Leverage WWII plot connects generations

Saturday, Jul 16, 2011

Characters re-enact story of love, loss in Sunday’s episode

12:36 PM, Jul. 15, 2011  |
Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge star in this "Leverage" flashback.
Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge star in this “Leverage” flashback. / TNT
Written by: Mike Hughes


For “Leverage,” this was a chance to leap generations.

Sunday’s episode has a World War II veteran tell his story of love and loss. The young actors (Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf) then re-enact it, via flashbacks.

“We had a dynamic guest star, Danny Glover,” Hodge said. “With someone as great as that, you want to sit and hear him tell stories all day.”

Here was a four-time Emmy nominee, who turns 65 on July 22. Playing him in those flashbacks was Hodge, 25 and sort of a newcomer.

‘Not new at all’

Or not. “I’m not new at all,” Hodge said. “I don’t feel new, because I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

Really. By the time he was 10, Hodge had done TV (“Sesame Street”), movies (“Die Hard With a Vengeance”) and Broadway (the “Showboat” revival).

None of the jobs were imposing, partly because of blissful ignorance. “I didn’t know what Broadway was,” he said. “(“Sesame Street”) was just a place where you go to the set and play around.”

In racial terms, those jobs were opposites: “Showboat” has a plot reflecting long-ago bias; “Sesame” is a multi-hued world, where little red Elmo is played by Kevin Clash, a large black man. Hodge befriended Clash and met a show-business world where anything seems possible.

Family business

He was born in Camp Lejeune, the son of two Marines. The family soon moved to New York; his brother Edwin (one year older) also was in “Sesame,” “Showboat” and “Vengeance.”

There was more; Hodge remembers a concert at 10. “I thought, man, this is something I want to do.” He went on to master the clarinet and violin; he also designs watches, paints and writes.

The acting roles continued, some elaborate – he was “Voodoo” Tatum, the new quarterback on “Friday Night Lights” – and some not.

Hodge was going to a 21st-birthday dinner with his dad when he told him the news: That day, he’d landed a regular roles as Alec on “Leverage.”

This lets him work with top directors – including Frank Oz (Miss Piggy on “Sesame”) – while the regulars step in and out of scams. It also gives him a budding romance with Parker, played by Riesgraf.

That relationship has nudged along slowly – one of the problems with being in a band of scam artists. “These characters, at their core, are cynical and suspicious,” said “Leverage” producer Dean Devlin.

But for those flashbacks, Hodge and Riesgraf play two people in love while facing 1940s bias against inter-racial relationships. For large chunks of the hour, romance rules.

Source: Lansing State Journal

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