When Leverage first premiered again in 2008, its easy premise of 5 thieves who use their abilities to assist common folks combat the injustices inflicted on them by the wealthy and highly effective made for charming and addictive TV. That formulation was solely enriched by enjoyable character dynamics that developed over the course of 5 seasons because the staff turned a household.
It’s no surprise it impressed such a fervent fan base, a lot in order that when the unique run was cancelled in December 2012, it nonetheless went on to be nominated and finally win a People’s Choice Award the next 12 months.
Fans’ love of the present hasn’t abated within the years since Leverage went off the air, and now nearly a decade later they’ve been rewarded with a revival collection that includes most of the authentic characters we got here to know and love – this time on IMDb TV, the ad-supported US streaming service.
“There had been a couple of false starts of excitement. At one point, we heard something about a movie,” says Beth Riesgraf, who returns as Parker – the world’s best thief – within the new collection. “I think enough time had passed that part of me just thought you know what, this was a moment captured in time that will always be really special to me, but it doesn’t seem like it’s coming back. Then when the tides turned and we got the call, I’m pretty sure I started screaming with excitement and disbelief at the same time.”
Getting the decision
The one member of the unique ensemble who had an inkling as to what was within the works is Christian Kane, who’s again as soon as once more because the staff’s formidable hitter, Elliot Spencer. Having labored with collection’ creator Dean Devlin on a number of tasks post-Leverage – together with The Librarians and Almost Paradise – he was all the time conscious of the reboot’s standing.
“Dean would give me little snippets here and there,” Kane remembers. “It was almost to the point where I wish he’d stop talking about it because I’d get my hopes up so bad! We were out in the Philippines doing Almost Paradise and I had a lot shorter hair. Dean came out to direct the last episode, and he looked at me and said ‘stop cutting your hair.’ I knew exactly what that meant, and I just got so excited. That’s how I found out that Leverage is coming back.”
While many elements of Leverage: Redemption might be acquainted to followers, there’s rather a lot in regards to the revival that’s totally different too. The greatest change? For circumstances which might be shortly defined within the first episode, the staff might be with out their former chief and mastermind Nathan Ford, who was performed by Timothy Hutton within the authentic 5 season run. It’s a ballsy transfer that may probably generate a lot dialogue amongst followers because the collection premieres.
“There was definitely a thought of how are people gonna react to this?” says Riesgraf. “But I think knowing what a special run we all had on that first series, and knowing that that wasn’t going anywhere, and that that would stay in everybody’s hearts, and that those experiences would last a lifetime, meant everything to me.”
For Gina Bellman – whose grifter, Sophie Devereaux, received engaged to Ford within the last moments of the unique collection – it was an opportunity to evolve her character, who’s cajoled again into the con early on after being out of the sport for years. “It’s established that Sophie and Nate have had an amazing, fulfilling, committed relationship,” says Bellman. “So I feel that this loss that she has at the beginning of the season is really a springboard to her being in a much better place as a woman. She’s more mature and she’s not so highly strung.”
Ford’s absence means there’s room for some new blood on the staff. One such character is Aleyse Shannon’s Breanna, foster sister to Alec Hardison (a returning Aldis Hodge, who is barely within the first two episodes). Like her brother, she’s a hacker extraordinaire, however her inexperience on the con sometimes lands her in sizzling water.
Luckily, Breanna has the world’s best thief for a mentor. Parker and Hardison are nonetheless collectively in Redemption, and the concept of the couple having children was mentioned. However, moderately than go down that path – given the lives they lead, the kid would always be in danger – Breanna turning into part of the Leverage household nonetheless provides the present a recent dynamic to play with. “With the way Breanna came in and the way we take care of one another, that is their family unit,” says Riesgraf.
The new man
The different new member of the staff stirring issues up is Noah Wyle’s Harry Wilson, a former high-powered lawyer who’s attempting to show over a brand new leaf. It’s this character whom the Redemption of the title refers to most, as he involves phrases with a number of the dangerous issues he did for worse folks because the present develops.
Wyle is one other Devlin favourite – he performed the lead function in The Librarians, which ran for 4 seasons – and he relished the chance to get caught into Wilson’s arc. “He meets a whole bunch of bad guys to teach him how to be a good guy, and I love that arc to it,” says Wyle.
“Because, you know, people are really flawed and make mistakes. And right now we’re living in a world where we’re responsible to look at those mistakes and those flaws and act accordingly and change our behavior in the face of it. So this is a season about a guy being made aware of how responsible he really is, how blind he really has been, and how responsible he is to move forward in his life by both rectifying the wrongs but also changing his entire way of life.”
Though Wyle needed to endure some hazing (“it was rather extensive and slightly illegal in some states”, he jokes), it didn’t take lengthy for him to be get comfy with the staff, each on and off display screen. It additionally didn’t take lengthy for the OG staff to get again to enterprise as regular. One of the various sensible selections of Redemption’s premiere is to have all of the fan favourite characters on display screen on the identical time throughout the opening minutes, in a sequence full with the in-jokes and lovable forwards and backwards that got here to outline the present.
“That was the first scene we shot,” says Kane. “It was a long scene, so we all got to play. Dean was very smart about that. Two minutes into it, it was like we never left, you know? And that was the best feeling in the world. We didn’t have to find the characters again. We could just have fun with it.”
The cons are additionally simply as enjoyable and different as we got here to anticipate all these years in the past, with targets which might be wholly deserving of some comeuppance. One standout, ‘The Paranormal Hacktivity Job’, sees all the ladies staff as much as scare the dangerous guys straight with a mix of tech and guile. “Shannon, Riesgraf and I got to riff together on that episode, and it was really fun,” says Bellman. “Aleyse is a bundle of energy. She’s got great comic skills, and she’s a very good comedic actor. We did a lot of little improvisations together in that episode, and I think it really helped to elevate it.”
For Riesgraf, there was additionally the added problem of being behind the digital camera for an episode. Having beforehand directed two quick movies along with shadowing different filmmakers, she jumped on the likelihood to lastly name the photographs on Redemption. “I knew that I felt comfortable with all these people in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily be going into a new set. I also felt confident in my scene partners. We help each other along the way so I can always tell if we don’t feel a take is right or whatever. It was a wild ride.”
It’s not a trip Riesgraf and co would have gotten to go on with out the immense fan assist that has ensured Leverage hasn’t been forgotten within the 9 years it’s been off the air.
Case in level: Elliot and Hardison’s impromptu ‘Two Good Ol’ Boys’ duet in season 5’s ‘The First Contact Job’ has since develop into a ringtone, taking up a brand new lifetime of its personal. “All of that was improvisation,” says Kane. “Jonathan Frakes was directing that episode and he says he’s Star Trek: The Next Generation’s number one fan. And Jonathan was like, this is kind of weird. And I remember saying what if I sang it along with Hardison? And he loved it. So we just started in private, and now it’s a ringtone on your phone, which I absolutely love.”
More than simply ringtones, nevertheless, it’s clear that Leverage’s mixture of eclectic however harmonious characters and personalities resonated in a giant approach. “Finding out that someone’s named their baby Parker is incredibly touching,” says Riesgraf. “I’ve had teens reach out over the years who have said that they felt incredibly isolated and alone, and that seeing Parker made them realise there’s other people out there like them and they don’t feel so alone. Interactions like that really mean a lot. That’s why we want to do what we do.”
And now, nearly a decade after the ebook seemed to have been closed for good, staff Leverage get to do it yet again.
The first eight episodes of Leverage: Redemption can be found now on IMDb TV.