Timothy Hutton Interview: Leverage Season Three and Clooney’s Girlfriend

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: Timothy Hutton is an Academy Award winning film actor. Now he leads a team on the ensemble action show Leverage. When the show comes back this June on TNT, it will pick up after Nate Ford (Hutton)’s arrest, after he shared a kiss but got spurned by Sophie (Gina Bellman). You can catch up with the Season Two DVD now available. Hutton spoke with the media in a conference call and previewed season three’s new guest stars (including George Clooney’s gal Elisabetta Canalis) and adventures, as the Leverage team continues to pull scams and heists to protect their clients.

Q: What guest stars are going to be on the show this season?

Timothy Hutton: Well, this year, just like last year, we’ve got some really great guest stars. We’ve got Michael O’Keefe, Giancarlo Esposito, John Schneider, Arye Gross, Richard Chamberlain, Clancy Brown, some great people that join us this year.

Q: Where are things going for Nate and Sophie this year?

TH: Well, at the start of season three, what happens with Nate and Sophie is that they find it very difficult to talk about the kiss that happened on the ship there. Sophie wants to talk about the kiss and Nate wants to talk about the slap. As I said one time before, it’s sort of that’s the nature of their relationship right there, a kiss followed by a slap. Both gestures having quite great meaning for both of them but it’s something that’s dealt with in season three. They come upon it when they’re alone and they sort of dance around the issue a little bit but there are some nice moments trying to figure out what’s going on between them as season three goes on.

Q: Will we be seeing more of the drunken disheveled Nate or back to the more put together, cool Nate?

TH: I think with season three you’re going to see very determined Nate Ford, a man on a mission. He gets in jail and he’s determined once he gets out, if he gets out because we don’t really want to say whether he does or not, but he’s determined to take on much bigger cases and to get the team reunited and kick off season three as sort of a man on a mission. The drinking and being disheveled and not being in control of anything is going to be put aside for the time being. It certainly comes up again during the third season based on issues that happen in Nate’s life that come out of the woodwork. There’s sort of a haunting figure we never expected we would see but someone comes out of the shadows and comes back into Nate’s life. We really learn why Nate is the way he is. That’s going to perhaps put him into a state again that we’ve seen before.

Q: What other changes in Nate will we see?

TH: I think the biggest change, once he declared at the end of season two, “My name is Nate Ford and I am a thief,” what we see in season three is a much more determined, sober man who is absolutely determined to help as many people as he can take down the worst, horrible people that are ripping people off, taking advantage of people. He doesn’t care how powerful they are or even who they are or what they are. The team takes on drug cartels, governments. They’ll take down anybody and they’re fearless. The means with which they do it are very clever and dangerous. Nate Ford now that he’d declared that, he is absolutely a man on a mission. He will stop at no end. He’ll just keep at it until he can square things off for people who’ve been ripped off and swindled.

Q: What was it like filming an episode in prison?

TH: Season three begins with Nate in prison. We found this amazing place that was built and never finished in the Portland, Oregon area, this high tech prison that was never quite completed but this one wing was. Now a lot of the prison is used for office space but this one wing we took over. There weren’t any real inmates but we had many extras for those scenes. We filmed those scenes here in Portland. Each show is a 7 day shoot. I think we were in the prison for five out of the 7 days. For me it was a great way to start season three to have Nate in jail. If he’s going to get out of jail, it has to happen after he takes care of something that’s very important to him that’s going on inside the prison.

Q: Will we get to learn more about the other members of the Leverage team?

TH: Yeah, one of the things that’s happening in the third season which is great, the first six or seven shows are very much about learning who Hardison is, where he came form. There’s a Parker episode where we learn a lot about her background and her past and we meet her mentor, who is Richard Chamberlain. We learn a lot about Sophie in one of the episodes and a lot about Christian Kane’s character, Spencer, in an episode about the Memphis music business, and a corrupt music producer played by John Schneider. You’re given not just in quick little flashbacks but almost dedicated episodes that explore each of the characters in depth.

