If you haven’t yet caught the cult hit series Banshee (Fridays, 10/9c on Cinemax beginning tonight), Season 3 promises more over-the-top sex and violence than ever.

New Zealand native Antony Starr plays the anti-hero, a conman fresh out of prison who fortuitously assumes the identity of murdered small-town sheriff Lucas Hood. Set in Pennsylvania Amish country, the pulpy plot just blows up from there.

Last season’s finale served up record numbers for Cinemax, so we tracked down Starr to get the scoop on the show’s adrenalized appeal, sexy co-stars and what’s to come…

“With our show, when anything looks like it’s going good, you have to find a way to make it go bad, and we do.”

Oscar-winning writer [American Beauty] and now Banshee exec producer Alan Ball describes the show as high-octane entertainment, violent, clever, yet complex. Could you expand?
Our series exists in a hyper-real world. We realize we exist in this heightened universe, and audiences are buying into it. But one of the great things about Banshee is that when we have very dramatic moments, we then have a taste of something different, just to remind us it’s not real. It’s all in good fun.

Ivana Milicevic, who plays your former lover and partner-in-crime, says the sex scenes are awkward and ridiculous…
Let’s face it, it’s an 18-and-over audience, it’s not a kids’ show. The nature of pulp is that there’s sex and there’s violence. But I don’t know any actor who doesn’t dislike the sex scenes. It’s never going to be something where you’re totally comfortable and having a wonderful time, because it’s a very intimate space to be put into. But all of us actors are in the same boat, and we’re all experiencing the same anxieties. Fortunately, we’ve got a great cast and a fantastic bunch of people that make all that sort of stuff as painless as it can be.

Now that your vengeful nemesis Rabbit has been eliminated, who’s now going to pose a threat to Lucas Hood’s tenuous hold as Banshee’s sheriff?
Lucas is relatively relaxed without the Rabbit threat, which is a new place for him. Story-wise, over the last 17 years or so, including when my character was doing prison time, Rabbit’s been after him. Now that’s over. But sure enough with our show, when anything looks like it’s going good, you have to find a way to make it go bad, and we do.

lili-simmons-bansheeIf this traditional Amish girl is any indication, things are a little different in Banshee.

In last season’s finale, Native American cage fighter Chayton appeared again with an ominous threat “We are here… to fight a war!” It seems inevitable that he and Lucas will lock horns.
Chayton is hell-bent on destroying Lucas, so he’s a menace throughout this season. There’s fight scenes with him, but also with everyone. [Laughs] And I get beaten up by everyone, as there’s a great combination of action and dramatic scenes coming up. The thing is the show has never pulled any punches. Most of the episodes drop you right smack into the action. It’s not apologetic about what it is.

Lili Simmons, who plays Amish beauty Rebecca Bowman, living in sin with her crime boss uncle Proctor, calls them “Mr. And Mrs. Evil, Boris and Natasha”…
Lucas’ nemesis is always going to be Proctor. But the thing about them is that they’re basically alike, they’re very similar archetype characters. They’re both like sharks, they live to a code and have the same set of rules they follow. Proctor is the big bad guy of the show and I’m kind of the ‘good guy.’ [Laughs] I’m like the goodie baddie. And we’re so going to bang heads.

Speaking of the Amish, there are romance novels, reality shows, they’re everywhere lately…
They sure are. You can’t turn the corner at the moment without seeing something about Amish… they’re so hot right now! The Amish and the Native American elements are rich parts of the social fabric of the town of Banshee. They’re people who’ll go to great lengths to protect what’s theirs, and they do it ferociously.

With the death of Rabbit, the seduction/murder of Native American leader Alex Longshadow by Rebecca and the murder of one of your fellow law enforcement officers, more havoc seems imminent.
There’s nothing better than seeing a little bit of vengeance, and we’ll definitely be serving it up. As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold.