Interview with Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge of "Leverage" on TNT Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge

Interview with Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge of "Leverage" on TNT 11/7/12

I love "Leverage". It's one of my favorite shows. The cast is always so nice to speak to on these interviews. I have a special fondness for Aldis Hodge, who was my first one-on-one interview years ago!

Moderator: Lindsey Jones
November 7, 2012
2:00 pm CT

Operator: Please stand by. Weíre about to begin. Good day everyone and welcome to the Turner Entertainment Leverage Conference Call. Just a reminder that todayís call is being recorded. Now for opening remarks and introductions Iíll turn the conference over to Lindsey Jones. Lindsey, please go ahead.

Lindsey Jones: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining the Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge Leverage Conference Call. Leverage premieres Tuesday, November 27 at 10:00 pm Eastern on TNT. The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, as Lindsey said it is star one to ask a question. If youíre using a speakerphone be sure to disengage your mute function to allow your signal to reach our equipment. And weíll take our first question today from Suzanne Lanoue with The TV MegaSite.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, thanks for taking our call.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, thanks for calling in.

Suzanne Lanoue: You guys are great. I love Leverage. Itís one of my favorite shows. You always look like youíre having so much fun. Is it as fun as it looks?

Aldis Hodge: Definitely.

Beth Riesgraf: No, itís terrible; Iím kidding.


Beth Riesgraf: Especially when I have to work with that one.

Aldis Hodge: Exactly. Thatís whatís so difficult; oh, gees. No, itís a real great time on the set. The thing that keeps getting tossed around on the set that seems remarkable the most is actually work with is the fact that weíve been together for five years and we all still actually are civil and like each other. You know we have a really good rapport; we respect each other. Iím talking about from the top, you know, executive producers all of the way down to the crew because, you know, it takes everybody to make a machine work but it also takes good attitudes.

And thatís something thatís kind of like established from our executive producers, Dean and John and Chris and then also, you know, with the cast ourselves. When we donít have the executives on site and weíre on set and having to handle our business we also take that leadership role and all of us, especially Beth over there, sheís probably one of the most positive people I know. But we all try to make sure that everybodyís got a good, you know, attitude going on on the set because we all just want to do the right job and go home. Do you know what I mean?

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes.

Aldis Hodge: Have a good time doing it.

Beth Riesgraf: I concur.

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, I enjoyed watching the next four episodes and I think my favorite was the Christmas one.

Beth Riesgraf: Youíve already seen it?

Aldis Hodge: Are you talking about last year?

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, no they sent them out in advance to some of us so; the next four of them.

Aldis Hodge: Oh, youíre talking about the one coming out?

Suzanne Lanoue: Yes, yes.

Aldis Hodge: The one coming out that...

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, thereís one thatís funny.

Aldis Hodge: ...people have not seen yet.

Suzanne Lanoue: What?

Beth Riesgraf: Oh, I know; I havenít seen that one either.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, you havenít; well it will be like unwrapping Christmas present.

Aldis Hodge: Yes.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, that one was a lot of fun. Thereís a really good outtake with Aldis and the Baby Joy rage.

Aldis Hodge: Maybe.

Suzanne Lanoue: Is that going to be on the DVD?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes thatís awful; itís going to be on the DVD. Yes, not good.

Suzanne Lanoue: Beth, you guys need to do - you guys both do a lot of hanging from things and climbing things. Beth, do you like that? Is it something fun?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, it is really fun. I mean I look at it like I could be stuck in an office or a courtroom for 15 hours a day on a show and, you know, Iím sure Iíd make it fun but this is a lot more exciting and it really keeps it moving for me. So if I did have any fears of heights I guess before I started the show I donít have them now which is kind of funny. But it does keep it interesting and I do like it.

You know not to mention sometimes when youíre in a closed space filming for a long time your space sort of feels small and then when we get to go out on a roof and we have wires and all the camera guys everybody just kind of like livens up because itís fresh air and it feels really good. So thereís a lot of reasons that I like being on that roof - or those roofs.

Suzanne Lanoue: Iíll bet. Well thanks; Iíll let someone else have a chance. Keep up the good work.

Beth Riesgraf: Thanks.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you.

Operator: Once again ladies and gentlemen star one. Weíll go next to Earl Dittman with Wireless and Digital Journal.

Earl Dittman: Hi guys, how are you this morning?

Beth Riesgraf: Good how are you?

Earl Dittman: Doing great, great. I have to say Aldis, I think I talked to you first season; Beth, I talked to you second season. I know back then we were - you know the show was just still kind of getting itís legs and who knew that five years later youíd still be doing it. Are you all sometimes have to pinch yourselves to think wow this is really gone on this long and weíre still having a great time doing it?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, definitely. I think...

Earl Dittman: What do you think it is about? Go ahead.

Beth Riesgraf: Oh, Iíll go first and then Iíll let - Iíll say yes, I definitely have to pinch myself. I mean part of it itís strange because we relocate for half the year and then when we come back to our normal lives in a weird way it feels like we never left. But at the same time I miss being in that pacing you know.

So itís gone by very fast for me. But in hindsight Iím like, ďOh gosh, weíve really been going for a long run here.Ē And weíve built a big fan pace and more and more when we go out, you know, people are saying how much they love the show and the online fan base has just been incredibly supportive and itís growing still. So it feels really good; itís been a lot of fun.

Earl Dittman: Thatís good. Aldis?

Aldis Hodge: I actually was going to say something damn near the same in that because when we work we keep our heads down and we plow through it and it does go by very fast. But weíre still focused on getting the work done and doing it right. That just really there is very little time to reflect and enjoy all that weíve accomplished. You know youíve got to get through it and you come home and I donít realize it necessarily until I talk to people and theyíre like, ďWell, like how long have you guys been going?Ē And Iím like, ďEpisode 50.Ē And theyíre like, you know - and they, ďOh, my God; wow. Really?Ē

And then thatís when I kind of reflected that we have really made strides here. But to get to the point it really truly is a blessing. Every season that we did to me is a milestone. Itís like just another proud moment - just another accomplishment to add in the book. You know regardless of how far we go, you know, this is what weíve done and what we have accomplished. You canít replace it ever. Nothingís ever going to top this; you know this is amazing. Iím at a loss right now. However, I am not done - neither of us is done; we are ready to go for a sixth and a seventh and a eighth season you know.

Earl Dittman: All right.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, I mean and I was going to add to that just to say like I think part of why itís been so successful. People who have given the show a chance and taken the time to watch it they fall in love with the characters. I mean I think just as much as we have as artists we have so much fun playing them and I think that genuinely people like to have fun. They like being entertained and I think our show is really good at that.

Earl Dittman: Well you know another thing from my end that Iíve noticed to people Iíve talked to is that you can - they can stop watching it for maybe a couple of episodes or maybe even a year and come back and fall in love with it again. Itís not the kind of show you have to follow to get it. I mean you can come in at any time and people like that. They donít have to worry about sitting and having to watch it every week-after-week. And itís still amazing that...

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, they donít feel obligated.

Earl Dittman: Yes, they donít feel obligated but they still have a great time after they see it. So itís just been working great. Yes, Iím looking for Season 10 and talk to you all again.

Beth Riesgraf: Oh, thanks.

Earl Dittman: Well, Iíll let someone else chat and Iíll come back to you all in a bit. Thanks.

Beth Riesgraf: Thank you.

Aldis Hodge: Thanks.

Operator: Again ladies and gentlemen, star one for questions. Weíll pause just a moment. And weíll take our next question from Lisa Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

Lisa Steinberg: Hi, itís such a pleasure to speak with you both.

Beth Riesgraf: Hi Lisa, is that you on Twitter?

