‘Leverage’ returns through ‘Leverage: Redemption’

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Executives with TV networks, cable channels and streaming services have been mining the past for new programs. That includes the likes of “MacGyver,” “Charmed,” “Walker” and “Gossip Girl.”

Most of the new shows stick closely to the original blueprints but the new series “Leverage: Redemption” – for the streaming service IMDb TV – has taken a slightly different approach. It maintains the basic theme of rob from the rich and give to the poor but the biggest change from the original series “Leverage” is that the original boss for the band of thieves, Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is gone. Grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) is now in charge.

“Leverage: Redemption” launches July 9.

Also returning from the original cable series that ran from 2008-2012 are thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), hitter Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane) and hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge). They have watched the world change over the last eight years and not in a better way. They decided to pick up their larcenous ways to help stop the rich from getting richer.

One good thing to come out of the nine year hiatus for the cast is that Riesgraf finally got to catch her breath. She plays Parker, a super thief, with an energy level 10 times that of a normal TV character. There’s been no slowing down Parker – an adrenaline junkie – with the passing of time.

Riesgraf compares playing Parker to the rigorous training an athlete would go through.

“I knew from the get go I had to keep myself physically active and mentally alert,” Riesgraf says. “I have to be open. I have to forget every rule that society tells you makes sense because she is in her own universe.

“The minute anyone tries to normalize Parker, it’s not going to go well.”

Riesgraf laughs and adds that it’s a lot of coffee and B vitamins that help her ramp up to play the energetic character.

The energy she started playing in the original series is needed again because she and her fellow partners in crime (always done for the bigger good) are again facing complicated and smart schemes. That includes everything from the stealing of valuable art to cleaning out an impenetrable safe.

Riesgraf never gave up hope that “Leverage” would return in some fashion because of the fan base that kept growing online.

“It was so comforting for me to see these stories resonating with people nearly 10 years later,” Riesgraf says. “People were getting hugely emotional over these moments and characters. They were loving this community.

“The fact that there is a great message behind this show and that people want to root for it because it makes them feel good about something, we knew that it was right for it to come back.”

Also returning the show is Kane in the role of Eliot Spencer who basically fills the role of the main muscle for the group. But, he has long thought that the team never really fully appreciated all that his character does for the team. But, he has always known Spencer was a perfect fit for the team.

“They are all broken toys. They are all loners,” Kane says. “When we all come back together for this series, you see that they have been a family. They have always been a family but they were still family during the off time.

“When they come back together, they are even stronger which is very good.”

Kane has always considered it a compliment that no one ever worried if his character was going to be OK. They just knew he would get the job done.

Noah Wyle joins the returning cast members. He plays Harry Wilson, a corporate lawyer looking for some redemption after years of being on the wrong side. Also new to the team is Aleyse Shannon who plays Breanna Casey, Hardison’s foster sister who has a knack for computers, robotics and getting into trouble.

Shannon watched all five seasons of “Leverage” before showing up for work. She had some misgivings after being the new member of the cast but found it easy to join the group.

“It’s daunting until you get on the set for the first day,” Shannon says. “Once you start talking to people, it all washed away. They are the nicest, most loving people. I got a whole family in the middle of the pandemic when I didn’t think I would get to see anyone but my mom.”

Along with acting in projects from “Leverage” to “The Librarians,” Kane has been equally busy as a singer and songwriter. He has found there is one big difference between bringing in an actor to join an established company and adding a musician to a band. A new musician has to learn everything the band has done before while an added actor brings a whole new element to the group.

“Leverage: Redemption” can be seen through IMDb TV, a free streaming video service with thousands of premium movies and TV shows available anytime. It is available as an app on Fire TV and a free Channel within the Prime Video and IMDb apps across hundreds of devices. 

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