Q: What will Elisabetta Canalis be playing?

TH: Working with Elisabetta was great and she’s going to be doing more shows with us as the season goes on. She’s set up as a very central figure. When the audiences see the first show, they’ll see that she and Nate make a deal that the rest of the team is not very happy about. Nate makes a deal, he’s kind of blackmailed in a way to accepting a deal to go after someone. She’s the one who presents that plan and they have secret clandestine meetings throughout the season. She’s such a lovely person and she brought great excitement when she came to the set. She was so excited to be in the show and she worked so hard. She was worried her accent was too thick. One of the great things is her accent. She’s working very hard to minimize the accent and we all wanted her to have the accent. Anyway, we’re all looking forward to her coming back. I’ve already seen some of the shows she’s in. She’s just great and really adds this dangerous spy in from the cold element to the show.

Q: Now that you’re on a third season and it looks like Leverage will be on for a while, how comfortable do you feel in the TV world?

TH: To me, it’s just a great job. It’s a great work environment. I’m working with wonderful actors on a great network. It’s just a really good situation. Great writing and fun character, complex character. So many different directions the show could go in, the group dynamic is wonderful, the fact they become this dysfunctional family. I hope it lasts a good while longer. I really like doing the show. It hasn’t taken me away from doing other things. I think since we started doing Leverage I’ve done four or five movies when we’re on break from doing Leverage. It’s not like I have to do one or the other. I’m going to be doing a play probably next year when we’re on break. It’s six months out of the year and it’s a wonderful six months. I really enjoy working on Leverage.

Q: What play?

TH: Well, I can’t mention the title of the play yet because it’s changing. It was in one situation and now I can’t really talk about it except to say it’s a play that I’m going to be doing in London on the west end in the fall of 2011 most likely.

Q: Are you equally comfortable playing the comedic aspects of Leverage?

TH: Well, one of the things the show has sort of evolved into is it’s not just strictly a heavy drama or a caper show, pulling off these cons and heists. I think it started with the chemistry and rapport the cast had shooting the pilot in Chicago. We used to crack each other up and pull pranks on one another. We just had a fun way with one another and it kind of spilled onto the set a little bit. In the pilot and season one we started to improv and some nice banter started to develop. The writers picked up on it and thought well, we could have some fun with this. It’s great because for me the show has a nice balance of we learn about Nate’s backstory. There are some big moments of drama exploring his life and that character, but within the cons, taking on the roles within roles we’re playing lends itself to good comedy moments.

Q: Do you keep up with all of Leverage’s online followers?

TH: Well, it makes us feel great that people are interested in the show and that they’re following it on message boards and writing their comments. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It’s quite amazing. Christian Kane said there’s a lot of that on Angel but we all occasionally check in on that sort of thing and share some of the things that we’ve read. We get a kick out of it. It’s great. Some of us are on Twitter. Actually all except Gina Bellman, we’re trying to convince her to. We make videos from the set. It’s kind of an interesting time. You’re able to put things out there directly. I’ve experienced where I’ll do a little video from m iPhone and I’ll put it out their as a tweet or a twitvid. Boom, all these responses come back from people watching the show. If anyone wants to get news from the set or watch these videos, my name on Twitter is @TimHutton. I post things quite often.

Q: You know, it’s the 30th anniversary of Ordinary People. Are there going to be any special retrospectives on it?

TH: You know, I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything. A couple of things have come up but I haven’t heard if Paramount’s doing anything or Redford’s doing anything. I remember when the 25th anniversary came and went I thought it would be a good opportunity but I can’t believe it’s 30 years. Did I expect I’d still be at it? I don’t know, around the time I was doing Ordinary People I still wasn’t sure that that was the path I wanted to be on or was going to stay on. I guess it’s kind of amazing I’m still at it and very fortunate this became my line of work.

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