‘Leverage: Redemption’ Cast Talks Season 1 Return, Directing & Special Guest Stars
Our favorite bad guys doing some good and taking down the rich and powerful return for eight more episodes on October 8.
When Season 1 of Leverage: Redemption continues, Grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), Thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), Hitter Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), Fixer Harry Wilson (Noah Wyle), and Maker Breanna Casey (Aleyse Shannon) face off with a rival organization (RIZ) that embodies the system the team works so hard to stop. The crew will also be helping a small-town librarian (LeVar Burton in Riesgraf’s directorial debut), discrediting a lifestyle and wellness guru (an episode Bellman and Shannon call “so much fun”), exploring the failing memory of a legendary grifter (Joanna Cassidy, “an icon,” Bellman says), and more.
The crew tells us what to expect.
How’s the Team?
By the end of the first eight episodes of the season, the crew found its groove, with Harry and Breanna the new members and Hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge, who had limited availability) off handling other business. That continues in these next eight, as they deal with things separate from the cons as well.
The road to redemption for Harry, who was a corporate lawyer on the wrong side of everything, continues. “We start to test whether or not Harry’s commitment is deep or if he’s just going through a midlife crisis and wanted to see if he dropped a little bomb into his life what happened,” Wyle says. “He can’t go back to where he was, but he doesn’t truly fit in with the world that he’s in. As the season unfolds, you realize there was a clear direction all along and he was better at being a con man than we gave him credit for.”
Sophie was also looking for “direction” in the first half of the season, but now she has it. After getting personal closure via one last con with Nate (via Fake Nate, with Timothy Hutton’s Mastermind killed off off-screen), she “put something to bed in a way that she was then able to move forward with more purpose,” Bellman shares. While Sophie may not know exactly where her future lies (remember, she initially came back for one last job), “she’s seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, rather than looking over her shoulder and living in the past.”
Someone who doesn’t need direction is Parker, who has been successfully leading multiple Leverage International teams in the years between the original series (which ended its five-season run on TNT in 2012) and the revival, and now getting back into jumping off buildings and climbing through vents (not in her and Hardison’s house). “Parker was delighted to flow power to Sophie this season and to see her reclaim her power,” Riesgraf says. “She’s confident. Parker doesn’t think in terms of ‘Who’s the leader?’ We’re a team.”
Speaking of teams, another one very much wants Eliot: RIZ. “They know that somebody like Eliot Spencer would be a force to reckon with,” Kane explains. “You could just say his name when talking about RIZ and most people would back down because they don’t want that coming. It’s almost a cat and mouse game, and I’m not sure who’s the cat and who’s the mouse at what particular point. [RIZ head] Bligh’s [Lucy Taylor] a force to be reckoned with. Eliot’s going to have to deal with that at some point, and I love it when he does.”
Meanwhile, Breanna’s gaining confidence in her skills (and the ones she’s picking up from the others). “She’s coming to terms with the fact that she’s learning new things,” Shannon says. “Because of those lessons, I think she’s finding herself to be useful. She’s starting to see that she doesn’t just have to prove herself. All she has to do is show up and listen and learn and then give back.”
Stepping Behind the Camera
Riesgraf directs two very fun episodes in the back half of the season, and for her, it “was a dream come true” to do something she’d wanted to for 25 years. “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation because we talk a lot about trust as actors with our scene partners, but as a director to earn the trust can sometimes be really tricky with the cast or the crew, but right away, I already knew I had that and I could trust them and they could trust me,” she shares.
For Kane, it was a “very flawless transition” to be directed by his costar, whom he’s known since 2007. “I never saw her with the director’s hat on. I saw her more as a friend,” he says. “It was very simple because she would get in my way if I was doing something she thought could be a little more emotional and I needed that help.”
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A Family Affair
“I think one of the reasons why you have a few family members making appearances in various episodes this season is that that was the only way we could get them onto set,” Bellman admits, referring to COVID protocols. (Executive producer Dean Devlin’s daughter appeared in the first half.)
Her daughter, Romy Sethna, appears in “The Jackal Job” as Stella’s (Cassidy and Bellman in flashbacks) daughter. It was a “very sweet” moment for Bellman. “I was pregnant on the second season of the first iteration of Leverage,” she recalls. “My daughter’s grown up on the show and knows everyone, so she got to see everyone at work that she’s known since she was a baby.”
Wyle’s wife and daughter also appear in the second half, and he worked with both. He directed his wife, Sara Wells, in “The Golf Job.” “My wife is an incredibly talented, trained lyric soprano, musical theater actress, and I wanted to work with her for years,” he says, admitting he worried she’d think the role (a clerk Eliot charms) was too small. “The only direction I gave her was ‘I don’t know that Jennifer, the pro shop girl, is having as much fun at her job today as you are at yours. Let’s temper the enthusiasm a little bit.’ She’s amazing.”
Then his daughter, Auden Wyle, came in to play Harry’s daughter, Becky, in “The Muddy Waters Job.” She did send in an audition tape, he makes sure to note, and Wyle sounds proud when he recalls, “I was sitting on set with my daughter and watching this young actress being incredibly professional, incredibly prepared, really poised. And then we started to play and I looked into her eyes and I was looking into Becky’s eyes.”
These guys are obviously the right ones to provide a little…leverage.
Leverage: Redemption, Season 1 Returns, Friday, October 8, IMDb TV