Just in time for the special holiday episode of the hit TV show LEVERAGE I get to sit in on two exclusive press conferences with some of the stars of the show. One of the conference calls was with Timothy Hutton who plays Nathan Ford the Mastermind of the LEVERAGE Crew. A former Insurance Adjuster who has bested many thieves and crooks over the years joined forces with four such criminals to right the wrongs and get the job done when no one else can do it. Think A-Team without all the military training and much better looking people. Also, not as cheesy.
Also on that first call was Beth Riesgraf who plays the master thief Parker. Parker is one of my favorite characters and also a major fan favorite. Beth Riesgraf plays the role so well and has been known to steal a quite few scenes just by her reactions alone. She also gets some great lines and not just the ones she dangles from. Of all the characters in the series we have seen Parker grow the most as she adjusts to life with a group of people that she is beginning to trust.
Of the two calls this one was the more fun because Timothy and Beth were really engaging and entertaining. They also joked around with us and with each other, that was nice. They were so comfortable talking with all of us and you could hear some genuine love for the work that they do on the show. What’s not to love, the show s amazing, the cast is fantastic and there is something for everyone.
Of the whole call, which was great I liked the back and forth between Timothy, Beth and caller Earl Dittman of Wireless & Digital Journal.
“Operator: Our next question comes from Earl with Wireless & Digital Journal.
Earl Dittman: Hi, guys. How are you all?
Beth Riesgraf: Hi.
Timothy Hutton: Hey.
Earl Dittman: Timothy, can you believe that you’re coming up on a season 4?
Timothy Hutton: No, I – yeah, I mean…
Earl Dittman: Isn’t that amazing?
Beth Riesgraf: Can you believe it?
Earl Dittman: I know…
Timothy Hutton: It is.
Earl Dittman: …it’s incredible.
Timothy Hutton: It is. Yeah.
Earl Dittman: And the reason I ask that is is because you’ve been on other shows that have also been just as well-written. Well, not even as well-written, but have been good, and they didn’t make it very long. Do you think that if this show had been on a network, a big, you know, one of the big three’s that it would have made it this far?
Timothy Hutton: Yeah.
Earl Dittman: You think so?
Timothy Hutton: Well, I mean I do, but you know, who knows? I mean, it’s – honestly I think that the show has really benefited from being on TNT. And because TNT has really been so supportive of the show, and you know it’s been a great home for the show. So it’s hard to say, but you know we’re just all incredibly happy that it’s still going.
I mean, we love doing the show and, you know, just as excited reading the scripts, and it doesn’t feel like we’re going into the fourth year. It feels like we just – you know…
Earl Dittman: Just started.
Timothy Hutton: …we just started. Yeah…
Beth Riesgraf: Yeah.
Timothy Hutton: …it really does. Yeah.
Earl Dittman: And really – and it feels so fresh. All of you – both of you seem – everybody seems fresh. I mean, it’s just wonderful how it continues to be a fun show.
Beth Riesgraf: Yes.
Earl Dittman: And Beth, I mean, did you – you obviously must feel the same way. I mean, this is like a – it’s like – you must like going to work every day.
Beth Riesgraf: I do.
Timothy Hutton: We do.
Beth Riesgraf: Yeah.
Timothy Hutton: Yeah.
Beth Riesgraf: Definitely.
Timothy Hutton: And we really – we like working together. I mean, that started – the chemistry that I think the, you know, the – that comes across with the five of us, it started in Chicago when we were doing the pilot. We just kind of in the first moment all enjoyed being around each other and working with each other, so, you know, and that’s just continued.
I mean, we find ourselves now in the fourth year working together and on weekends when most people would want to, you know, be away from one another, we’re all having dinner together and making plans and, you know, going bowling and doing this and doing that, and our kids are playing together.
So it’s – well, Beth and I are the only ones who (hang around).
Beth Riesgraf: (Like), yeah, our kids – yeah, we basically are afraid to – no. We – yeah, I think that’s very true actually. And I think one thing too that was I thinking about the other day, because I was like, “Man, it already seems like, you know, it’s coming – the time to shoot again is right around the corner.”
