producer and director David Hollander. Schreiber says the two didn't argue about Ray's fate but debated killing Mickey, Ray's dad, played by Jon Voight.

The troublemaking Mickey, an emotionally absent father who had long plagued his family, is shot by his granddaughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey), after Ray apologizes to his dad for framing him for murder all those years ago. "It had to stop," Bridget says coldly of Mickey's wreckage, explaining her actions to Ray, her father. Schreiber says Mickey's death "felt like the right ending of this chapter of that story."

The actor spoke with USA TODAY about how he interprets the movie's ending, whether fans can expect another installment of 'Ray Donovan' and why Ray and Mickey finally buried the hatchet.

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

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Jon Voight's character Mickey Donovan is fatally shot by his granddaughter, Bridget, in "Ray Donovan: The Movie."
Jon Voight's character Mickey Donovan is fatally shot by his granddaughter, Bridget, in "Ray Donovan: The Movie."

Question: Is Ray dead? What does the ending mean?

Liev Schreiber: Best I can tell, and from the information that I have from the powers that be, they want that to be an open question, and I think you can interpret it or see it how you like. For me, the intention as a writer was to feel that we had reached the end of a chapter, we had reached the end of our journey with this family.

That open-ended question is intentional. Like, where would you take it? How does it fit in your life? Does that feel like the end of someone's life or the beginning?

Q: So there's a chance that Ray's alive and that we could get more ''Ray Donovan?"

Schreiber: Yeah, I think there is. He looks like he's alive when the ambulance door closes, right?

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"Ray Donovan: The Movie" star/co-writer Liev Schreiber says Ray's fate after being shot in the torso is open to interpretation.
"Ray Donovan: The Movie" star/co-writer Liev Schreiber says Ray's fate after being shot in the torso is open to interpretation.

Q: How do you interpret the end when Ray emerges from the pool in his suit?

Schreiber: When I was acting it, the way I was thinking about it is, you know when people have out-of-body experiences? That's what that was. We spent all this time on these two-time continuums: one is old Ray, and one is present Ray. For me, it felt like that wasn't so much a ghost of Ray, but it was the conscience and consciousness of Ray seeing things separate from them.

Q: What does the water symbolize?

Schreiber: There's a new, clean Ray. It's a baptism. In the Roman Catholic tradition, which Ray is from, there's that sense of revival and renewal and confession. Getting that piece off of his chest (forgiving his father) creates a shiny, new Ray, in a way.

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Mickey Donovan (Bill Heck) is arrested after being setup by his son, Ray.
Mickey Donovan (Bill Heck) is arrested after being setup by his son, Ray.

Q: Let's talk about Ray forgiving his dad. At one point, in the movie, Ray attempts to shoot Mickey, but he has no more bullets in the chamber. But by the end of the film, they make up. Tell me about the complex emotions Ray is feeling at the end of his dad's life.

Schreiber: Over the course of that journey to Boston, he has a series of memories by returning to the scene of the crime. He starts to realize slowly the role he played in his father's demise, like his own anger. Sending his father away to Walpole (prison) for 20-something years, and how that will harden a person as well.

As (Ray) remembers how hard his own life was, he begins to understand how hard his father's life was, and he realizes that wonderful thing that hopefully we realize in our life is that the best you can do is forgive them and move on. For years, I thought my mom did a terrible job. Then I had kids, and I realized, no, it's really hard, and you do your best.

Mortality will also do that to you. I had just lost my own father, oddly enough, when we were (making) this. It really makes you see things differently when someone is no longer around. Ray being shot and realizing the potential for his own death... The most important thing he can do in that moment is to absolve his father, who he's accused his whole life of being the source of all his trouble. That's a very emotional place for (Ray) to be because I don't think he thinks he's going to survive that gunshot wound.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ray Donovan movie ending: Liev Schreiber on that BIG (potential) death