In the grifter-infused world of LEVERAGE, short-cons, long-cons, and con artists of all shapes and sizes are the norm. It is always a “shell game” and our heroes are the best of the best in creating an illusion to deceive the wicked criminals they intend to fleece. It is a modern-tale of “Robin Hood,” and in a recent press conference call Timothy Hutton and Beth Riesgraf (who play Nate Ford and Parker on the show) took a few moments to about their mischievous characters and what’s next in the upcoming episodes of LEVERAGE.
Is there anything in the remaining episodes of Season 4 that surprised you when you read it?
BETH: Yes, there are actually a few things that surprised me. In the season finale you will see that we actually call on some old friends to come back and I love the idea and the way that the writers approached that finale because it is something we’ve touched on before but they brought it to a whole new level. So I really love the season finale stuff. Unfortunately, I can’t really give you more than that on that one. And then the other one that I love: we did a spoof. We broke format quite a bit I feel like this year, in general, but in the back half of Season 4 essentially we do a spoof on the show THE OFFICE, in the episode “The Office Job.” And we experiment a little bit with what maybe Parker and Hardison would have been like had they gone to college. Sort of pushed some of those buttons — and because they are not like normal people the way they react to them are sort of different in different ways than maybe your average college kid would or whatever. And then there’s another one that I really like, it’s actually two episodes that are going to air one week after the next. It’s “Girls’ Night Out” and then the next week is “Boys’ Night Out.” So basically both episodes take place on the same night, but you get to see what the girls are doing and then next week what the guys were doing at the same time. So that’s a lot of fun actually. I think fans are going to get a kick out of it because if they are paying close attention they’ll catch a few things that are pretty funny.
Was there any character in particular that you guys were really excited to see come back?
TIMOTHY: Well, I mean there are some interesting, really wonderful actors that are coming back who created these kind of great characters on the show: Wil Wheaton, Richard Chamberlain, as I mentioned before Drew Powell who was in episode in the first year, 12-Step Job he comes back, playing the same character. Who am I missing here?
BETH: Tom Skerritt.
TIMOTHY: Tom Skerritt, yes.
BETH: I’m not sure can we say who is in “The Office Job.” Let’s just leave it at that.
One of the cool things about this show is you get to do so many different kinds of things, and in this first episode coming back you get to do some really goofy comedy at some points. Can you describe when you get to do a comedy like this, do you have a knack, a feeling for comedy as it is and is it fun when you get to do something kind of broad like that?
BETH: Okay, so first of all thanks for the question. Yes, I love doing comedy and I love the physicality of both comedy and the stunt work that I get to do. So I feel really lucky that I get to mix it up as much as I do. The writers are really generous with sort of giving us lots of interesting material to work with. So, yes, in this episode “The Experimental Job” it’s a mix of dealing with my relationship with Hardison and like you said there is comedy in it and also there is a fight scene where I get to break a chair over a guy and then took another one in the face and do all kinds of fun things. I like it all I don’t prefer one or the other. I think if I do too much of one of the other I might get bored with it. So I like the mix.
Some of the stuff that we originally saw you in were this acrobatic gymnastic kind of skills of cat burglar. Does some of that come pretty well to you? Would you be a good cat burglar? Are you somebody who maneuvers well and slides through small spaces and things like that?
BETH: I feel like I would be a really good cat burglar. I think so. I mean my background in sports I think has helped me quite a bit. I’m certainly nowhere near as agile or limber as an actual gymnast so I don’t want to flatter myself too much here. But the stunt girls come in and kick major butt when they need to and I am lucky enough to just sort of do the back bend or whatever so it looks like I’m going into the flip and then I can do the move coming out of it. So that’s how we get away with most of it. But, yes, I’m pretty good at crawling through the air ducts and those types of things to try to stay in the safety [zone].
Is there one thing now that you’ve settled into this role that you’d like to see your character do someday?
BETH: I think I just want to see her continuing to develop without normalizing too much. I think that it is important to keep Parker unique and quirky and dangerous. And because without that she’s not Parker. So I think I want to see her strengthen in those areas by being more certain about herself and to the people she is around being able to trust them and loyalties and all those things, but I think yes I’d like to see her just keep getting stronger and better at what she does. I love that.
What is one of your favorite scenes from either the last season or the upcoming season that you can share with us?
TIMOTHY: Oh favorite scenes? Oh geez, well I – there’s coming up in the season finale, the two part season finale there are some scenes that I like very much that I did with – I enjoyed doing some scenes with Tom Skerritt. Let’s see, there are some scenes that in the season finale that I liked very much. We did a show called “Boys’ Night Out” and there’s an actor named Drew Powell and there is a lot of the episode where it’s just me and Drew Powell and he was in an episode that we did a while ago, Season 2, I think? Maybe Season 1? No, Season 1 called — what was it called, Beth?
BETH: It was “The Rehab Job.”
TIMOTHY: Yes, 12-Step something.
BETH: Oh no…
TIMOTHY: Yes, it was called 12-Step and so Drew Powell was in that and he comes back in this episode coming up in a couple of weeks and I enjoyed very much doing some scenes with him. Nate and Hurley back out on the road trying to run away from trouble. So that was fun but at the end of the day the scenes that I like the most are when the five LEVERAGE folks are together trying to figure out what to do when there is a crisis. When Plan A doesn’t work and we have to shift into Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, all these different things start to come up and you see the characters at their best and at their worst all at the same time. And those I think for all of us are really very enjoyable to do.