Lisa Steinberg: That is me.

Beth Riesgraf: Hi.

Lisa Steinberg: Yes, both of you were kind enough...

Beth Riesgraf: I got a lot of questions.

Lisa Steinberg: Thatís right we did. I was wondering if there was anything about your roles that you brought to it that wasnít scripted.

Beth Riesgraf: Well, Aldis brought his handsomeness and I donít know if that was put in. Iím kidding.

Aldis Hodge: Well, just more pleasure for you.

Beth Riesgraf: He brought abundance of handsomeness - an abundance of that. Well gosh, thatís a hard question for me. I think we do so much improv on the show and weíre all such a well-oiled unit or machine at this time I feel like itís been such a collaboration between the writers and us. I think theyíve seen things we can do well and they think of that when theyíre writing a scene.

And like for example I know Aldis and Christian can improv together and come up with such great material when left to their own devices. So like I think they sort of - theyíve learned and by observing like what we like to do and we have a lot of fun. And sometimes it works; sometimes it doesnít. But I think some of the quirks that makes it is like little acts sometimes thrown in there have definitely become part of the show as a staple now.

Aldis Hodge: Yes. The best part about the show is our producers and creators they pretty much, you know, gave us free range to implement much of our own personalities and our own ideas because, you know, weíve got to live with them for so many years so definitely I think my humor came in a different way. My candor and my sense of sarcasm is what kind of throw a harness in that and if I made to think how that that it is she added complexity to Parker that thatís not necessarily intended or, you know, assumed from the beginning.

Because she has so many moments where, you know, you get to see Parker in a real moment where sheís showing emotion and that just carries it out. She tears it up so expertly. I mean sheís a - she has so many moving moments for Parker that I donít think were necessarily thought of in the beginning. And I think that, you know, she continues to compound on Parkerís depth.

And, you know, it all plays into the fact that we do have freedom to help build these characters how we see fit because of the fact that itís collaboration. Itís a collaborative effort. The writers, the producers, and then also the actors to make these, you know, lasting characters and those substantial television figures you know what I mean?


Lisa Steinberg: Although Kendra has such a brotherly rapport with Eliot; is that something that was originally written for you? I mean you guys seem to have such great chemistry and sort of always catch you two fighting over food.

Aldis Hodge: Yes, no that was not originally written; the relationship between Eliot and Hardison kind of came out of the relationship between Christian and myself really. When we first met was on an elevator going up to the final audition for Leverage and, you know, we had an exchange there and talked and we kind of, you know, like hey man I hope you get it yada-yada. And then the next time we saw each other was at the fitting forum and like hey, you know, this is the dude - my dude got it.

From there we allowed our relationship to grow with the characters and we made decisions like conscious effort that all right we want these characters to do - to find this kind of relationship because theyíre always back and forth, you know, picking at each other. But we donít want people to think that they dislike each other.

Lisa Steinberg: Right.

Aldis Hodge: You know they need to know that thereís respect there; thereís love there; and that these guys would die for each other if that was the case. But they still can have fun poking at each other while theyíre at you know what I mean? So it was - itís always been on the top of Christian and my list to make sure these characters - you always make sure that they are indebted to one another you know what I mean? That they have a real relationship and that...

Lisa Steinberg: Well it comes off that way.

Beth Riesgraf: And I just want to say - I want to add something - I was just going to add something like I think itís - I mean you can definitely create that with people who maybe you donít get along with. I mean thatís why weíre actors. But at the same time like Christian and Aldis are both so charismatic and charming in real life that I feel like theyíre people that already have that.

You know I mean I think Tim obviously - Tim and Gina too; but itís - Iíll just define you two for this second. But like you two naturally have that ability to just have fun and, you know, kind of poke fun without - you donít have like an aggressive, mean natured spirit with these characters you know what I mean. Like weíre all really good at what we do and even though Christian fights and is like the ultimate weapon when it comes to friendship itís like those two guys are really loyal and I think that comes across. I think itís cool.

