When ‘Leverage’ first premiered in 2008, the series which followed former insurance investigator Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) and his band of cohorts acting as modern day Robin Hoods lasted for five seasons before being cancelled. But, as the years passed and the power of the fandom kept getting stronger, ‘Leverage: Redemption’ was born and audiences once again can see their favorite characters hit the screen along with a few new faces.
‘Leverage: Redemption’ has already kicked off the first half of its inaugural season, and the second half is set to drop on IMDb TV this month. But what excites some of the stars of the show the most (Christian Kane as Elliot and Beth Riesgraf as Parker) is the trajectory the show continues to go in and the resonance it holds with its audiences. Even though they started as criminals, the team in ‘Leverage: Redemption’ fight for the people and hit back against the rich, powerful and corrupt in a way most only dream about—and that’s what made the show popular in the first place, and popular enough to come back after being canceled.
To talk more about the second half of season 1, Christian Kane and Beth Riesgraf dive deeper into their characters and what people can expect from ‘Leverage: Redemption.’
It’s unique that ‘Leverage’ has been brought back. What were your thoughts when you heard that this was actually happening?
Riesgraf: It was a surreal experience as you could imagine. We ended ‘Leverage’ with a great run, but we were canceled…then we won the People’s Choice award. So, it was this mix of how can they stop? All of these people want more. We were all hoping it would happen again and there were all of these iterations over the years that were talked about and ideas were thrown around. But when this actually came through, I got the call and thought is this really happening? This is the greatest gift, to have an audience that loves a show so much that they’ve been championing it and not giving up on it—it was a dream. To revisit these beloved characters and get to play them again with some of my favorite people in the world was such an exciting piece of news.
How would you both describe your characters, Parker and Ellie, and what would you tell audiences to expect for them?
Kane: For Elliot’s character, he’s very driven. We all start off as lone wolfs, we were criminals. We get thrown into a mix and were not supposed to work well together…but then we find out that we were indeed family and we needed each other. We were all broken toys. We felt alone I think, and then we said wait, there are other broken toys here and I need these guys. This year, we’re introduced to two new characters off the bat: Noah Wyle’s character and Gina Bellman’s character and you have to take time to massage them into these people that do know the show and have grown to love [the show.] So, you have to take your time and introduce them, and we already did that for the first eight episodes. Now, for the second eight, these characters are there and you know them and hopefully you love them. We get to run full speed, so I just think the second half is a lot faster and it’s going to get you on the edge of your seat a lot quicker—this is the ‘Leverage’ of old, we’re back and we’re happening. The first eight were fantastic, and when actors of that caliber come in you want to introduce them correctly and the way that ‘Leverage’ has always done. The stakes are higher.
Riesgraf: We find Sophia in a very vulnerable position and our job initially is to find her and bring Sophia back—and she comes back bigger and better than ever and into this power that is so beautiful to watch. She has a lot to overcome and the theme of ‘Redemption’ obviously, Harry Wilson is operating on such a place of guilt and emotional trauma from the things that he’s given into…we all have these histories and paths that we’ve gone on and now [there’s] an opportunity to expand those worlds and relationships in a way that is fun. We have the sibling rivalry still and the drama and the levity and the stunts—but this back half of the season there’s even more of that. We’re diving into more backstories and the possibilities of where they can go. The great part is that we can expect more backstories to come out and to watch the family dynamic grow and change even more.
Besides this being a show filled with action, you do touch on subjects that resonate with people. Going from ‘Leverage’ to now ‘Leverage: Redemption’ years later and after a global pandemic, do you think the messages that come out of the episodes will resonate with people more?
Riesgraf: I think more than ever people need an escape and people are tired of being bullied. They’re tired of being isolated and made to feel like they don’t belong. After feeling the effect of being locked in physically and metaphorically, they’re ready to enjoy life. They’re ready to see the bad guys get it and they’re ready to see people take down the bullies. I think yes, there’s an episode—’The Great Train Job’—and we talk about a lot of heavy stuff in that episode…racism, sexuality, all the things and topics that people are talking about. But we still have to bring the levity and we still have to keep it grounded and take it seriously [to] not make you feel like you’re watching a different show entirely. So, there’s a lot of finessing going on but I think the thing I keep hearing over and over is how people tune in because of the way the show makes them feel. It makes them feel a little better about their day. It makes them feel like there has been a little bit of redemption and it makes them feel really good as cheesy as that sounds. People want to have fun and make a difference and that’s what this show and these characters help them do.
Kane: One of the reasons I think ‘Leverage’ was so successful the first time around, not only in this country but the whole world we were going through a financial crisis with bad companies and bad people doing things to smaller people. We were those people. You can’t go in and punch a boss, you can’t go in and take down an insurance company—in real life you don’t get to do what we do. The fact is, people are angry and upset and they would sit down on the couch and we would throw the punches for you. We might not be in the same boat now, but we’re in a different boat and probably a worse boat. We’re probably sinking a lot faster, but once again—we’re your guys and we’ll throw those punches for you.
Catch the second half of season 1 of ‘Leverage: Redemption’ on IMDb TV Oct. 8.