Now that we’ve got GRIMM shooting here as well as PORLANDIA, are you worried that you are going to be sort of running out of locations that won’t already be featured on some other television show where you haven’t already featured yourself?
BETH: I think it’s so cool that more and more people are filming there. It is awesome for Portland and Oregon in general. And I’ve met some of the other actors on those shows and they are great people. So I’m not worried about it because the tones of the three shows are so different from one another. I think even if GRIMM shot in the same location as us it is going to look totally different. For it is within context may be totally different unless it is a certain street of whatever obviously people may recognize it but I don’t think so especially since we doubled the city for Boston. I think it’s I think it is going to be totally fine. I thought it would be kind of cool to have a crossover at one point actually. I was like it would be cool to have some creature like roam through a shot where Parker is there and it’s like some GRIMM character and she wonders if she just had a hallucination or something. But I don’t see why we can make use of this whole crossover opportunity.
Have you had a chance to sort of develop habits of things you like to do or places you like to visit when you are in Portland during the time that you are here? Is there no down time at all?
BETH: It’s hard, you know there is not a lot of down time I suppose but when I do have down time I mean Portland is so gorgeous and the surrounding areas are so beautiful that I tend to take drives or go to the beach or the mountains. And sometimes I wish I could stay much longer than a day but I feel like getting out and getting space and visiting new
I still haven’t seen everything, which is kind of amazing because we have been there for three years. But I love it. Yes I get out any chance I can get.
What acting challenges have discovered with the character of Parker in the show’s fourth season?
BETH: I suppose the challenges could be just maintaining that balance of quirkiness and still keeping her dangerous and never keeping the scale sort of tipped slightly so that she’s never going to normalize in a sense. Like I think the moment Parker becomes too normal is the moment she sort of loses the essence that makes her, her. . . So with the writers I’ve had lots of conversations as moments have come up in the show just on I want to be sensitive to that I guess and I want to keep her who she is and not really progress too quickly on one area just because I feel like she’s had a lifetime of experiences that have made her who she is. So in one episode she is not going to totally become this like normal girlfriend to Hardison (Aldis Hodge) or something like that. I want to make sure that we are careful about it and that that adrenaline-junkie in her stays there. I think there are things about her that I don’t want to see change as much as I’d loved helping her develop and seeing her grow in independence and all that. So I definitely want to be aware of the things that need to be kept true.
What attracted you to both the show and playing this particular character?
BETH: Well, first off, I was an auditioning actor and so when the script came in I was excited to go in on it and I thought the pilot script was incredible. It was really well written and such interesting characters, such a vibrant sort of clear idea of what this group was and who they were going to be. I just sort of got it right off the bat. So I got excited because I thought this character can be sort of anything I want her to be. And if I happened to fit what they are looking for, great. But it felt like a playground to like go in and just do whatever I felt like creating for her and I loved that. I didn’t feel like there were any boundaries or like I had to be the sexy girl or the girl next door or the pretty girl or whatever. It was kind of like I could do whatever I wanted and it would be whoever she was, if that makes sense.
What do you think you share with Parker? Like what kind of traits do you have in common?
BETH: I would say maybe the thing I have in common with her is I like a little adventure and I like sports and things like that. I like action I suppose. I like the adventure. So I would say I share that with her. And some of her expressions I share those with her.
TIMOTHY: You are the same height.
BETH: And I have the same face as her.
You know these characters better than anybody maybe sort of the writers. Where would you like to see these characters end up when it is all said and done?
BETH: You want to take the lead here?
TIMOTHY: I was going to say on a happy farm.
BETH: Yes, with all of us raising chickens.
TIMOTHY: Yes, just sort of a happy farm somewhere, all together with their families, their significant others. As to where the characters end up? Well, probably as far away from each other. I don’t know. They just starting to kind of work together really well and then there are little interpersonal kind of situations going on between some of them there. It would be interesting to see the writers have some pretty amazing ideas about that very thing. So what do you think, Beth?
BETH: Well, Tim, my thoughts — funny you should mention that. No, I think would like to see them all very rich. Not that money has anything to do with it, but I think as long as they can keep pulling their cons off they will be able to help people and sort of do what makes them feel good and travel and do all the other things they love doing together or separately. So just seeing the agency prosper, I guess. Like a lot of the times they have to invest a lot of money to pull something off and all that stuff. I mean I want to see them all succeed I guess on many levels. I think we all probably want that.
Any hints yet about what might be coming up on LEVERAGE?
BETH: Well, yes, actually. I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised and in this back half of Season 4 especially we break format a bit by experimenting with new sort of ideas and ways to have the LEVERAGE team get in and out of situations. We do a spoof on the show THE OFFICE in an episode called “The Office Job” and we do two episodes simultaneously. Basically one is called “Girls’ Night Out” and then the next week “Boys’ Night Out” will air and both episodes will take place over the course of the same night. So it’s going to be kind of fun for people to figure like wonder what they are missing or they’ll be seeing bits and pieces of clues and then it will all kind of click in the next weeks which I think is fun. And we have a lot of fun guest stars on that one too. And then the season finale is just phenomenal Dean Devlin knows how to create an impact and so the explosions and fights and people who are die hard LEVERAGE fans I think they are going to love the season finale because it also calls back to some of the roots of the show. And people who have been watching the whole time will get some inside things about what we are talking about and stuff. But then people who are new to the show will still also get a really action-packed show. So I think it’s really a fun season.
So see what further fun-fill adventures the LEVERAGE team becomes entangled in, be sure to tune in for the all new episodes on Sunday, November 27th at 9:00 p.m. on TNT.
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