The women of Ray Donovan


Imagine you’re a famous singer who wakes up one morning only to find a dead girl laying next to you. What do you do? Who do you call? Well, if you live in the world of the hit Showtime series, Ray Donovan, then the show’s namesake is the guy you need. Ray Donovan is the ultimate Hollywood “fixer” who can make nearly any problem go away. However, while he may be able to solve his client’s problems, the problems within his personal life, especially involving his family, are not so easy to work out. And Ray is nothing if not a man very devoted to his family, problems and all.

While the show largely centers around Ray and other male characters such as his brothers, his father, and his male clientele, it is not without some incredibly strong and dynamic female characters. Between Ray’s steadfast wife, rebellious daughter, resourceful assistant, and the other various women who disrupt his life, these are women who help give the show that little something extra that makes it the success that it is. Keep reading to find out more about the ladies of Ray Donovan, and the talented actresses who play them!

Paula Malcomson as Abby Donovan

Paula Malcomson plays the role of Ray’s wife, Abby Donovan. While not always treated with the respect she deserves, this is a character who is truly the matriarch of the Donovan family, and the glue that holds all of them together. She exhibits loyalty, strength, and vulnerability. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she is fiercely protective of those she loves. Fans across the board were devastated to witness (spoiler alert) Abby’s death in the show’s fifth season, after the character’s emotional battle with cancer. Abby’s illness, and eventual death, showed just how important she was to the other members of the Donovan family, and it allowed audiences to see just how much Ray sincerely does care for his wife underneath the rough exterior he shows the world.

Paula Malcomson in real life

Malcomson is originally from Belfast, Ireland, a fact you might never know after hearing her very convincing Boston accent on the show. Before Ray Donovan, the actress had already built up an impressive acting résumé. Malcomson is known for her roles on series such as ER, Sons of Anarchy, and Caprica, as well as her part in the Hunger Games franchise in the role of Katniss’ mother. In interviews she has expressed her feminist values and her desire to play dynamic female roles. After exiting the show, she shared that it is her plan to do exactly that and seek out those roles. Today, you can find her on the brand new series, Krypton, in the part of Charys-El.

Katherine Moennig as Lena

Every fixer needs a good assistant, which exactly who Moennig plays in her role as Lena. Lena is Ray’s right-hand woman, taking care of his office and research work. The help she gives him is often invaluable. Whether it be keeping tabs on necessary information, removing crazy girlfriends from his home, intercepting drug addicts from making a scene, or helping his wife cope with cancer, Lena is Ray’s go-to girl. She is tough and practical, loves women, and has a take no prisoners type of an attitude.

Katherine Moennig in real life

Moennig already had a strong fan base before she joined the cast of Ray Donovan. She a somewhat gender-ambiguous Jacqueline in the series, Young Americans, and had a number of guest spots on shows like Law and Order. However, she is best known for her role on the hit series, The L Word, where she played the part of heartbreaker Shane for the entire series. She has been romantically linked to number of women over the years, including actress Evan Rachel Wood, but as of now remains a single woman.

Katie Holmes as Paige Finney

Joining the show in its third season, Katie Holmes’ portrayal of Paige easily became the season’s most talked about character. Paige is the daughter of a cutthroat billionaire who used less than conventional methods to get Ray to work for him, and she’s just as tough as her father. The character also garnered attention for the braces on her teeth: sitting down with Good Morning America, Holmes explained that while they’re meant to alleviate some of Paige’s torturous migraines, they also show she’s flawed and “not exactly what you see.”

Katie Holmes in real life

At this point in her career, Katie Holmes’ name and face are very well-known in Hollywood. She first became famous after playing the sarcastic Joey on the hit show Dawson’s Creek, and became even more famous after marrying a-list actor Tom Cruise, before divorcing him after six years and gaining of their daughter, Suri. Rumor has it that Holmes is currently in a romantic relationship with singer and actor, Jamie Foxx. However, the two private stars have yet to confirm the rumors, and tend to emphasize their friendship instead.

Alyssa Diaz as Teresa

Joining the cast in season three, Diaz took on the recurring role of Teresa. A tough female pro wrestler, this character catches the eye of Ray Donovan’s younger brother Bunchy. This is one of the few couples on the show that had fans really rooting for them, and eventually Teresa and Bunchy get married. Later, viewers watched as the strong woman battled postpartum depression and abandoned her baby, a storyline whose complex portrayal has garnered Diaz a fair amount of praise from both viewers and critics.

Alyssa Diaz in real life

While she is a California native, Alyssa Diaz proudly boasts her Colombian and Mexican heritage. While she has a long list of credits to her name, the role that truly brought her into the spotlight was in Army Wives, where fans delighted in seeing a Latina actress take on a main role in the series. She has also had parts in popular shows such as The Vampire Diaries, Zoo, and Frequency. It was recently announced that she will be taking on a new role in ABC’s upcoming show, The Rookie.

Lisa Bonet as Marisol

Entering in the fourth season, Bonet took on the role of Marisol, a traumatized woman with a substance addiction. As if the addiction weren’t enough, Marisol is also engaged in an intimate relationship with her half brother, Hector. She attempts to use the sensitive information she has on Hector to extort him, and plans to go public about their relationship. However, her plans end up being thwarted by Ray and Lena. Hector, scared about what Marisol might do, decides to kill her, ultimately drowning her in a bathtub.