Lisa Steinberg: Oh, it definitely comes across.

Aldis Hodge: Right.

Lisa Steinberg: It definitely seems more like a sibling rivalry than it does a dislike for one another. You guys can see the playful banter between the two of you. And thereís also such great chemistry between you Beth and Aldis. Is there more - a more noticeable romance between you all coming up?

Beth Riesgraf: Well itís funny. I donít know. We actually tried something that pushed the envelope and it didnít make the final edit. I mean they took it out.

Lisa Steinberg: Iggity-iggity.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.


Beth Riesgraf: I donít know if the network was ready for it yet. It might have been a little too intense you know.

Aldis Hodge: I think the chemistry between Beth and I come naturally felt. Itís easy to make these characters like one another or be likeable in the same setting because Beth and I are friends. But like the first time we actually hung out in Chicago and done a pilot like we went shopping.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, we did.

Aldis Hodge: That was fun. And itís just the respect is there naturally off camera you know what Iím saying. Thatís my buddy right there. Whenever Iím in in scene I feel safe with Beth because I know that sheís going to perform and I can try different things with my character because sheís just going to bring it right back.

And that comfort and that security and faith in your fellow actor really helps a lot when it comes to performing or creating a scene. Because when youíre on set regardless of what the script says, regardless of what the director says, when it comes to action and the actors are doing their thing youíre still creating a scene. Thereís so many nuances that come out that when it - so it takes, you know - pardon my French - it takes a bad-ass actor to cool and compliment their fellow worker in order for them to do their job properly and help excel them and thatís what I have in Beth you know what I mean?

And thatís what I have in Christian and my fellow actors on Leverage. You know these guys theyíre topnotch. So thatís why it just looks easy because theyíre working hard you know what I mean?

Lisa Steinberg: Well great; thank you guys so much.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, thank you.

Operator: Once again ladies and gentlemen star one for questions. Weíll go back to Earl Dittman with the Wireless and Digital Journal.

Earl Dittman: That was a quick one. I was going to say I talked to Tim about a month or two ago and he was talking about what he really likes about working with all of you is that thereís a real sense of family now. That all of these years you all kind of become almost like brothers and sisters and, you know, related. Do you all sense that among yourselves? I mean do you all feel that and you rely on each other? Are you friends outside of the set or...

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, definitely. I mean we all hang out after work and you know on the weekends we definitely call each other and around the holidays, you know, everybody has got their kids and inviting everybody over for dinner or barbecues. I mean we definitely - weíre our home away from our home you know and itís a cool thing for me as sometimes those relationships sort of dissolve after a job ends and itís sad. You know you miss those people.

And with this show weíve all - even when we go to our separate homes and back to our lives we all stay in touch and it doesnít feel like itís ever going to go away which is amazing. Like we are in this, you know, as friends and have become a family.

Aldis Hodge: Yes, that literally keeps us together on the show is just simply, you know, feeding those relationships that weíve established, you know, five years ago.

Earl Dittman: And does it help in your acting? Does it make you able to take chances knowing that you have people behind you that will be there to catch you if you fall proverbially?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, totally. And I also...

Aldis Hodge: Oh go ahead Beth.

Beth Riesgraf: Sorry, go ahead. No, you go first.

Aldis Hodge: I was just saying the last question that I was just answering I was saying just that because everybody is topnotch and on their game. I feel secure and safe with my fellow actors; safe enough that I can take chances. Because you know with show thereís still a lot of acting outside of the scene. Like what will be on top - sometimes after shooting a scene in a different place weíre not even there to see the performance.

However, you know we know each other so well and we know each otherís skill set that we can perform with them not even being in the room understanding that, you know, I can say this here and I can do this here because I know, you know, my fellow cast mate well enough that they did this. They did their job. You know they came in like this. We can take our chances because everybody is on top of their game.

