Whoo hoo! If Sundays weren’t good enough, they just got better. One of my favorite series is teaming up with Falling Skies and The Great Escape to make one killer Sunday night.
That’s right Leverage is back, and our favorite cons are back on the job. The fifth season premieres this Sunday at 8/7c on TNT, and this season sounds just as exciting as the last. In fact, some of the cons this season involve a crime from the ’70s, a pro-hockey show, intellectual property piracy, and even aliens!
I was able to be a part of a conference call with the brains behind the operation — or at least he plays it on TV. That’s right, Timothy Hutton was gracious enough to answer some questions about the upcoming season. Take a look at some of the highlights from the call, where Timothy discusses shooting in Portland, a wide variety of guest stars, playing multiple characters, and of course, a certain Sophie Devereux.
So, first of all, I want to know what to expect this season. What’s different and what you love about Nate? – Terri Miller
Well, first of all, what we can expect from this new season is — one of the biggest things is that the Leverage team has officially moved to Portland, where we film the show. So they’ve left Boston, and what it’s allowed the writers to do is use all these amazing locations around Portland and just outside the city for storylines. There are some amazing vineyards. And we’re doing a show right now having to do with a winery and some bad things that are going on there, and the Leverage team infiltrating kind of the local wine industry and trying to correct that.
So that’s one big thing about season five. And another thing is I think that the team have really come a lot closer together. And for Nate, with the way that his father died the year — in the finale last year — I think it’s kind of made him someone who isn’t connected to his past and, instead, more interested in his future and his present way of going about life. And it’s changed him I think quite a bit.
And you asked what I like about Nate.
That’s something. I think that he is a guy with a lot of — burdened by a lot of events that happened in his past which anyone would be burned by and troubled by. But the way the writers have gone about the character, the fact that he spent almost all his time helping other people I think, and trying to correct situations that people have been ripped off or wronged in some way, I think that he’s a pretty good person.
And then now going into this fifth year, you’ll see a lot more of Nate figuring out what can happen to him in the future versus what has happened to him in the past.
Okay, fair enough. And one more thing I needed to ask you — my site is a green website — and you know Portland is a pretty green city, so have you noticed that it’s pretty green on the set and also what you’re doing at home to be more eco-aware?
Yes, it’s very, very green on the set. I mean, I would say that we have one of the greenest sets, and not just because we’re in Oregon, but it starts with Dean Devlin, very much concerned about this area, so the obvious things like recycling and separating what should be disposed of and how. And you’re getting — pulling people to work and trying to cut down on the use of trucks and various modes of transportation that are needed to produce the show, but all of that has been carefully considered.
And, yes,Portland itself is a very, very green and one of the most [bike-friendly] cities. I mean, there are thousands of people that commute to work every day on their bikes. I’ve never seen that quite to the extent that it’s here in Portland.
And on a personal level, yes, I do my part and ask others. I get on people to do their part.
So you obviously play sort of a lot of different characters because you’re always pretending to be somebody else. Does that make the role harder or does it make it just a lot of fun? – Jamie Ruby
It definitely makes it a lot of fun to be able to play these different — those different characters and the different cons, and even because I always felt from the beginning, when I read the script that was the pilot, that there was a real opportunity with this character to kind of be different, depending on what day of the week it was or what situation was before him because you’re somebody who’s very conflicted and not particularly great around other people. And now, here, he’s put together this team of former hackers, con artists, thieves.
And he doesn’t know them. He knows Sophie a little bit. They certainly had a past. But it’s a very kind of dysfunctional group of people. And it allows I think for Nate and the other characters, too — we’ve all talked about it, the cast has talked about it, how there’s a real sort of license to be different, aspects of our own person — the character’s personality, depending on the situation. There’s no requirement as they walk into a certain Parker or a certain Hardison, a certain Eliot.
And I think that in the fifth season, you’ll see a lot of really great surprises and sides of each character that you haven’t seen in previous seasons.
You know, we spoke the first season, and I remember you telling me, “You know, I hope this Leverage does good, and we’ll at least get a couple of seasons out of it.” Well, congratulations, you’ve gotten more than that and thankfully so. Did you ever at any time think, wow, I couldn’t believe it would be going this great and people loving it this much? Did it ever surprise you at any point? – Earl Dittman
Well, I have to say, once I started seeing the shows put together and reading the scripts and everything, and then we did the first year and saw that the ratings were strong and all that, that people were watching it, it just started to feel good and started to kind of make sense because we all were — we were having a great time making the shows and having the people who are having — you know, that translated to people having a great time watching them.
The writers kept coming up with and still do these really intricate plots and cons and character storylines. So as time has gone on, on the one hand, I think, wow, it’s been five years, and when we’re done with this season, it will have been 77 one-hour episodes — 77 different one-hour episodes of Leverage. It’s pretty hard to believe, but here we are, and we’re still having a great time making them, and I hope to do many more seasons.
I was wondering can you talk at all about any of the great guest stars you’re going to have this season? – Susan Lanelle
Yes. This season, we have some really terrific guest stars. In the premier, we have Cary Elwes and then, right after that, in the next show, we have Treat Williams. We’ve got Neil Hopkins, Steve Valentine, Marshall Teague, Danielle Turchini. We’ve got Ronny Cox and Fred Ward in one of my favorite episodes we’ve ever done, which is called the “D.B. Cooper Job.” And that’s where the team goes back in time to try to solve the disappearance of the hijacker D.B. Cooper. And that one is a terrific show.
