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Aldis Hodge Interview by Lena Lamoray

LEVERAGE
Aldis Hodge Interview, Alec Hardison
LEVERAGE Sundays at 9 PM EST, Season 4 Premieres June 26 on TNT
June 14, 2011
By Lena Lamoray

LEVERAGE Press Release:  The fourth season of Leverage opens in epic fashion as the team heads to the rugged mountains of Alaska to help a woman whose husband has disappeared, possibly as a victim of foul play. More than any previous job, this one will push the Leverage team to the edge of endurance in one of the world’s harshest terrains, where a single wrong step could send them plunging into an almost certain death. The Leverage crew is led by former insurance investigator turned thief, Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton). His cohorts include Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), a brilliant grifter; Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), a retrieval specialist; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), a gadget and technology wizard; and Parker (Beth Riesgraf), a slightly off-center thief adept at rappelling off buildings. Prior to the Alaska job, the team was laying low after finally fulfilling their obligation to a mysterious Italian agent who blackmailed Nate into hunting down a nefarious financier. The ordeal seems to have opened up a new side of Nate, who is more determined than ever to focus on bringing down bad guys. He is also reluctant to deal with the uncomfortable dynamic between him and Sophie after the two wound up in bed together. This season on Leverage, the team will face bigger challenges than ever before. They will be forced to face the moral ambiguity of what they do as Nate continues to struggle with his inner demons. Among their upcoming jobs, they will target a public relations expert (guest star Michael Gladis) who protects his clients by destroying the lives of anyone who gets in their way; a millionaire who pays to have himself moved up on a heart-transplant waiting list; a woman who profits from people’s grief through a funeral scam; a big corporation out to bury potato farmers; and a group trying to kill a World War II veteran (guest star Danny Glover) who allegedly has a very rare Van Gogh painting. In addition, the team will once again face their nemesis, insurance-investigator-turned-InterPOL-agent Jim Sterling (guest star Mark Sheppard). They will also discover that someone has been spying on their activities, although the nature of the culprit’s agenda is a mystery.

I spoke with ALDIS HODGE about LEVERAGE, which celebrates its fourth Season Premiere on Sunday, June 26th on TNT.  Aldis plays my favorite character and hacker, Alec Hardison and I happen to agree with him that it is the “Age of the Geek”.  It is always a pleasure speaking with Aldis.  He is a gifted actor and an incredible person.  A few of my favorite shows and films that he has starred in are:  “Supernatural”, “The Chicago Code”, “Becker”, “Die Hard: With a Vengeance”, “Cold Case”, and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”.  Don’t miss the Season 4 Premiere of LEVERAGE, June 26th at 9 PM EST only on TNT.

Lena Lamoray:  I love how in the premiere episode Hardison is reminded of all his climbing failures. Can you share any funny stories with regard to that?

Aldis Hodge:  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 they’ve 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 don’t 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 we’re all good.

More Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q:  You play the violin and you did that in one of your episodes. Was that actually you playing during that?

Aldis Hodge:  Oh yeah. She has a lot of jazz.  While we filmed it, I actually played to a track. It’s 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. It’s a beautiful song though.

Q:  Any other opportunities coming up to hear your music in future episodes?

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

Q:  You got started pretty young; about 11 – 12 years old between Brothers and NYPD Blue. How did your talents get discovered and how did you pursue them to greater things?

Aldis Hodge:  Let’s 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 he’s – my brother, Edwin Hodge, he’s 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 don’t 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 wasn’t given to us.

Q:  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 mother’s a sweet lady. She’s one of the sweetest ladies I know. She’s the best lady I know. So yeah. She was very much a discipline enforcer though and all about the education.  I’m not mad at it because it’s gotten me where I am today so.

Q:  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 don’t really see much between the two of them specifically until the end I guess when it’s a thank God you’re 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 they’re growing. They definitely grow emotionally. They – their bond of friendship grows and gets a lot stronger this season.  Now as far as romantically, it’s still something that they’re figuring out and trying to test the waters. They don’t know if they should or shouldn’t. You know, it can ruin a lot.  You know, it’s 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. That’s all I can say.

