BETH RIESGRAF AND ALDIS HODGE
by: Lisa Steinberg
Q) You always look like you’re having so much fun. Is it as fun as it looks?
Aldis: It’s a real great time on the set. The thing that keeps getting tossed around on the set that seems remarkable the most is actually work with is the fact that we’ve been together for five years and we all still actually are civil and like each other. We have a really good rapport; we respect each other. I’m talking about from the top executive producers all of the way down to the crew because it takes everybody to make a machine work but it also takes good attitudes. And that’s something that’s kind of like established from our executive producers, Dean and John and Chris and then also with the cast ourselves. When we don’t have the executives on site and we’re on set and having to handle our business we also take that leadership role and all of us, especially Beth over there, she’s probably one of the most positive people I know. But we all try to make sure that everybody’s got a good attitude going on on the set because we all just want to do the right job and go home.
Q) There’s a really good outtake with Aldis and the Baby Joy rage. Is that going to be on the DVD?
Beth: Yes that’s awful; it’s going to be on the DVD. Yes, not good.
Q) Beth, you guys both do a lot of hanging from things and climbing things. Beth, do you like that? Is it something fun?
Beth: Yes, it is really fun. I mean I look at it like I could be stuck in an office or a courtroom for 15 hours a day on a show and I’m sure I’d make it fun but this is a lot more exciting and it really keeps it moving for me. So if I did have any fears of heights I guess before I started the show I don’t have them now which is kind of funny. But it does keep it interesting and I do like it. You know not to mention sometimes when you’re in a closed space filming for a long time your space sort of feels small and then when we get to go out on a roof and we have wires and all the camera guys everybody just kind of like livens up because it’s fresh air and it feels really good. So there’s a lot of reasons that I like being on that roof – or those roofs.
Q) Are you all sometimes have to pinch yourselves to think wow this is really gone on this long and we’re still having a great time doing it?
Beth: I’ll say yes, I definitely have to pinch myself. I mean part of it it’s strange because we relocate for half the year and then when we come back to our normal lives in a weird way it feels like we never left. But at the same time I miss being in that pacing. So it’s gone by very fast for me. But in hindsight I’m like, “Oh gosh, we’ve really been going for a long run here.” And we’ve built a big fan pace and more and more when we go out people are saying how much they love the show and the online fan base has just been incredibly supportive and it’s growing still. So it feels really good; it’s been a lot of fun.
Aldis: I actually was going to say something damn near the same in that because when we work we keep our heads down and we plow through it and it does go by very fast. But we’re still focused on getting the work done and doing it right. That just really there is very little time to reflect and enjoy all that we’ve accomplished. You know you’ve got to get through it and you come home and I don’t realize it necessarily until I talk to people and they’re like, “Well, like how long have you guys been going?” And I’m like, “Episode 50.” And they’re like, “Oh, my God; wow. Really?” And then that’s when I kind of reflected that we have really made strides here. But to get to the point it really truly is a blessing. Every season that we did to me is a milestone. It’s like just another proud moment – just another accomplishment to add in the book. Regardless of how far we go, this is what we’ve done and what we have accomplished. You can’t replace it ever. Nothing’s ever going to top this; you know this is amazing. I’m at a loss right now. However, I am not done – neither of us is done; we are ready to go for a sixth and a seventh and a eighth season.
Beth: Yes, I mean and I was going to add to that just to say like I think part of why it’s been so successful. People who have given the show a chance and taken the time to watch it they fall in love with the characters. I mean I think just as much as we have as artists we have so much fun playing them and I think that genuinely people like to have fun. They like being entertained and I think our show is really good at that.
Q) I was wondering if there was anything about your roles that you brought to it that wasn’t scripted?
Beth: Well gosh, that’s a hard question for me. I think we do so much improv on the show and we’re all such a well-oiled unit or machine at this time I feel like it’s been such a collaboration between the writers and us. I think they’ve seen things we can do well and they think of that when they’re writing a scene. And like for example I know Aldis and Christian can improv together and come up with such great material when left to their own devices. So like I think they sort of – they’ve learned and by observing like what we like to do and we have a lot of fun. And sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. But I think some of the quirks that makes it is like little acts sometimes thrown in there have definitely become part of the show as a staple now.
