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By Suzanne

Interview with Aldis Hodge of "Leverage" on TNT  6/9/11.

This is the second time I was fortunate enough to speak to Aldis. He seems like such a nice, down-to-earth guy. Leverage is a great show, and I recommend everyone watch it. It's definitely one of my favorites. All the actors are wonderful in it, the writing is fantastic, and there is a lot of humor and action as well as great drama.

TURNER ENTERTAINMENT
Moderator: Wendy Levison
June 9, 2011
12:40 pm CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainment hosted Aldis Hodge Leverage conference call. Todayís call is being recorded. At this time Iíd like to turn the conference over to Ms. Wendy Levison. Please go ahead.

Wendy Levison: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining the Aldis Hodge Leverage conference call. Leverage premieres Sunday, June 26 at 9:00 pm Eastern/Pacific on TNT. The conference call is now open for question. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator: And once again everyone if you wish to ask a question today, you can do so by pressing the star key followed by the digit 1 on your telephone keypad. Keep in mind if you are using a speakerphone today please release your mute function to allow the signal to reach the equipment. Once again star 1 for questions.

And we will take the first question from Mike Desotell with Eagle Herald Newspaper. Go ahead please.

Mike Desotell: Good morning Aldis. How are you?

Aldis Hodge: Hey. Iím doing fine. How are you doing?

Mike Desotell: Great. Hey one of the things that struck me when reading a little bit about your bio is that you actually played the violin and I did see you doing that in one of your episodes. Right.

Aldis Hodge: Oh yeah. She has a lot of jazz.

Mike Desotell: Any plans to hear - now was that actually you playing during that?

Aldis Hodge: While we filmed it, I actually played to a track. Itís much easier for editing when I can play to the track without mistakes but I did learn the song and I played it terribly but I did play it. Itís a beautiful song though.

Mike Desotell: Oh cool. Any other opportunities coming up to hear your music in future episodes do you think?

Aldis Hodge: Iím not sure but this is actually a pretty common and familiar question so Iím thinking we might have to revisit that if thatís what the people want.

Mike Desotell: Oh cool. And the other question I have and I donít want to take a lot of your time because I know thereís going to be a lot of people waiting for you but you got started pretty young; about 11 - 12 years old with - between Brothers and NYPD Blue. How did you - how did your talents get discovered and, you know, how did you pursue them to greater things.

Aldis Hodge: Letís see. Well I started when I was 3 years old in New York. My brother and I we were on Sesame Street for about two years and then, you know, we did a few things here and there. I did a film called Die Hard with a Vengeance and then after that we ended up on Broadway for about two and a half years.

Really I was watching my brother because heís - my brother, Edwin Hodge, heís the one who started first and I followed suit and I just kind of learned from and was inspired by him doing it at first. And my mom just, you know, she supported me and allowed me to do - to pursue my dreams.

But I think because my mother made it a privilege and not necessarily a priority, at a young age was why we were forced to make sure that we wanted this because she said look, education always comes first. If you donít have those As, there will be no acting. No As and Bs, no acting, no auditioning, no nothing.

So we had to really - she made us earn this acting thing. So, you know, it were forced us to actually learn the world we were in, immerse ourselves in the craft of it and try to be our best at it because we wanted it and we had to earn it. It wasnít given to us.

Mike Desotell: Well having Marines as parents I guess can be a little tough but rewarding at the same time.

Aldis Hodge: She was definitely strict but my motherís a sweet lady. Sheís one of the sweetest ladies I know. Sheís the best lady I know. So yeah. She was very much a discipline enforcer though and all about the education.

Mike Desotell: Aldis, thank you very much.

(Crosstalk)

Aldis Hodge: Iím not mad at it because itís gotten me where I am today so.

Mike Desotell: Well, there you go. Well thank you so much and itís been a pleasure. Thank you.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you.

Operator: And weíll now take a question from Jenny Rarden with tvismypacifier.com.

Jenny Rarden: Hi. Thank you. Iím a huge fan of the show. My husband and I watched it from the beginning and itís been great to see all of the characters kind of have grown since the beginning.

