In TNT's popular drama Leverage, Timothy Hutton leads a gang of modern-day Robin Hoods. Timothy plays Nathan Ford, a former insurance investigator who, after losing his son and his marriage, has traded to the other side of the law. He's the mastermind behind a crew of scam artists—a hacker, an actor, a muscleman and a thief—who pride themselves on coming up with elaborate cons to intercept corrupt corporate suits and protect the little guy. The Oprah.com Screening Room caught up with Timothy from Portland, Oregon, where he's shooting Season 2.
Rachel Bertsche: Leverage has a really fun Ocean's Eleven vibe—it feels like a mini-movie each week. What's it like to film the different cons?
Timothy Hutton: It's a blast to film the episodes, because it really does feel like a doing a movie every time we begin, and it starts with getting the script. We're all very excited when we get the new script of the coming episode. We can't wait to see all these things that the writers have us doing and feeling, playing different characters and all that. Once we start to prepare, we get together with dialect coaches, and we get together with the costume people to figure out the trippiest costumes for the con that we can come up with. So it's just a lot of fun to work on.
RB: It sounds like you really get to really flex the acting muscle since you're not just one character, but a character who's playing all these other characters.
TH: Exactly. That's the most fun part.
RB: Were you surprised by the following the show earned in the first season, or did you suspect off the bat that the show would take off?
TH: Well, you really never know. There are plenty of examples of really well-executed shows you could look at and say, "Well, clearly this show will have an audience, why wouldn't it?" And for whatever reason, it just doesn't catch on. So you never know going in. It's always a surprise, and in this case, a good surprise because it did catch on and people really got behind it and seem to really be looking forward to the second season.
RB: In Leverage, the good guys are, in some sense, bad guys. Is it hard to make to them likeable and sympathetic but at the same time make it clear these aren't just total altruistic do-gooders?
TH: They have something going for them that redeems them no matter what they do—they're trying to take down genuine bad guys. So if their methods are a little bit dicey here and there, they're forgiven because their ultimate goal, their whole motive, is to help people, and none of it is for personal gain and profit. I think people like to see them be as outrageous as possible because they're going against these horrible individuals or companies.
RB: Nathan Ford is an incredibly complex character. What originally attracted you to the role?
TH: Well, he's got such a rich backstory. When I read first pilot script, I thought, "Well, this is a great character." It had a lot of potential. Nate didn't really have a lot to live for. He'd kind of hit rock bottom—lost his son, marriage fell apart, doesn't have a job—and, you know, he gets intrigued by the other side of the law and decides that he's going to help people because he can't really help himself. I thought it was a really good starting point for the character.
RB: For a long time, you were primarily a movie actor, then you did the short-lived Kidnapped on NBC. What is it like doing a television series on a cable channel? It seems like it might be a middle ground between movies and network television.
TH: There's probably a little more creative freedom in cable versus network, a little less of a committee looking over everyone's shoulder, but it depends on the network, it depends on the show, it depends on who the head writer or show runner is and what track record they have. And that directly corresponds to how much the so-called committee is getting involved and meddling in the show. But we don't have much of that—this is a really great experience. We're filming in Portland, Oregon, right now—our second season is all being done here—and, you know, it really feels like the directors and the actors and the producers and the writers are coming up with these scripts and we're filming them and no one's making many changes to the template. Were kind of going with out guts on everything and having fun doing it.
RB: What's in store for Nate and the rest of his gang this season?
TH: Season 2 starts off with him getting control of the ol' drinkin'. He doesn't drink anymore, and a couple replacement vices come along—he's become a little bit of a manic control freak where he's just obsessed with helping as many people as possible. I think he genuinely loves doing it, but he just allows no room for any personal life, for any personal relationships. It's just all he wants to be doing. Then there's the ongoing will-they-or-won't-they get together part of Sophie and Nate, and there are some outside people that kind of come in and interrupt the gang a little bit and interfere with the internal chemistry of the crew.
RB: Do you have any other projects coming down the pipe that we should look out for?
TH: Yeah, I did a movie a couple of months ago in Germany with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan called The Ghost. Roman Polanski directed it, and it's going to come out either at the end of the year or next year. Then I did a comedy with Meg Ryan called Serious Moonlight that Cheryl Hines directed that's coming out this fall.
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Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, March 9, 2014
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