Timothy Hutton Evens the Score with Leverage

The Oscar-winning actor talks about his popular TNT series, the upcoming second season and more

Timothy Hutton is an actor who's career shouldn't need any introduction. After becoming the youngest actor to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar at age 20 for Ordinary People, Hutton never stopped working, launching a career full of diverse roles in film and television. Now the actor gets to portray many diverse characters in one series, playing Nathan Ford - who has to assume several identities to pull off these white-collar scams against the rich - in the wonderful TNT series Leverage, which comes back for a second season on Wedesnday, July 15 at 9 PM ET, and you can also catch Leverage: The 1st Season in a four-disc DVD set on July 14 (check back for my full review of the first season DVD set by tomorrow). I had the privilege of speaking with Hutton over the phone about his role in this highly-entertaining series and here's what he had to say.

So first of all, I was curious how you came across (creators) John (Rogers) and Chris (Downey)'s script and how you first became involved?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah. It was the usual. My agent sent me the script and I read it and thought it was really good. I asked a bunch of questions when I got on the phone with them and we talked it through and it just sounded like a good situation. There were a lot of possibilities with the character. I mean, you read this things and the character is already boxed into a hole with not a lot of dimension, and I thought there were endless possibilities for this guy. You meet him and he's at the end of his rope. He's got nothing left, no job, no wife, no kid, terrible tragedy, and the possibilities are endless. You can really have a dark existence and sometimes be light, he can have an incredibly light existence and sometimes be dark. He can be really wonderful to be around and sometimes really terrible to be around, he can want to have a better life and sometimes not want to have a better life. The most interesting thing to me was transferring his self-destructive nature or tendencies into destructive tendencies towards bad guys, really messing with them.

One of the coolest things I think about the show is you're literally playing a different character every week. It depends on who your mark is, what kind of game you're running, but you're really playing someone else every week, almost.

Timothy Hutton: Absolutely.

So did you guys work with dialect coaches for all these different accents you guys have to pull off?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah, we have a dialect coach that's always with us and working with us at different times. Sometimes we just go for odd accents and one of the wonderful things about this is that you don't have to be precise. As long as you're running a con and you're believable to some scumbag, you can get away with running the con right over him with some wacky accent.

I really love the supporting cast too with Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Gina Bellman and Aldis Hodge. What was it like just getting to work with these guys every week?

Timothy Hutton: Oh, it's great. They're so terrific to work with, they're great people and they have a lot of fun. We genuinely like each other and we spend a lot of time together off the set, so it's really really a great group and one of the things that has made the show so successful is the obvious chemistry we have. We really have fun doing the show and you can see it in the scenes.

It was kind of hard for me to narrow down a favorite con or scam that you ran from the first season, but do you have one?

Timothy Hutton: Oh, I don't know. I liked all of them, I really did. There were some really fun ones. I liked the last one, involving the David's. I just thought that was a complex show with the introduction of Nate's ex-wife. I liked the one involving the race horse, switching the race horses out, the bank-shot one, where we're doing a job in there actually as the bank gets robbed.

There's pretty much a new twist ending every week on the show, so what has it been like working with Chris and John? It has to be pretty exciting to read these scripts every week.

Timothy Hutton: Oh yeah. Every time we get a new script, we just kind of grab it and go off and it's amazing to get one of these things hot off the copy machine. It's always fun and we compare notes and talk about our favorite parts and it's like reading a cool little novel every time we get these scripts.

I really dug the ending too, the last episode, and it leaves it as a bit of a cliffhanger. So I'm curious about this second season, and will that pick up right from that moment in the airplane hangar?

Timothy Hutton: It does not pick up from the airport hangar, no. They've gone their separate ways. They've all gone on to other things, so the second season starts with one of the members of the five, cleverly organizing it so that all of them happen to be in the same city at the same time without any of them knowing. So the reunion is well-planned by one of the people on the team, and it's not me.

So are you still working on the second season right now, and what episode are you filming right now?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah, we're filming right now, number seven out of 15 for the second season.

Oh, you got a 15-episode order?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah.

I also loved the introduction of Kari Matchett, who played your ex-wife and also with Mark Shepherd as Jim Sterling that came along as well, so will we see those characters in the second season also?

Timothy Hutton: We have not seen the last of either character, that's for sure.

Excellent. So besides those two, you had some really great guest stars throughout the first season like Lauren Holly, Kevin Tighe and I read that Wil Wheaton is supposed to guest star this season, so are there any other guest stars that you can tell us about for the new season?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah, Wil Wheaton is doing a part and Griffin Dunne is doing a part. Beth Broderick is doing a part and we have a couple of other surprises along the way. They aren't confirmed yet, but yeah, it's going to be a good season.

Without giving too much away, you talked about how the second season will start up, but will this season differ in tone a bit? Will it be darker or will it still keep that light, edgy tone to it?

Timothy Hutton: It's going to be light and edgy at the same time. The show really found a good rhythm to it and we're going to pick up the same way. I think the one difference will be my character, the Nate character, won't be quite as dark with the drinking. The season starts out where he's not drinking anymore, he's maybe found some other vice or two, but it's going to be a fun season of the team really enjoying punishing the hell out of the bad guys, even more than the first year. If they took a sledge hammer to a piece of balsa wood last year, this year it's a wrecking ball to a piece of balsa wood. They just want to destroy anyone who's wronged someone else. Destroy them.

Wow. That sounds awesome. So, you have a number of feature films that will be coming out in the next few years, so is there anything that you can tell us about Roman Polanski's The Ghost, Serious Moonlight or Broken Hill?

Timothy Hutton: Yeah, there's a bunch of different movies that are coming out. Polanski's movie at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, the movie I did with Meg Ryan, Serious Moonlight and Broken Hill and there are a couple of others. I've got a movie out right now called Lymelife with Alec Baldwin.

So with this landscape of cable, it seems like it's really the place to be. It's really coming into its own and you have all this freedom in this environment. So do you think this show could even exist in a Big Four network?

Timothy Hutton: Oh, sure, I think it could. It just doesn't seem to be what they're doing right now. It's moving more and more into reality-based and that seems to be successful for them, but it's ideal right now for where it is. I can't imagine it anywhere else but TNT. It's just such a great place to be working.

So, finally, the second season starts up on July 15 and the first season DVD comes out right before that on the 14th, so what would you like to say to someone who might not have caught Leverage the first time around, to get them to pick up the DVD or to check out the second season?

Timothy Hutton: Oh, I'd say give it a chance. You won't regret it. You'll get great pleasure in watching us hustle the hustlers of the world.

Excellent. Well that's about all I have for you, Timothy. Thanks so much for your time, and I've the show and can't wait to see the next season.

Timothy Hutton: Thanks a lot.

You can watch Timothy Hutton and the rest of the amazing and conniving team of Leverage when the second season premieres on Wednesday, July 15 at 9 PM on TNT. For those who need to catch up on the first season (which if you haven't, I HIGHLY recommend), Leverage: The 1st Season hits the shelves on DVD on July 14.