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Jeffrey Dean Morgan Heads to "Magic City"

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

The tall, dark, and handsome actor—who will always be Denny Duquette from Grey’s Anatomy to me—returns to the small screen in Starz’s latest original drama Magic City. Call it the Mad Men of Miami Beach. Set in 1958, the show (which has already been picked up for a second season) recreates a turbulent time, complete with mafia, CIA agents, and a flashy and ambitious hotelier named Ike Evans (played by Morgan). Here, the actor gives us a little history lesson, reveals why he thinks the show will be a success, and more.

Q: What made you want to get involved with the show?

A: First and foremost, as an actor, you want to go where the writing is. I read three or four episodes going into having lunch with Mitch Glazer, the writer and executive producer. Within 10 minutes of sitting down, I agreed to do it, and the rest, I hope, will be history.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Q: We’ve scene nostalgic TV shows triumph (Mad Men) and fail (Pan Am). Why do you think Magic City will succeed?

A: I think this show will succeed because it’s beautifully written and, I think, beautifully acted. Miami Beach was a very intriguing place in 1959. The stories that we tell are based in historic fact, so it’s going to be compelling. It’s a world people will be drawn to.

Q: What did you learn about this era in Miami history?

A: In Havana, the American mobs were running the casinos, and suddenly Castro overthrew Batista, so they came to Miami Beach to set up shop. Miami Beach became the epicenter for the mob world, and the Rat Pack was in the background. Then you have this incredible CIA presence—the largest presence anywhere in the world other than Langley—and they were trying to overthrow Castro.

Q: Describe the Miramar Playa Hotel, which your character owns.

A: Glamorous, ritzy, classy. A true beauty. It was the place to be. The visual templates were the 1950’s Fountainbleau and Eden Rock, and the sets they built are truly stunning. They’re the most amazing sets I’ve seen in any medium, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. To walk onto these sets is to be transported into another world.

Q: What are a few of your favorite hotels around the world?

A: I stayed in this amazing place in Paris, but I don’t remember the name of it, so that sucks for you. There’s a place in Kauai, Princeville, which I very much enjoyed. In Puerto Rico, I lived in the Ritz Carlton, and we had a good time there. And the Standard in Miami Beach was really good to me. But, you know, if they’ve got a good bed and nice room service, then I think they’re doing their job.

Q: With a dog and a family, I understand you’re more of a house person anyway. How do you like living in the Miami of today?

A: Miami is awesome. I was very nervous about doing a TV show because I didn’t know if I wanted to be on location for six months. Now having spent half of last year in Miami Beach, I fell in love with it—the culture, the people, the food. I’m happy that I’ll be calling it my home.

Magic City debuted April 6 at 10 p.m. (EST) on Starz.

Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.

From top: photos by Craig Blankenhorn/Starz and Starz.

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