Timothy Hutton Interview

Season 2 of TNT’s hit drama series Leverage starts tonight with all new episodes and it’s about time it’s back! I know, it’s only been a few months, but I love this show, so I’ve missed it!  In celebration of the season premiere, which finds Nate living in Boston, and the team finding their way back to each other, I had a chance to speak with the incredible Timothy Hutton about the show, why he loves it, and why you should, too! [minor spoilers about upcoming cons lie ahead]

Leverage quickly became one of my favorite shows on TV, so I’m really excited to have it back.


Tell us, for people who haven’t gotten to see it yet, what can we expect from where Nate ended and where Nate begins this season?

I mean, Nate ended by kind of confronting his past and some of the dark, dark pockets that he was kind moving himself away from and out of, involving the tragedy of his son, and it was someone he worked for, and them having a hand in it, and not being open and honest with his ex wife about some of those things that happened.  And so season 1 ended with him dealing with it, and tying up some really disturbing and uncomfortable loose ends but necessary.  Season 2 begins with him having quit drinking, and turning a page, and kind of moving on with his life, until he gets pulled back in by the rest of the team, and he’s reluctant to do that.  Now, he kind of associates them with a particularly rough period in his life, but goes ahead with it.  The big difference is that he now lives in Boston, above a bar.  He says that he’s moved on with his life.  He used to self medicate with alcohol and was terrified of being sober because of what it might do to him.  Now he’s terrified of being drunk because he’s gotten used to being in control.  He’s really done a flip with that one.

It seemed that the show took an extra dark turn, while keeping the light side to it.  Is that something that we’ll see continuing, or now that Nate’s in a better place will that dissipate?

Someone like that can only stay that way for a finite period of time before certain things if they still have not been dealt with kind of rear their ugly head.  I’m sure that Nate still has some issues that he needs to resolve.  There’s a lot of work ahead of him, as far as getting to a place where he can have a relationship with someone else, whether it’s Sophie or anybody.  He’s a solo operator in his life, and isn’t very close to anybody.  The only family he really has is this team.  It did get to dark places last year, and still maintained, as you said, humor.  I think that will be a little bit of this year as well.  What you’ll see with the second year is a real sense of enjoyment that the team has and a real sense of admission almost that they really do enjoy doing what they do and they actually can tolerate each other.

You say “actually can tolerate each other”.  I think it’s funny, the chemistry between the five of you – you can totally tell that these characters, whether they want to admit it or not, really do enjoy being around each other.

It’s true.  I think that that’s one of the real strong appeals of the show.

Is there a certain person or thing that you draw inspiration on or from for playing this Nathan Ford character?

It’s a lot of things.  It’s not based on any one person or any one thing.  It’s just really solid writing and it’s a matter of executing the writing.  Shaping out the character, figuring out when the character is comfortable and when he’s not.  Figuring out the comfort zone, the comfort level of the character, and you know, one of the things that I kind of discovered last year, after we had started working is that it would be fun if Nate enjoyed playing a part during a con.  That’s something that I really thought would be fun, and that came after the fact.  I talked to the writers about it and that became a real element of the show.  That Nate gets involved.  He’s not just sitting back with the communication ear bud and speaking to the team from afar, sort of a headquarters, from kind of a ground control kind of thing, but that he’s out in the field as part of the con.  And that’s something that really happened and none of us really thought would be part of it.  If you look at the pilot, that’s not what he does at all.  It’s something that evolved as we went on, and we’re doing a lot of that this year.

What originally drew you to this character?

The script was really, really well written for the pilot, and that drew me in.  The possibilities for the character.  A guy that has lost so much and has so much to gain, so many different directions that he can go in.  That was interesting to me.  It didn’t seem limited or stagnant in terms of what we could do with the part.  When somebody who has nothing left to lose, and so much to gain, you can really do anything.  You can have setbacks; you can have major cathartic moments.  It didn’t feel at all, anything near a one dimensional kind of thing.  It really lent itself to all kinds of different expression.  And ultimately, it was fun.  It was a fun read, and I thought it would be a fun show to work on.

What has been one of your favorite cons that you guys have gotten to do, either that we’ve seen or that is coming up in Season 2?

There’s one that we’re doing this season that I think people are really going to enjoy and that is a Bernie Madoff kind of character.  A Ponzie scheme.  We help somebody out who was ripped off.  In order to grab this individual, who is under house arrest, we need to break into a penthouse apartment.  The only problem is that they’re there with their own security, and the FBI is watching them out in the hallway and all that. So we have to figure out a way how to get somebody like that out of their apartment while they’re under house arrest. The team figures out that the judges will often grant a person an exception to house arrest if it involves an event at their kids’ school.  So the Leverage team decides to invent, create, make up, and even at this guy’s kid’s school. They infiltrate the school. They become teachers [laughs] and they set up this situation, almost like a talent show, and rig it so that the kid does well in it, and it’s all just to get this guy out of the house.  Another one we’ve done recently involves the corrupt head of a food company and they’re on their corporate retreat, and we decide to provide the entertainment.  In order to get him to headquarters, we need a scan of the CEO’s retina, to get into his office.  So as part of our magic show that we’re doing, Nate is the magician onstage and Parker is his assistant, they get the guy up from the audience and get him into the magic disappearing box, and the rest appears what it is.  They’re fun situations.

It is, it’s a lot of fun.  As a viewer, you never know fully where the story is going to take you.  It’s ridiculous (in a good way) and I love it!

Yeah, it’s totally ridiculous, completely far-fetched, and it’s just great.  It’s entertaining.  Plan A never works out so they have to go to Plan B and that’s where the fun is.

Why should viewers tune in this season?

You know, if you watched the first year, you’ll get more of the same but it’s even better.  It’s more fun, more elaborate, more intricate, more production, special effects.  People that know the show, they’re going to enjoy it even more.  People that don’t know the show that are just coming to it, you don’t even necessarily have to watch the first season.  I think people will want to, to familiarize themselves with the characters.  You can come into this show; you don’t need to have watched one of them before it.  You can come in, watch it, you have a good idea of who these people are, really fun.  Enjoy some corrupt person being taken down to benefit someone who has been ripped off in some way.

Do you get a chance to watch TV besides your show?

A little bit!

What else do you get to watch?

I watch sports on TV mostly.  I’m a news junkie; I watch news programs and news channels.  I like Mad Men, I like Breaking Bad.  I like, I think it’s on Animal Planet, I’m not sure, I like Whale Wars.

New Episodes Of Leverage Air On TNT Wednesday Nights at 9PM EST