When we last left Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) and grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) on the Season 3 finale of LEVERAGE, they were in bed together after consummating their long-gestating attraction/affection toward one another.
Moving into Season 4, that one little night will play a big role according to Hutton who plays the enigmatic and troubled Ford – a leader of a group of high-tech thieves who help innocent bystanders from being pummeled and robbed by big corporations and greedy individuals.
It’s a formula that’s worked well for the TNT series (which airs its season premiere on Sunday night) which also stars Aldis Hodge as hacker Hardison, Christian Kane as fighter Eliot Spencer and Beth Riesgraf as expert thief Parker.
LEVERAGE has also afforded Hutton a rather meaty role with Ford whose moral compass is constantly adjusted. He used to be on the side of good – working as an insurance investigator, but during the course of the first three seasons, he’s had to come to accept that he is a thief — that is a thief who actually does good – all while dealing with his own personal demons as well.
In this exclusive interview with ASSIGNMENT X, Hutton spoke about the new season, where things are heading and what the Nate/Sophie hook-up actually means for the dysfunctional couple.
ASSIGNMENT X: Do you enjoy having the extra episodes added on each year to the show?
TIMOTHY HUTTON: It’s pretty great. It’s great building longer arcs and you can do more things within a longer season.
AX: The whole arc of the first three years has been Nate rebuilding a new, makeshift family with his team – going into Season 4, do you sense the family is there now?
HUTTON: I think that he’s still conflicted about where he is in life and doing the right thing. I think he knows he’s doing the right thing for other people, but not as far as repairing his own life. Is it enough to be focused on helping others and working with the team? There’s a little bit of that going into the fourth season, but I think you’re right, he’s found a family with these other people – Parker, Hardison, Sophie and Eliot as they have with him and each other.
Each one of them came to this as individuals who really only liked working alone, who only ever worked alone and suddenly they’re part of a team. It’s tough to get to a place where everyone trusted one another and understood what their function would be as part of the team. Once everyone did, they all kind of found a family. For Parker this represents her first kind of stable group she’s been a part of without things going disastrously wrong. For Hardison as well. Eliot, being the Lone Ranger of the group, he would never admit he’s become quite attached to the group. Sophie, the grifter, who has always been the free agent and changing identities as a thief – she’s definitely embraced and become quite a strong voice in the planning of things.
So we arrive at Season 4 with the team in a strong place with one another with success they’ve had, but there’s definitely an undercurrent of concern that they’ve been exposed because of their success, in a way that people are out there looking for them. Now they have to watch their backs in a way they haven’t had to before. They have to go a little bit underground. They found out there are people watching their every move and trying to kind of benefit from the Leverage team’s success. This becomes troubling and it causes some tension in the group, so if anyone’s doing anything that’s not part of the playbook, there’s some conflict between team members that we haven’t quite seen before.
AX: That would certainly apply to Nate, since he’s always going off the playbook.
AX: With the relationship between Sophie and Nate progressing, how will they deal with that in Season 4.
HUTTON: They’re not sure that whether Eliot saw Sophie in that room at the end of Season Three. They wonder if he did and would he say something to the others. They wonder how they are with each other. Do they say something? Most importantly, what people are going to find amusing and kind of strange in a way is that they don’t know how to define it with each other. The moment they start talking about whether they’re seeing each other, the other one says, “well, we’re not really seeing each other.” “Well, what would you call it?” “I don’t know what you would call it?” They’re so concerned what the others might think, they’re forgetting the key thing of how each of them feel about it. It makes for some interesting times. Nate would kind of like to know what’s going on. Sophie would like to know what’s going on, all the while, they’re working very closely on the various cons.
AX: You mention that they have to go underground – does that mean they’re not going to be at the bar anymore or does that mean they have to be more under the radar.
HUTTON: More under the radar. They’re still at McRoy’s Bar. Many times, when a job is over, they meet at McGrory’s. They just have to be under-the-radar, because they’ve got wind of a real possibility that they’re being monitored by some of the most private places. They discover that perhaps where they live or the cars they drive, somebody has a window on to their every move.
AX: Last season was about keeping Nate out of a prison for good and working toward finding Big Bad Moreau, so with this new element of people watching the team, is there a bigger picture to this threat?
HUTTON: There is always the threat Nate could go back to jail and always a threat that Sterling [Mark Sheppard] may not always play nice. There’s always a threat that somebody that has been duped by the Leverage team or an associate of someone they put away is seeking revenge. There are all sorts of things they have to be aware of. Any member of the Leverage team could go off to jail. They’re all wanted in all parts of the world, so they have to be careful and fly under the radar. I think the stakes are even higher this year because of what they’ve done, where they’ve been and what and who they’ve taken on. In Season Four, you will see people come out of the woodwork, not looking necessarily to stop the Leverage team from doing what they do, but riding their coattails for their own personal gain.
AX: Can you talk about some of the Season 4 cons?
HUTTON: There’s a guy the Leverage team is going after who has been ripping people off in the financial sector. He’s a very wealthy guy. They find out that once a year he holds a huge party at his mansion on an island on the coast of Massachusetts. This particular year it’s a costume party and it’s a fake murder-mystery. It’s “come as your favorite detective” and the Leverage team gets invited to try to find some key piece of evidence to stop this guy from hurting others. So it’s great, because each Leverage member comes as their own favorite detective along with a 100 other guests who come as their favorite detectives. You have a couple of Hardy Boys, a couple of Nancy Drews, and obviously some Sherlock Holmes all mixed in there. That was quite a fun one and a very complex con to get into the party and then to navigate the party. Another con involves a super-duper potato that has been engineered in a way to save civilization if every other food group wasn’t around anymore. And the potato gets stolen and this hi-tech agro firm has it and the Leverage team has to figure out how to infiltrate this company to get the super potato back. It’s quite a great episode. Another episode involves the black market for organs and people who get people at the top of the list of organ transplants and the Leverage team, races against the clock to find the rightful recipient for a human heart that has disappeared at an airport.
AX: How was it shooting in the snow for the premiere episode?
HUTTON: It was amazing to be up there. We started the fourth season filming up there at Mount Hood [in Portland, OR] and there was a blizzard going on for three straight days and we just kept filming. We had three or four cameras out there and [executive producer] Dean [Devlin] was directing, and from sun up to sun down we were out there. In between snowball fights, we managed to get the work done.
AX: Portland has so much to offer, it really makes the series feel like you’re shooting globally.
HUTTON: It added so much to the story and when you look at the episode, it’s incredible some of the scenes outside.
AX: Alcohol has played a big part with Nate throughout the first three seasons, so where does he stand with that in Season 4. Is this still a struggle?
HUTTON: Nate absolutely still has issues with drinking. I think in Season 4 it’s less about getting buried by the bottle and more about a genuine effort to be present and forward-thinking and mission oriented and not wanting to put the team in jeopardy. It doesn’t mean he’s quite drinking by any means, but he’s making a more concerted effort to be more reliable to the team and himself and he’s trying hard to do it. It’s difficult for him, but he finds other vices, work being the biggest one, which absolute consumes him and makes him want to control and micromanage every detail. While he moves away from the dependency a little bit, he becomes dependent in other areas and other things that aren’t necessarily healthy either.
HUTTON: Any final thoughts on Season 4?
AX: I think people who already like the show and people who haven’t yet seen the show, the episodes are better than ever. We all feel the shows we’ve been making this year are great and we have tremendous guest stars like Danny Glover and Eric Stoltz. The cons are also bigger than ever and more complex and the action is too. It’s the best season yet.
(additional reporting by A.C. Ferrante)
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