Earl Dittman: Yes, yes. Go ahead; you were going to say something Beth. Iím sorry.

Beth Riesgraf: Oh no, itís okay. He answered it so well. I think thatís true and I was just going to say thereís days - there have been days where, you know, we have to go to work even if weíre fighting a flu or have fevers or, you know, whatever. And the fact of the matter is we all understand each other and if someone is having a tough day or a bad day, I mean we help each other out from somebody will be willing to rearrange their scene so the other one can get out earlier or if, you know, Gina needs to go be with her daughter or something thereís not one person that would not want to help out with that so.

Earl Dittman: Yes.

Beth Riesgraf: Thereís no selfish people in that way. Like we all I think even above the acting stuff, you know, we understand each other and we want to help each other out. So that does translate on screen and I think in the scenes like Aldis is saying we just know each other so well that it makes our job easy and itís not like itís always super easy but because itís a crazy schedule. But like it makes it fun really is my point, yes.

Earl Dittman: Well since there is such a gigantic fan base I have to ask what is the strangest fan encounter each of you have had? Or weird or just kind of just where you thought, ďOh my God, what was that all about?Ē Do you have one that sticks out?

Aldis Hodge: I mean the strangest thing that happened was one time this lady saw me and just immediately started crying. She didnít say anything; just started crying. I mean what do you do in that situation? I mean I was like okay this looks really bad. You know find a little lady, compose is like bad, go public, sheís crying, this looks bad. Get away; get away as fast as you can.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, I know. You started to battle like do I hug them or run from them. No, Iím just kidding.

Aldis Hodge: What am I supposed to do?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, it is a strange feeling to see that type of aspect, you know, happen - like created in somebody else. Youíre kind of like, ďOh my God.Ē And I completely get it because Iíve loved, you know, things that much where Iíve wanted to cry and itís just you are in their living room every week and they see us but we donít see them. So itís just I guess understanding that dynamic sometimes is interesting, yes.

Earl Dittman: So you just - like you were just kind of - she just stood and you say - I just walked away.

Aldis Hodge: No, she stood there and cried for a bit and then thank God my mother was there and I was looking at my mom like whatís up. But eventually she began speaking and I was like okay I get it now. But itís just weird because itís common human interaction like, you know, I donít understand, I donít know you, you look at me and youíre crying; Iím thinking something is wrong and puts the whole thing in my plate.

Iím not like, ďOh yes, she must be know me from the show. She must be sick.Ē Like none of that crosses my mind because I donít think about that in my daily life; you know itís my job. I go do my job and go home. But when I see a lady crying in the street Iím like what? But eventually, you know, like I said we cleared things up and it was very sweet of her. She was very nice and my impression and my interaction like that is amazing because sheís had a relationship with you. Youíre in their homes every single week...

Earl Dittman: Yes.

Aldis Hodge: ...sometimes every single day and the fact that someone can have that reaction that is major because what other job you really do on a daily basis where that occurs.

Earl Dittman: Yes.

Aldis Hodge: Reaching someone like that and not even know it; you know what I mean?

Earl Dittman: Beth, have you had anything like that happen?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, I mean I think I - itís funny because, you know, I always see the girls freaking out over Christian and Tim and Aldis. And when Christianís band plays in Portland, you know, I would see girls coming up and asking him to sign their body with a sharpie. I had seen that in movies but I was like, ďOh my God; it actually happens.Ē And then some of the have the signature tattooed and, you know, itís just amazing. I mean they have so much love and admiration that itís like they want that permanently on them. And Iíve always been like, ďOh, I get it.Ē

But then somebody had something I said I think tattooed on them once and...

Aldis Hodge: Wow.

Beth Riesgraf: was a little weird for a second because I was like, ďOh my God.Ē Like thatís amazing but you really - like I donít know; you just see the impact youíve had on someoneís life and ultimately John Rogers wrote the line, you know, but I said it and then that person was so touched or affected by it that they put it on their body for the rest of their lives. You know itís a little intense.

