Leverage: Redemption Bosses Explain the Revival’s Timely Take on Criminals

AbraxasOctober 8, 2021

Leverage: Redemption reunites most of the original cast of the TNT fan-favorite series, pitting a team of former criminal experts — Sophie (Gina Bellman), Eliot (Christian Kane), and Parker (Beth Riesgraf) along with old allies like Alec (Aldis Hodge) and new faces like Harry Wilson (Noah Wylie) and Breanna (Alyese Shannon) — against powerful people who’ve avoided facing justice. Although the show confronts several heavy topics, it never loses sight of the original show’s inherent sense of fun and adventure, giving the charming cast plenty to play with both in terms of dramatic and comedic storytelling. Behind the scenes, it can be a tricky balancing act, but one that the creators have perfected into a science.

During an exclusive interview with CBR ahead of Leverage: Redemption‘s return to IMDb TV on Oct. 8 with eight new episodes, Executive Producer Dean Devlin and Showrunner Kate Rorick spoke about the tonal tightrope the show has to walk, what it’s like to see the cast expand, and how Leverage: Redemption carries on the spirit of the original show.

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Leverage: Redemption

CBR: First of all, congratulations on the show’s revival! It’s just fun watching good, nice characters take on bad guys and use their abilities for good. Especially considering everything else that’s been going on in the world for the last… while. What is it like to have this as a creative outlet again?

Kate Rorick: I think you hit the nail on the head and that’s exactly why this was the right time to bring it back. The past eight, nine years have been these eight, nine years — where crime has become so much more brazen and criminals have kind of been like, “Yeah, I did it. What are you going to do about it?” And what we can do about it as little TV people, is that we can bring back the Leverage crew and show them kicking ass.

Dean Devlin: For years now, every time something outrageous happens in the news, my Twitter feed would fill up with people saying, “Where’s my Leverage team? We need the Leverage team to show up and right this wrong.” They’re back. The world’s going to get better.

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I do think that reflects one of the most interesting shifts in terms of storytelling for Leverage: Redemption. The city is very much the same, but the enemies they’re running into, the criminals they’re dealing with — they’ve reached such a point that the law is actively helping them in some cases. That may seem minor at first glance, but it’s quietly a major shift for the Leverage crew to deal with.

Rorick: What has become apparent is that crime is no longer about breaking the law. It’s about manipulating the law. I think that the addition of Harry Wilson’s character, who is a lawyer who has manipulated the law for people before, really throws it into sharp relief that, this is how the rich bad guys are getting away with stealing your house and everything else. So it speaks much more to this era, honestly.

Devlin: It’s more difficult for this team to accomplish their goals than it was in the past because criminalities have become more accepted. Purely from a filmmaking point of view, it ups the stakes and it gives a reason for the new show and it makes the plots a little bit harder to write. One of the things I was loved about Doctor Who was that the Doctor wouldn’t use a gun. He wasn’t going to resort to violence, which is cool as an idea, but when you’re writing something, it’s so much easier to pull up a gun and shoot the bad guy. So Doctor Who had to be more clever in how they took down the bad guy. I think by adding this complexity, yes, it makes this harder to write, but I think it makes it that much more satisfying when we do get them.

It’s most of the original cast returning to their roles, but there are also some fresh faces — not just Noah Wylie as Harry like you said, but also Alyese Shannon as Breanna. What was it like to have those two new perspectives brought into the group dynamic?

Rorick: Well, I think in terms of Breanna specifically, what’s most interesting about her to me is that she is a member of Gen Z. She’s much younger than the crew. She doesn’t remember the good old days. She doesn’t remember when people were cordial to each other as they tried to rip each other off. No, her first memories are of 9/11. So she’s coming at the world with much more of a, ‘”It all sucks, it’s up to me to fix it” thing. So that’s what I really enjoyed about her. That could make her a little bit headstrong, a little bit too gung ho sometimes. And it’s on Parker, of all people, to reel her back occasionally.

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This show confronts a lot of serious, dramatic story beats head-on — but it never loses that innate sense of fun and charm that’s so crucial to the original Leverage’s tone. What’s it like to balance those two elements?

Rorick: Well, that’s the tight rope walk of our show, isn’t it? We want you to have fun watching it, and then we also want to sneak some feeling in there at you. That is the DNA of the show that was mapped out so beautifully in the first 77 episodes of the original series that we got to explore and expand upon in these.

Devlin: Truth is, if you ripped out the humor from Leverage, it would be a ghastly dark show to watch. The subject matter is really rough. In the original show, a man dealing with the death of his son and wanting vengeance. In this one, this woman trying to cope with the death of the love of her life. I mean, there’s very heavy stuff in there. So, for us, we make a fun con and heist show, but I think what makes it resonant is that what’s lying underneath is quite often very true and very dark. Elliot is a murderer. The character of Elliot was he was a murderer for hire. There’s stuff there that if you remove the humor of it’s going to be like, “Oh my God, these are sociopaths.”

I think as Kate said, that is the tightrope. We always want this fun. We want to enjoy this, but at the same time, we don’t want to shy away from what’s underneath it. John Rogers always said — when he was writing the pilot of the original — that it was his moment to punch the guys from Enron in the neck. That’s really what our show is. It gives everybody a chance to punch the guys from Enron in the neck week after week.

A revival of the TNT original series, Leverage: Redemption returns with new episodes on IMDb TV on Oct. 8

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