Leverage is a U.S. television drama series on TNT that premiered in December, 2008. The series is produced by director/executive producer Dean Devlin's production company Electric Television. Leverage follows a five-person team of thieves, computer experts and con artists, headed up by former insurance investigator Nate Ford, who use their skills to right corporate and governmental injustices inflicted on common citizens
The first season of Leverage consisted of 13 episodes, which writers John Rogers and Chris Downey, and producer Dean Devlin intended to be a complete story, should the series not be renewed. Second season production moved from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon,and premiered on July 15, 2009. The second season will run in two parts: a nine-episode summer season followed by a further six episodes in the winter. No airdates for the winter half-season have been announced. On August 27, 2009, TNT announced Leverage had been renewed for a fifteen episode third season
Cast and characters
- Timothy Hutton as Nathan Ford, a former insurance fraud investigator for IYS Insurance and the team's mastermind. Raised in South Boston, Nate originally intended to become a priest, spending a short period in seminary prior to becoming an insurance investigator. While working for IYS, Nate's young son Sam became seriously ill with cancer; IYS refused to pay for the experimental treatment he needed, resulting in his death. The aftermath leads to Nate's drinking, his divorce from his wife Maggie, and his subsequent dismissal from the company. A skilled planner, Nate draws on his experience as an insurance investigator to anticipate the moves of his team's marks. Initially operating behind the scenes, he soon becomes an active member of the team's cons, drawing the attention of his old rival, James Sterling. Throughout the first season, his drinking remains problematic, even after he goes through detox during a con in a rehab center. By the start of the second season, he has apparently given up alcohol for good in favor of coffee, though he seems to keep eyeing any alcoholic drink near him.
- Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, a British actress and accomplished grifter with a taste for art theft. In one of the show's running jokes, Sophie is seen to be a talentless actress, but as a grifter, she reveals her true talent as she effortlessly plays a series of roles ranging from a businesswoman to an art expert designed to draw the team's target into the con. Particularly adept at the use of accents, Sophie is seen to portray a German athlete, a Southern horse broker and a reporter from New Zealand. Sophie also has a collection of aliases, but has never revealed her real name, even to members of the team. Sophie has a long history with Nate, dating back at least ten years to when he pursued her as an art thief. At some point, they recognized they are attracted to one another, but have never acted on it, leaving Sophie alternately frustrated, angry and disappointed. Nate's drinking is also a source of conflict between them throughout the first season. After the team disbands, Sophie is instrumental in bringing them all to Boston, leading to their reforming. As the second season opens, Sophie has a new off-camera boyfriend with whom she soon breaks, leading her to question whether she's lost herself in the names she's used and the characters she's played
- Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer, a highly skilled martial artist, weapons expert and retrieval expert. His role in cons is often to play small roles while protecting the team, often leading him into hand-to-hand combat that draws on his martial arts skills. Eliot has a long and somewhat shady history as a soldier-of-fortune, and has seen violence much of his life. He is proficient with guns, despite his distaste for them, as well as knives and a variety of other small weapons. A man of many talents, he also has skill as a chef, grows his own food and requires only 90 minutes of sleep a day. Eliot appears to be adept with women, but tends to keep his romantic life private, as he does much of his background. He has little patience with the antics of his team-mates Parker and Hardison, but has grown into a big-brother figure for both of them. He is also very protective of the group, jumping in to fight anyone that attacks them, even saving Hardison after stating he wouldn't if he got in trouble. In addition, his stated reason for staying with the team was to keep Ford from falling back into his bad habits.
- Beth Riesgraf as Parker, an expert thief, cat-burglar, pickpocket and safe-cracker. Known only by her last name, Parker is a risk-taker who loves money above anything. The product of an abusive childhood spent in more than one foster home, Parker has a decided lack of people skills. She is awkward or will say inappropriate things in most social settings, although Sophie attempts to help her develop these skills, with mixed success, as the series progresses. Parker has the ability to disappear and reappear in a room without anyone noticing until she reveals herself, often unnerving the other team members. Parker also has a peculiar, but seemingly non-sexual fascination with touching other women.
- Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, a computer/Internet specialist and hacker. He is a self-proclaimed geek and science fiction fan, with a dry, unusual wit and a catch-phrase for every situation. Like Parker, he was raised by a foster parent, an older woman he refers to as "his nana". Hardison can hack into most—if not all—forms of electronics and rarely is caught. He designed the electronic system in the original Leverage Consulting and Associates headquarters in Los Angeles with state of the art hardware; in the second season, he buys the building Nate's condo is in and redesigns it as their new headquarters. Hardison and Parker have shared several moments of sexual tension and attraction, but while his feelings towards her are relatively clear, Parker's odd nature makes it difficult to tell if she reciprocates or is even aware of his feelings.
- Mark A. Sheppard as James Sterling, Nate's rival in the insurance business. Always second-best to Nate and with no love lost, Sterling learns of Nate's new life and begins to follow him, thinking that Nate wants his job at IYS back. Nate soon realizes Sterling is on his trail, but foils his efforts to dismantle the team's first con. Sterling warns Nate they'll meet again and renews their rivalry when Nate and the team attempt to bring down Nate's former boss, Ian Blackpoole. At first, Sterling seems to have defeated Nate and scattered the team, but they soon regroup, and this time, it's Sterling who's defeated.
- Jeri Ryan as Tara Cole, a self-assured grifter Sophie sends to help the team. Initially, she appears to be a naïve lawyer the team must work with, but reveals her real identity at the end of their first con. Although suspicious, the team reluctantly accepts her, but are surprised to discover she is a con for profit. Ryan will appear for the remainder of the second season, temporarily replacing Gina Bellman, who is on maternity leave.
- Kari Matchett as Maggie Collins, Nate's ex-wife. Although no longer in love with him, Maggie still cares for Nate, but cannot live with his drinking, which led her to divorce him. Maggie is an art expert who re-enters Nate's life when he attempts to steal a maquette of the David from Ian Blackpoole. She is unaware of IYS's role in her son's death, but learns the whole story as she's drawn into Nate's con, allowing them to come to terms with his death and begin to rebuild their relationship. She demonstrates a flair for Nate's new work, and ends up helping the team complete their con, and Nate to gain his revenge.
- Rick Overton and Gerald Downey as FBI Special Agents Taggert and McSweeten, who have (unwittingly) worked with Leverage Consulting & Associates on at least three occasions. Credited with catching the bad guys the team cons, they have earned a more prestigious assignment in Boston as a result.
- Robert Blanche as Lt. Patrick Bonanno. A Massachusetts State Police detective who arrests the culprits in two of the team's cons. Like Taggart and McSweeten, he does not realize he plays a role in the con.