One thing we saw last season was the relationship between Hardison and Parker start to grow; especially in the second half of the season. And then in the season premiere, you know, we see them kind of apart. I mean we donít really see much between the two of them specifically until the end I guess when itís a thank God youíre okay type of situation.

What can we see from the season this year?

Aldis Hodge: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Parker and Hardison - they definitely take major steps as far as, you know, realizing their affection for one another and how they feel. And theyíre growing. They definitely grow emotionally. They - their bond of friendship grows and gets a lot stronger this season.

Now as far as romantically, itís still something that theyíre figuring out and trying to test the waters. They donít know if they should or shouldnít. You know, it can ruin a lot.

You know, itís very scary and very new and very exciting but we see them play with that idea more and more throughout the season and it gets juicy. Thatís all I can say.

Jenny Rarden: Well excellent. Weíre routing for it because I think you just - you guys make just the cutest pair. So.

Aldis Hodge: Oh, thank you.

Jenny Rarden: And then I had one other quick question. Nateís drinking. How is that going to affect at all - is it going to affect at all this season?

Aldis Hodge: You know I think at this point the team is used to having a drunk and I think they just let him go his way. You know, weíll see how it plays out. I canít say anything on it because I want the audience to see. But it does play out a little bit early this season but as far as Hardisonís character, specifically, you know, I think he understands who Nate is and who Nate has been for the past few years.

So heís, you know, just - heís always just about look, you do what you want to do as long as we get the job done.

Jenny Rarden: Right. All right. Well, I canít wait to see the rest of the season so thank you very much.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you very much Jenny.

Operator: Now I would like to remind everyone star 1 for questions and we are going to ask that you limit yourself to one question to allow maximum participation with Q&A today. And now we will move to a question from Danielle Turchiano with LA Examiner. Please go ahead.

Danielle Turchiano: Hey. Thanks for doing the call today.

Aldis Hodge: Thanks Danielle. Hey.

Danielle Turchiano: So the season opener obviously started with the Big Bang. Iím wondering if you can talk a little bit about whatís coming up for Hardison and what - in terms of what was the most fun for you to shoot; maybe a scene or a moment from a future season four episode.

Aldis Hodge: Well my favorite episode to shoot - I have to say (not) episode 4 or 5 (a bank roll job). I basically got to play young Danny Glover because he comes in. Heís narrating his story and the characters go back in time and we met. We are seen as the character that heís telling the story about so, you know, I get to basically be the younger version of him which is an honor to because it Danny Glover. Itís like acting royalty right there.

So I was really honored to have that experience and that opportunity but as far as like where - whatís going on with Hardison for this season. I think heís been forced more than, you know, more than a couple of times to challenge his romantic feelings for Parker and thatís something heís trying to figure out. I think that, out of all things, is his biggest adversary.

So and not necessarily in a negative way; itís just something that heís trying to figure out, you know, whether he should or shouldnít. So heís going to keep testing those waters. But as far as him personally, I think heís gotten himself together and heís back on track. You know, heís back doing the same thing. He (doing it) and heís doing it well.

Danielle Turchiano: And this is a quick follow-up. In the Danny Glover homage episode, do you get to do any stunts or any fight scenes.

Aldis Hodge: I canít tell you that.

Danielle Turchiano: I know. Iíve got to try.

Aldis Hodge: Thereís a lot of running. I can tell you that.

Danielle Turchiano: All right. Awesome. Thank you.

Aldis Hodge: Youíre welcome. Youíve gotta watch.

Danielle Turchiano: Okay. I will.

Aldis Hodge: Thereís a lot of exciting stuff. A lot of exciting stuff.

Operator: And now moving to a question from Lena Lamoray with lenalamoray.com.

Lena Lamoray: Hello. This is a pleasure to speak with you.

Aldis Hodge: ((inaudible)).

Lena Lamoray: Now wasnít the premiere episode how Hardison was reminded of all his climbing failures. Can you share any funny stories with regard to that?

Aldis Hodge: Yeah. Which episodes?

Lena Lamoray: The premiere.

Aldis Hodge: Okay. Yes.