But, I don’t – I think none of us take it too seriously. Like, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and you know, the tone of the show allows for us to be goofy and have fun, and the directors that come on board are always, you know, in that spirit of play, so to speak. It’s like they all kind of get the tone and to work as hard as we do and for – to work the hours that we do, I think if anyone of us, you know, didn’t have the approach that we had, it would be tough, but…
Timothy Hutton: Yeah. Yeah.
Beth Riesgraf: …since we all, you know, have fun with it, it makes so much easier.
Earl Dittman: Well, Timothy, before I let go, the reason I mention that is is that from my point of view or for our side, TNT has really done an incredible job because I’ve seen how other networks treat shows and, you know, big shows that fall after two or three episodes. And it seems like TNT has really made this one of their, you know, pet projects and have really treated it, you know, really good to make it the hit it is.
Timothy Hutton: Well, I, you know, I think that’s true, but I think they, you know, I think TNT does just a great job on all of their shows. They’re very passionate about what they’ve programmed and, you know, with our show they’ve managed to keep, you know, keep the show. Whenever there’s, you know, kind of promotion about it or an advertisement or, you know, a trailer or whatever, a commercial about the upcoming episodes, you know, it’s just – it’s a new approach each time. It’s a fresh approach.
So it’s a combination of that, the scripts, all of our enjoyment in working together, you know, that really makes it all kind of go. And we’re really excited about these three shows that are coming up, you know, the holiday show and then the – where the team infiltrates the mall, that one, and then the two-part season finale. And of course, we can’t wait to get back to Portland and start up season 4 because there’s a lot of things that are going to happen in season 4.
Earl Dittman: Oh, we can’t wait. Well, that’s a great Christmas gift to your fans, believe me. We – they’re going to love it. And thank you guys, you all have a Merry Christmas too…
Beth Riesgraf: Yeah, you too.
Earl Dittman: …and a Happy New Year. And anything special you all are doing?
Beth Riesgraf: I guess I’m going to be with family.
Earl Dittman: Okay.
Timothy Hutton: Yeah, I’m going to be with family, be with my sons, and you know be home and, you know, hopefully it’ll snow because we’re thinking about skiing or something like that.
Earl Dittman: Have fun. Thanks guys.
Beth Riesgraf: Thanks.
Earl Dittman: Thanks for a great year.
Beth Riesgraf: You too. See you.
Timothy Hutton: Thanks.
Earl Dittman: Bye-bye.”
I really wish that I had gotten up the courage to ask a question. the thing is, I could not for the life of me think of one. That isn’t true, I couldn’t think of one for Timothy but sort of had one for Beth I wanted to know what Parker reaction, whether saying, action or facial expression was her favorite. But I didn’t ask it. I’ve got to get over it and just be ready to ask questions more.
The second conference call was with Aldis Hodge and Wil Wheaton. I got to this one late because I tried calling in on a previous number and the operator couldn’t help me. Then I rechecked my e-mail, got the right number and made it to the call. Aldis plays Hardison, the wise cracking computer hacker on the team. Wil is a special guest star who is basically Hardison’s nemesis named Chaos. The two get to match wits again during the Christmas episode coming out this Sunday December 12 at 9:00pm on TNT.
It looks like I missed one question from the call and it was a good one too so I’ll post that here. The question came from Jenn Falls with InsideBlip.com.
“Jenn Falls: Good afternoon gentlemen.
Wil Wheaton: Good afternoon.
Aldis Hodge: Hi.
Jenn Falls: Hey. I just wanted to kind of hook you guys up both as the geeks on Leverage. Wil, in your 2009 book Just a Geek, Neil Gaiman wrote in your forewords, “As we all discover sooner or later you’re never just a geek.” So I wanted to ask Aldis, how has your character Hardison evolved in Leverage to be more than just the geek?
Aldis Hodge: Well he’s taken an interest in a much more substantial role than just being behind a computer. He’s learned from everybody else on the team coupled with the ambition to run his own team one day. He has taken of grifting and he’s learned a little bit about thieving but he’s more learning the mastermind part of it. He wants to do more for the cause of what we do as opposed to just being a player, you know what I mean?
