Interview: Timothy Hutton of Leverage

| June 24, 2009

With the start of the second season of Leverage just a few weeks ago, star and Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton participated in a conference call recently to discuss what we can expect to see in the second season from the team and his character, Nathan .
In the first episode, the team reunites, and Nathan is having a hard time, as he isn’t sure if that’s what he wants to go back to again, yet with them to do one more job, he realizes he misses them.. In Boston. he’s quit drinking, and has put a lot of things behind him, tying up a lot of his emotions. As far as the drinking goes, the second season was all about staying off the bottle, and drinking allows him to self-medicate and escape, and represents something terrifying to him, that feeling of getting out of control or getting lost. He replaced what the bottle did for him in the first season with the need to be in control, to the point of being too much, and it’s cause for concern with the rest of the team.
Hutton refers to the relationship of Nate and Sophie as being quite complicated, due to the arrival of his ex at the end of the last season, as it made Sophie realize she’s “investing a lot of time and energy into a man that has a lot of complicated baggage.” At the beginning of this season we’ll see those feelings surface, and by the seventh episode of the season, Nate and Sophie’s relationship will come to a very interesting place.
Timothy agrees with a caller that maybe some of the success of the show is caused by what’s happening in the world today, yet he thinks taking down the people that have ripped you off is one that’s always been done, yet it resonated more now because some of the storylines are ripped from the headlines. They’re doing a story this year on a guy that’s on house arrest, and the team needs to get into his penthouse apartment the only time he’s allowed to leave, similar of course to Bernie Madoff. He calls the writers “absolutely giddy” with some of the storylines they came up with this year.
Although he plays a character on Leverage who is out for revenge, Hutton doesn’t recall ever feeling that way much himself. He jokes even if he’s run off the road, he knows it always happens at the worst time, such as when he’s late for something, yet even then he hasn’t felt the need for revenge. And while he’s had family members wronged in some way, he hasn’t exacted any revenge, although he does wish he had a Leverage team to go to. Hutton figures everyone has felt that feeling of getting ripped off.
Hutton’s character Nate isn’t just out for revenge, as he’s also the mastermind behind the team. The other team members all play a specific part as well, grifter, hacker, fighter, and thief. I asked Hutton if he couldn’t be the mastermind, which one of these other integral pieces of the team would he want to be. He called it a fun question, and thought the character of Parker, the thief (Beth Riesgraf) was the most like Nate, knowing how to get in and out of every situation, and being just a little crazy. The others would be fun as well, especially Elliot the fighter (Christian Kane), or as Hutton referred to him, “The Badass MoFo.”
Nate doesn’t seem to bare many similaraites to Hutton, who just sees his character as a pretty exhaustive person. To have to control everything and have the answer to everything, and not be an open book, is interesting to play, but he’s not much like that himself. Hutton looks more forward to being with people and talking to them about their experiences. He isn’t as cautious and closed off. Ford is all about the work and getting it done a certain way.
Hutton has a done a lot of directing, so I wondered if there were any plans for him to direct any episodes of Leverage. He tells me that’s not something he wants to do, as he’s in a very happy place, just playing Nate, and being part of that team. The offset dynamics, chemistry, and relationships between the five of them, he feels are very solid right now and they enjoy being around each other. He doesn’t know if he would want to step outside of what is feeling so good right now. They’ve had such good directors so far on the show anyway.
Looking at the fact that there are currently a lot of film actors on TNT right now, such as himself, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kyra Sedgwick, and Holly Hunter, it was posed to Hutton that perhaps the stigma of TV vs. movie actors has been lifted. He hasn’t noticed a stigma, though, personally, remembering himself doing a number of TV movies before his Oscar-winning role in Ordinary People. He’s never felt there was a difference and has always gone back and forth between the two mediums. He did the Nero Wolfe thing as well as a year on Kidnapped, and to him he looks at the material more than anything else.
Winning the Oscar at such a young age, I considered that it may have had some type of profound mark on the type of work that Hutton is offered and how he plays those roles. He answered the second half of the question, saying he did everything he could to put that experience of winning the Academy Award behind him and to only associate it with a movie, and not a career. He certainly didn’t feel he was in any more of a position to know what he was doing after his award than he was before it. He always approached each new role with a fresh look, and any awards he received had to be left behind. They were certainly enjoyed, but not brought int the future work.
Hutton compares it to a tool kit, saying that tool kit shouldn’t change over the time you have it, and if you win trophies, you don’t put the in the tool box, as they aren’t tools. It would seem with that statement like he just let a little of Nate out of the box.

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