Lisa Bonet in real life

Veteran actress Lisa Bonet is probably best known for her iconic role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show and its spin off, A Different World. Her role on The Cosby Show even earned her an Emmy nomination in 1988. Her first marriage was to singer Lenny Kravitz, but they ended up divorcing in 1993. Recently, Bonet married her longtime boyfriend, actor and heartthrob Jason Mamoa, DC’s new Aquaman. The couple have two children together, in addition to Bonet’s daughter from her previous marriage.

Brooke Smith as Frances

Smith was cast in the first season in the recurring role of Frances, a caring and ambitious nurse. Smith’s interactions are mostly with the character Terry Donovan, Ray’s brother, who is battling Parkinson’s disease and ends up with Frances as his nurse. The two begin a romance, despite the fact that Frances is married, something she initially neglects to tell him. Later after Terry gets sent to prison, their relationship fizzles out when Frances distances herself from him by refusing to answer his letters.

Brooke Smith in real life

While Smith has been in numerous shows and movies, the part that really got her recognized by the public was her role as Dr. Erica Hahn on the popular series, Grey’s Anatomy. Following her time on Ray Donovan, she has had significant roles in the show Bates Motel, as well as Bosch, and guest appearances on shows such as Supergirl. Smith has been married since 1999 to Steven Lubensky, a Russian cinematographer, and the couple have two children together.

Vinessa Shaw as Katherine McPherson

Shaw’s character, Kate McPherson, is a major part of the plot for the show’s second season. Kate is a top notch journalist searching for the truth, and who will do anything to get her story. Her character is fairly antagonistic to Ray Donovan and his family, as she is pursuing a story that involves their criminal activities. Yet despite this, Kate develops a romantic relationship with Ray. Unfortunately, Kate’s investigating gets her into trouble and she ends up being killed by Ray’s associates, who are scared what she might expose.

Vinessa Shaw in real life

While the actress is now in her 40s, most fans will likely remember Vinessa Shaw from her breakout role as the teenager Allison in Disney’s hit, Hocus Pocus. She has had parts in a large number of other movies and shows, including 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Hills Have Eyes, 3:10 to Yuma, and Vegas. Last year she married her boyfriend, Kristopher Gifford, and recently the happy couple celebrated the birth of their son, Jack.

Susan Sarandon as Samantha Winslow

Entering the show in its fifth season, Sarandon takes on the role of the powerful and bossy Samantha “Sam” Winslow. Sam is one of the top media tycoons who also runs a Hollywood studio. She ends up hiring Ray Donovan to “fix” certain things for her and help her take care of business. Sarandon plays the character as someone who is completely shameless, and is not afraid of being in charge. It’s currently unknown if viewers will see Sam return in the upcoming sixth season, although many fans are hoping she will!

Susan Sarandon in real life

Susan Sarandon is up there with some of the top actresses in Hollywood. Over the course of her career she has been nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes, SAGs, and Emmys, and won the Oscar for her work in Dead Man Walking. She is also known for her iconic role in Thelma and Louise, as well as her roles in Rocky Horror Picture Show, Stepmom, The Banger Sisters, and Feud. While her outspoken nature has brought about some controversy in her career, Sarandon has a solid fan base spanning multiple generations.

Embeth Davidtz as Sonia Kovitzky

Davidtz joined the cast for the show’s fourth season as Sonia Kovitzky, a posh art dealer in need of Ray Donovan’s brand of help. Over the course of her character’s arc, Sonia ultimately develops feelings for Ray, and the two have some romantic encounters with one another. One encounter in particular made headlines due to its decision to not only show Sonia’s nudity, but to also show her scars from a mastectomy. Both Davidtz and the show were hailed for being brave enough to put the scene out there for the public.

Embeth Davidtz in real life

Davidtz first caught the public’s eye for her role as Helen Hirsch in the award winning film, Schindler’s List. She has also had roles in Matilda, Bicentennial Man, Californication, and Mad Men. In 2013, the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer, for which she underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments. Her character on Ray Donovan was not originally written to be a cancer survivor, but after revealing to the writers her potential issues with a nude scene, the character was changed to help reflect Davidtz’ own experiences.

Kerris Dorsey as Bridget Donovan

Dorsey plays the role of Bridget Donovan, the daughter of Ray and Abby. While she’s intelligent and ambitious, the character has a tendency to fall for men who get her into trouble. In some ways Bridget wants to distance herself from the darker world surrounding her family, but she also deeply loves and cares for them. Her character’s growth comes through in the fifth season, where she takes on a more mature role, steps up to care for her ailing mother, and handles the fall out from her eventual death.

Kerris Dorsey in real life

Ray Donovan is hardly this young actress’ first time on television. As a child Dorsey, appeared in a number of small roles on TV, and in movies. In 2006, she began her first big role playing the part of Paige Whedon on the show Brothers and Sisters for all five seasons. She has also appeared in the critically acclaimed film Moneyball with actor Brad Pitt, as well as the children’s movie, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day alongside actor Steve Carell.