Lena Lamoray: How they remind you of all your climbing failures? Can you share any funny stories ((inaudible))?

(Crosstalk)

Aldis Hodge: Can you repeat that one more time. It just broke up a little bit.

Lena Lamoray: Okay. Can you share any funny stories from the set with us?

Aldis Hodge: Oh - there. Iím sorry. There you go. Oh yeah. That was - it was an amazing time because we actually went to Mount Hood - we were shooting on the mountain and it just so happened that during our shooting time, they had the warning for the biggest blizzard that theyíve had in their history and we actually did - it was going on as we were shooting.

So we had that to deal with. But we had scenes where we were supposed to be coming in out of the snow all, you know, snowed up and all cold and all that kind of stuff and whenever they told us to go get snowed up, you know, like the director and production, they really - when they said that, they meant okay. Have makeup come around, toss some snow on us - a little fake snow and have us go do our thing.

The cast - our interpretation of it was go outside, go jump into the big pile of snow that was like ten feet down on set - you know, the first floor. So we were stuck on the second or third story. I donít know. And we kept jumping into the piles of snow. We kept having snowball fights in between takes and then we would come in and do the scene. But we would do that every single take.

But we got the job done. We got the job done. And then of course we go and make a video of ourselves jumping about ten feet down and then we show John Rogers, our creator, and he nearly has a heart attack.

So we almost killed somebody but weíre all good.

Lena Lamoray: Okay. Thank you so much.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you.

Operator: And now weíll hear from Suzanne Lanoue with the TV Megasite.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, Aldis. Nice to talk with you again.

Aldis Hodge: Hi. Thank you. Thank you.

Suzanne Lanoue: So now youíve had four years of the show. What - is there anything major that changed for you that you can think of like are you recognized more or whatís the biggest change?

Aldis Hodge: The response has definitely been amazing. Weíve been fortunate enough to have very loyal fans. Thereís a woman who goes by the moniker (Alley Cat Who) whoís built a fan site for me. I believe itís Aldis-Hodge.com. And sheís doing that of her own free will and to have somebody like actually put and invest their time to make a fan site around me - to me that blows my mind. I never really - I used to see it happen for like all these like celebrities and stars and you know, those kind of people.

Suzanne Lanoue: Right.

Aldis Hodge: And to have somebody do that for me is truly mind-blowing. I still donít really even understand it. Itís great. But sheís done that and itís really nice when you can walk around town and you know, the people that do recognize, they give respect and they show respect and they, you know, show that they appreciate your work because thatís what this is really all about.

I just want to make sure that Iím doing the right job and that people appreciate the effort that Iím putting in and it shows.

So that kind of an experience I canít really - itís very hard to duplicate. Itís very hard to explain but to have that in my life right now is really amazing and Iím truly blessed.

Suzanne Lanoue: It doesnít sound like success has changed you much so keep up the good work.

Aldis Hodge: Oh, thank you.

Suzanne Lanoue: Bye.

Operator: And as a reminder, star 1 if you have a question. Weíll now move to Stefan Blitz Forces of Geek. Go ahead please.

Stefan Blitz: Hey Aldis. How are you today?

Aldis Hodge: Whatís happening? Iím doing good. How are you doing?

Stefan Blitz: Iím good. I want to actually ask you something about you currently have 43 point - 19% of the vote on entertainment weekly to play Jackie Robinson. What - if you were to, you know, actually get the part, whatís ((inaudible)) to play Mr. Robinson.

Aldis Hodge: You say what drew me to...

Stefan Blitz: Well yeah. I mean what about Mr. Robinson obviously besides his, you know, legendary status as a character would draw you to play him.

Aldis Hodge: Well, I actually have no control over the poll side. I think thatís truly just the fan coming out and I didnít realize that thatís where it was but thatís pretty amazing so I really...

Stefan Blitz: You are - yeah. I mean.

(Crosstalk)

Stefan Blitz: You are the next highest is almost 18%. You have more than double the second runner up.

Aldis Hodge: Thatís awesome. That is freaking awesome. Iíve got to check that out.