Q:  Nate’s drinking, how is that going to affect, if 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, we’ll see how it plays out. I can’t 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 Hardison’s character, specifically, you know, I think he understands who Nate is and who Nate has been for the past few years.  So he’s, you know, just – he’s always just about look, you do what you want to do as long as we get the job done.

Q:  The season opener obviously started with the Big Bang. I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit about what’s 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. He’s narrating his story and the characters go back in time and we met. We are seen as the character that he’s 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. It’s like acting royalty right there.  So I was really honored to have that experience and that opportunity but as far as like where – what’s going on with Hardison for this season. I think he’s been forced more than, you know, more than a couple of times to challenge his romantic feelings for Parker and that’s something he’s trying to figure out. I think that, out of all things, is his biggest adversary.  So and not necessarily in a negative way; it’s just something that he’s trying to figure out, you know, whether he should or shouldn’t. So he’s going to keep testing those waters. But as far as him personally, I think he’s gotten himself together and he’s back on track. You know, he’s back doing the same thing. He (doing it) and he’s doing it well.

Q:  In the Danny Glover homage episode, do you get to do any stunts or any fight scenes.

Aldis Hodge:  I can’t tell you that.  There’s a lot of running. I can tell you that.

Q:  You’ve had four years on the show. Is there anything major that changed for you that you can think of like are you recognized more or what’s the biggest change?

Aldis Hodge:  The response has definitely been amazing. We’ve been fortunate enough to have very loyal fans. There’s a woman who goes by the moniker (Alley Cat Who) who’s built a fan site for me. I believe it’s Aldis-Hodge.com. And she’s 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.  And to have somebody do that for me is truly mind-blowing. I still don’t really even understand it. It’s great. But she’s done that and it’s 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 that’s what this is really all about.  I just want to make sure that I’m doing the right job and that people appreciate the effort that I’m putting in and it shows.  So that kind of an experience I can’t really – it’s very hard to duplicate. It’s very hard to explain but to have that in my life right now is really amazing and I’m truly blessed.

Q:  You currently have 43 point – 19% of the vote on entertainment weekly to play Jackie Robinson. What if you were to get the part to play Mr. Robinson.  What about Mr. Robinson obviously besides his 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 that’s truly just the fan coming out and I didn’t realize that that’s where it was but that’s pretty amazing so I really…That’s awesome. That is freaking awesome. I’ve got to check that out.  Well it’s 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 don’t 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. You’re 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, he’s you know like, you know, MLK or Malcolm X to politics. You know what I’m saying?  He pioneered the change and he actually succeeded in doing that. And it was a change for people, not simply just himself. It’s not something that affected him solely. It wasn’t 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, he’s – that’s the guy.  That’s awesome. Look, tell them I’m in training. I have a softball game tomorrow and it’s just…

Q:  Do you have any favorite techie thing that he’s done or he’s going to be doing at any point this season that really stood out to you?

Aldis Hodge:  Let’s see. Let me see, let me see, let me see, let me see. I think – I’m not certain about this season just yet. I know last season I really had fun with the EMP gun. That was pretty cool.  But this season – I mean we still have so much more to go. We’ve got eight more episodes so I think I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Q:  Does anyone think that you’re 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?

Aldis Hodge:  Yeah. No some think that all the time and I disappoint people all the time and I’m like look guys. I read lines. I’m an actor. I – my job is to pretend professionally.  So you’ve got to realize that. But yeah. No, people think that I’m some kind of wiz and you know just I’m not. But you know I’ve learned a little bit along the way. It’s still not enough to be anywhere near the – in competition with my character but I’m getting by.

Q:  How many times did you rehearse the State Farm jingle before you did the commercial?

Aldis Hodge:  Oh Lord. I don’t rehearsals, I just shoot.

Lena Lamoray

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