Earl Dittman: Yes, well Taylor Lautner just told - from Twilight just told me he had signed somebodyís wrist and she said, ďSign it right here.Ē And he said the next day she had it tattoo over his signature and he was like, ďOh my God; do you really like it that much.Ē So it must be a really weird feeling.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Earl Dittman: To have somebodyís name on their body the rest of your life then is strange. Well thank you so much; I appreciate the stories; really great. Thank you so much again.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Earl Dittman: Best of luck.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, totally; thanks. You too.

Operator: Once again ladies and gentlemen star one for questions. Weíll pause just a moment.

Aldis Hodge: Beth.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Operator: And weíll go back to Earl Dittman.

Aldis Hodge: Oh.

Earl Dittman: Go ahead; go ahead. You can talk to Beth; go ahead.

Aldis Hodge: Oh, I was going to say do you remember - see if you can figure out which line that is. I want to know which one it was.

Beth Riesgraf: So Iíll think of it. Yes, Iíll think of it.

Aldis Hodge: Okay.

Earl Dittman: Do you remember what season it was from?

Beth Riesgraf: Well, I think it - you know what? It may actually have been sometimes bad guys are the - what is it? The only good guys you get. It might have been that line or it might have been - I donít know what else it would have been.

Earl Dittman: Yes, yes; because thatís - again thatís - I guess itís a really good feeling but an odd feeling at the same time but to know that you all...

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Earl Dittman: I mean you all do such a great job. I mean literally you all do come into our houses every day because to TNT they run repeats, you know, of Leverage every day almost I think. And so people see you, you know, sometimes two or three times a day and the acting and your characters become so familiar and so loveable that people are just really just drawn to them. I mean I can step outside and ask friends and family what they think about it and, you know, theyíll give me an honest opinion. And everyone Iíve talk to they just love the show; they just canít get enough of it.

Beth Riesgraf: Oh, good.

Earl Dittman: And I think thatís a testament to the writing and to your great act - both of your acting and everybodyís.

Beth Riesgraf: Thanks.

Aldis Hodge: Thank you.

Earl Dittman: Now do - I noticed that - and maybe Iím just being stupid. But during your hiatus do you all like to do other projects like film projects and stuff?

Aldis Hodge: Oh, yes.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes, I do - I mean I definitely need some time to decompress because itís pretty intense the moving back and forth and readjusting takes some time but yes, I do like it.

Earl Dittman: Where do you move from? Do you live in LA and come back to LA?

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Earl Dittman: Okay.

Beth Riesgraf: Yes.

Earl Dittman: I was going to say...

Lindsey Jones: Okay, this will be our - oops sorry guys. We only have time for one more question.

Beth Riesgraf: Okay.

Earl Dittman: Is anything coming up then - anything coming up from - besides the show for either one of you?

Beth Riesgraf: I canít talk about it but...

Earl Dittman: Oh, okay.

Aldis Hodge: I have...

Beth Riesgraf: But maybe; possibly.

Earl Dittman: And Aldis, anything for you?

Aldis Hodge: Yes, I was just saying that I film coming out that I call the east thatís in postproduction right now. It should be out next year so, you know, hopefully I hope that things go well with that.

Earl Dittman: Fantastic. Okay well, Iíll let you all go. Thank you again so much for your time. I appreciate all of your answers and the best of luck and keep on doing what youíre doing.

Beth Riesgraf: Thank you.

Aldis Hodge: Thanks.

Lindsey Jones: Okay, thank you guys so much for joining todayís call; as a reminder Leverage premiers Tuesday, November 27th at 10:00 pm Eastern on TNT. A transcript of this call will be available within 24 hours. Thank you Beth and Aldis and thank you all for participating.

Aldis Hodge: Oh, thank you for having us.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation. This does conclude todayís conference. Have a great rest of your day.


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