Stefan Blitz: So if the producers were looking at this and saying, you know what, letís bring him in to talk about the part, what draws you to - what would draw you to playing - to play Jackie Robinson.

Aldis Hodge: Well itís the fact that Jackie Robinson is such a pioneer in his day. He had so much going against him in his timeframe; you know, with his ambition. And I think a little bit of that draws me still today for certain types of people and, you know, any time that you are that much of - I donít want to say a martyr but in a sense, he put himself out there in a world that really was saying hey, you have no chance. Youíre going to fail. And he did it. He broke through. He made a change and he contributed so much more to sports and even more to just the way of life and the way people think on a daily basis.

You know, and in a sense, I would say - in a sense of sports, you know, heís you know like, you know, MLK or Malcolm X to politics. You know what Iím saying?

He pioneered the change and he actually succeeded in doing that. And it was a change for people, not simply just himself. Itís not something that affected him solely. It wasnít a selfish endeavor. He pioneered a change for people whether he knew he was doing it or not.

So if ever I did get the chance to play such an honorable person, that would - I mean that would be - yeah, that would be like a dream for me. You know, whoever it is.

But man, Jackie Robinson. Man, heís - thatís the guy.

Stefan Blitz: Now, you know, the producers have to go to Entertainment Weekly and bring you in. So best of luck with everything in the new season.

(Crosstalk)

Aldis Hodge: (I got to) go on there and check it out.

Stefan Blitz: Is it - well I saw it on your Facebook page and I read and I was like you had the opportunity to see the results and I mean it was like, you know, you are by far the favorite.

Aldis Hodge: Thatís awesome. Look, tell them Iím in training. I have a softball game tomorrow and itís just...

Stefan Blitz: Well good luck with everything.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you very much.

Operator: And weíll take our final question today from Melissa Miller with Small Screen Scoop. Go ahead please.

Melissa Miller: Hi, thanks for talking today.

Aldis Hodge: Hey, thank you.

Melissa Miller: My question was do you have any favorite, you know, Hardison gets all the toys, all the text. Do you have any favorite texting that heís done or heís going to be doing at any point this season that really stood out to you?

Aldis Hodge: Letís see. Let me see, let me see, let me see, let me see. I think - Iím not certain about this season just yet. I know last season I really had fun with the EMP gun. That was pretty cool.

Melissa Miller: Yeah.

Aldis Hodge: But this season - I mean we still have so much more to go. Weíve got eight more episodes so I think Iíll have to get back to you on that.

Melissa Miller: Okay. So sort of a follow-up. Does anyone think like in ((inaudible)) that youíre sort of more technically advance maybe than you are just because you know how people assume that people who play doctors are somehow medically qualified to help them. Do people like expect you to have...

Aldis Hodge: Yeah. No some think that all the time and I disappoint people all the time and Iím like look guys. I read lines. Iím an actor. I - my job is to pretend professionally.

So youíve got to realize that. But yeah. No, people think that Iím some kind of wiz and you know just Iím not. But you know Iíve learned a little bit along the way. Itís still not enough to be anywhere near the - in competition with my character but Iím getting by.

Melissa Miller: Thatís cool. Thatís cool. And then just because Iím last I want to ask one last thing. How many times did you rehearse the State Farm jingle before you did the commercial?

Aldis Hodge: Oh Lord. I donít rehearsals, I just shoot.

Melissa Miller: Okay. I just see like you in the mirror singing the State Farm thing.

Aldis Hodge: The problem ((inaudible)).

Melissa Miller: Awesome. Okay. Well thank you.

(Crosstalk)

Aldis Hodge: Thank you. And itís Melissa right.

Operator: That was Melissa. Thatís correct. And that will conclude todayís question and answer session. Iíll turn the call back over to Wendy for closing remarks.

Wendy Levison: Thank you so much for joining todayís call. As a reminder Leverage premieres Sundays, June 26 at 9:00 pm Eastern/Pacific on TNT. A transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours. Thank you Aldis and thank you all for participating.

Aldis Hodge: Okay.

Operator: And that does conclude todayís call. Thank you for your participation.

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