We have Matthew Lillard. And we have Mark Sheppard coming back.
Oh, good. I love him.
And then we’ve got Adam Baldwin and Monte Markham. So, yes, we’ve got some — you know, we’ve got Willa Ford — so we have some really good guest stars and some more surprises that I’m not allowed to mention.
Cool. Do you think we’ll see any more of your character’s family that we haven’t heard of before?
Well, I don’t think so. I mean, it’s a possibility you might see his ex-wife, Kari Matchett, but she’s doing her own show, and it’s very hard for us. We shoot at the same time. And we’ve all I wanted to have her around, but it’s hard because of her other show. But as far as like other family members of Nate, no, I think we — I think we kind-of — we know what is the fate of his father, of course, but, no, I don’t think so.
What do we expect to see from Nate and Sophie this season? – Meredith Jacobs
Well, with Nate and Sophie, I think what you’ll see this season is, instead of there being as it was in the past, a conflict between the two of them whether or not they’re going to work it out as a couple, I think that what you’ll see from the beginning is that they really are, they really have come together as a couple, as working partners. And they’re comfortable with one another and their trust of one another, most importantly has come to a point where they’re able to have, finally, a much healthier relationship.
Now, having said, it is Nate and Sophie, so I don’t know how. They’re both very dysfunctional kind of complicated people, so, we will see that things can’t ever get too comfortable with them because of the nature of who they re.
You’ve directed television episodes in the past. Is there any desire or any plans for you to do — go behind the camera on Leverage this season? – Michael Smith
Well, you know, I don’t think that’s something that I would do. First of all, we’ve got a group of really terrific directors, I mean, starting with Dean Devlin and then Jonathan Frakes and John Rogers and Marc Roskin and a group of others. It’s a very well-organized show. And I enjoy working with all of the directors. We have some new ones this year.
And playing the role of Nate can be pretty time consuming and a lot of dialogue and whatnot. And I think it really isn’t anything that I thought that I want to do. I mean, if they came to me and asked me to do one, if we ended up doing another season and there was a show where it made sense, I think it would be fun to direct one of the Leverage episodes.
But, right now, it hasn’t been anything that I really wanted to do. I really enjoy just — and I have quite a full plate to play Nate.
So I have — I’m curious about — I love Nate’s back and forth with — you know, his battle with, you know, whether it’s alcoholism or just drinking in general…Do you see him going further into the bottle, or do you think he’ll think that’s the bottom and then he’ll start finding his way out and work his way into a recovery where he finds a balance? - Jim Garner
Well, I think with this new season, Nate is very, very interested in recovery. And I think he’s very interested in being a determined, forward-thinking person and that he’s been driven by the past and not really motivated by the present or the future as much as he would have liked to have been.
So I think that as the fifth season begins, you will see that he’s come back from a long trip where he was by himself. The Leverage team reassembles and it’s kind of new Nate. He is much more available to others and he’s not so internal. He doesn’t take to the bottle.
And, having said that, of course, one of the interesting things about approaching a season that way is that it allows the possibility for a cliff to have the character fall off.
One thing I will tell you, I hear the word trust coming up a lot and it’s kind of related with my question…I wanted to ask who do you think Nate is the most nervous about maybe flipping sides or just disappearing. – Joe Hamil
Ah, okay. You know, I think — I really think that Nate has come a long way in this area of trust that I was just talking about. Probably in the past he would have been most nervous about Parker, you know, kind of suddenly disappearing or going wayward back to her old thieving ways; possibly Eliot becoming kind of a rogue, you know, mercenary or something.
But that’s in the past. I don’t think he views any of them as risks anymore. I think that he has a full trust of each one of them. And that’s one of the things that happens — you’ll see in the fifth season there are a lot of situations where the team really, really could go one way or another, or one individual in the team could go one way or the other and in terms of for the team or against the team, for themselves or for the team.
And it’s really kind of great what the writers have come up with, because you really see that this group of five people have become the only real family that any of them have ever had. And their reliance on one another is very deep. Their trust in one another, very strong and it’s tested quite a few times in the fifth season in really interesting ways.
But the bottom line is that it just keeps coming back that Nate feels very confident that he can trust all of them. Now, the great thing about having a character trust that completely is it allows the writers to betray that trust so you can look forward to that being a possible theme as well.
So one question I have is obviously the show has teased for a long time that we don’t know Sophie’s name and finally Nate, he found out everything. Is he going to let them know that he found out, and are we ever going to know what it is? - Jamie Ruby
Thanks. I think — I think that we all are going to know what the real name is at some point. But I think that the writers enjoy having that be a continuing — a continuing kind of mystery. And I think that for Nate, he’s been asked by Sophie not to — not to reveal what that is.
Mark Sheppard comes back this year in a really interesting episode called “The Frame-Up Job” where Sophie has been framed for the theft of a very valuable painting. And he has a funny comment, he says — he refers to — he looks at Sophie and he — and he rattles off about ten different names, ten different aliases ending with Sophie Devereux.
But there are a couple of names that he mentions when he said the ten different names that Nate has never heard of. So, Nate turns to Sophie and says, “How come I didn’t know that one? I thought I knew all of your names,” you know. So, there are some nice jokes and situations associated with Sophie’s real name versus her fake name and who she really is that get revealed this season.
Don’t forget to watch Timothy Hutton on Leverage, which starts back up this Sunday at 8/7c on TNT!
*images courtesy of TNT