Jenn Falls: Right. Right.
Aldis Hodge: So he’s consistently growing watching everybody, learning their moves. He still has to work on the fighting but as (those) know he has a dog, Megabyte, who does that. But he wants to be more than – I mean he’s always going to be a hacker at heart. That is what he does best. That is what he contributes best to the team. But he wants to contribute more to just the team. He wants to contribute to what we’re doing so he’s going to learn what he has to do and he’s definitely gone beyond.
I think in these last couple seasons we’ve seen more of Hardison stepping outside of the hacker role all the while being a hacker continually but like in “The Ice Man Job” being a grifter. And you know, you get to see a little bit more action out of him in this season finale. So there’s a lot going on with him and he’s not just your conventional hacker.
Actually he’s exposing different ways to hack. Grifting is hacking mentally and personally, hacking inside of someone’s head, you know. So he’s learning that art and he’s learning different ways to hack and exposing different ways to hack.
Wil Wheaton: As an audience member, you know, I’ve watched Leverage since the pilot and it’s been really wonderful for me to watch Hardison grow from this, you know, from the young hacker sort of piece of the puzzle and to see Hardison’s ambition develop. And it’s so clear that he wants his own crew but he’s not ready for his own crew and I think it makes his character and the dynamic between Hardison and Nate so much more interesting and so much more compelling than, you know, it would’ve been otherwise.
Aldis Hodge: Thank you, man.
Jenn Falls: Excellent. And if I can ask one follow-up question for Wil since it came from your foreword. How do you bring more than just the geek to the characters you play, such as Chaos?
Wil Wheaton: Well it’s important to know why Chaos is the way he is. He’s obviously very smart. He’s obviously very motivated and very, like, committed but where he could very easily use his abilities and his talents for good, he instead chooses to use them for evil.
And I had to make up a reason that was really meaningful for why that is. And I built a background story for him that’s, you know, not too far removed from my own experiences as a young geek. He was picked on and he was misunderstood and he was lonely and he was isolated. And rather than take those experiences and turn them into something positive for other people that may be experiencing that, he’s taken all of his abilities and instead used it to just sort of punish people and kind of lash out at the world.
And whenever I get to work on Leverage, it’s very important to me to make it very clear that Hardison is the only guy in the world that Chaos respects. Everybody else is just a jerk and doesn’t even come close. I mean he doesn’t respect Nate. He doesn’t – if he ever encountered Sterling, he wouldn’t respect him. He certainly didn’t respect the rest of the Two Live Crew guys. He really respects Hardison. And I said earlier today, if they were on the same team, the world would really be in a lot of trouble.
Aldis Hodge: And also, if I may, I think that what you’ve done with Chaos is bringing out the tactician in him. I think he’s in a sense of being a general, a leader. He’s quite the mastermind himself. And I think that gets quite exposed in the upcoming episode but I think you’ve exposed him in a different light in that way in showing that he’s not just a pawn to be used but he’s pulling the strings.
Wil Wheaton: Yeah. He is a guy who we saw it clearly in “Two Live Crew Job” and I think you’ll see it a bit in “Ho Ho Ho Job.” He’s really happy to let everyone else think that he is a pawn on the board when he is actually – from his point of view he’s Keyser Soze.
Jenn Falls: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time guys.”
I again didn’t come up with any questions for either guy. I really would have loved to ask Wil Wheaton if he had ever heard of the Sarcastic Voyage Podcast or if he wanted to come on Geek Dads Weekly with Daniel M. Clark and myself. I probably would have asked Aldis what his favorite line for Hardison ever was. Hardison gets the best lines. Well, now that I am a seasoned part of the celebrity conference call I’ll try and do more and next time come with actual questions.
Now, your mission is to not miss the “Ho, Ho, Ho Job” episode of LEVERAGE this Sunday at 9:00pm.
Disclosure: I am part of the Turner Influencer Network and I was asked to attend these conference calls as part of that network. The opinions of the show are entirely 100% mine.
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