Aldis: The best part about the show is our producers and creators they pretty much gave us free range to implement much of our own personalities and our own ideas because we’ve got to live with them for so many years so definitely I think my humor came in a different way. My candor and my sense of sarcasm is what kind of throw a harness in that and if I made to think how that that it is she added complexity to Parker that that’s not necessarily intended or assumed from the beginning. Because she has so many moments where you get to see Parker in a real moment where she’s showing emotion and that just carries it out. She tears it up so expertly. I mean she has so many moving moments for Parker that I don’t think were necessarily thought of in the beginning. And I think that she continues to compound on Parker’s depth. And it all plays into the fact that we do have freedom to help build these characters how we see fit because of the fact that it’s collaboration. It’s a collaborative effort. The writers, the producers, and then also the actors to make these lasting characters and those substantial television figures.
Q) Hardison has such a brotherly rapport with Eliot; is that something that was originally written for you? I mean you guys seem to have such great chemistry and we sort of always catch you two fighting over food.
Aldis: Yes, no that was not originally written; the relationship between Eliot and Hardison kind of came out of the relationship between Christian and myself really. When we first met was on an elevator going up to the final audition for Leverage and we had an exchange there and talked and we kind of like, “Hey man I hope you get it,” yada-yada. And then the next time we saw each other was at the fitting forum and like, “Hey, this is the dude – my dude got it!” From there we allowed our relationship to grow with the characters and we made decisions like conscious effort that all right we want these characters to do – to find this kind of relationship because they’re always back and forth picking at each other. But we don’t want people to think that they dislike each other. They need to know that there’s respect there; there’s love there; and that these guys would die for each other if that was the case. But they still can have fun poking at each other while they’re at you know what I mean? It’s always been on the top of Christian and my list to make sure these characters – you always make sure that they are indebted to one another. That they have a real relationship.
Beth: I was just going to add something like I think it’s – I mean you can definitely create that with people who maybe you don’t get along with. I mean that’s why we’re actors. But at the same time like Christian and Aldis are both so charismatic and charming in real life that I feel like they’re people that already have that. Tim and Gina, too. I’ll just define you two for this second. But like you two naturally have that ability to just have fun and kind of poke fun without – you don’t have like an aggressive, mean natured spirit with these characters you know what I mean. Like we’re all really good at what we do and even though Christian fights and is like the ultimate weapon when it comes to friendship it’s like those two guys are really loyal and I think that comes across. I think it’s cool.
Q) You guys can see the playful banter between the two of you. And there’s also such great chemistry between you Beth and Aldis. Is there more noticeable romance between you all coming up?
Beth: Well it’s funny. I don’t know. We actually tried something that pushed the envelope and it didn’t make the final edit. I mean they took it out. I don’t know if the network was ready for it yet. It might have been a little too intense.
Aldis: I think the chemistry between Beth and I come naturally felt. It’s easy to make these characters like one another or be likeable in the same setting because Beth and I are friends. But like the first time we actually hung out in Chicago and done a pilot like we went shopping.
Beth: Yes, we did.
Aldis: That was fun. And it’s just the respect is there naturally off camera you know what I’m saying. That’s my buddy right there. Whenever I’m in in scene I feel safe with Beth because I know that she’s going to perform and I can try different things with my character because she’s just going to bring it right back. And that comfort and that security and faith in your fellow actor really helps a lot when it comes to performing or creating a scene. Because when you’re on set regardless of what the script says, regardless of what the director says, when it comes to action and the actors are doing their thing you’re still creating a scene. There’s so many nuances that come out that when it – so it takes – pardon my French – it takes a bad-ass actor to cool and compliment their fellow worker in order for them to do their job properly and help excel them and that’s what I have in Beth you know what I mean? And that’s what I have in Christian and my fellow actors on Leverage. You know these guys they’re topnotch. So that’s why it just looks easy because they’re working hard.
Q) I talked to Tim about a month or two ago and he was talking about what he really likes about working with all of you is that there’s a real sense of family now. That all of these years you all kind of become almost like brothers and sisters and related. Do you all sense that among yourselves?
Beth: Yes, definitely. I mean we all hang out after work and you know on the weekends we definitely call each other and around the holidays everybody has got their kids and inviting everybody over for dinner or barbecues. We’re our home away from our home you know and it’s a cool thing for me as sometimes those relationships sort of dissolve after a job ends and it’s sad. You know you miss those people. And with this show we’ve all – even when we go to our separate homes and back to our lives we all stay in touch and it doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to go away which is amazing. Like we are in this as friends and have become a family.
Aldis: Yes, that literally keeps us together on the show is just simply, you know, feeding those relationships that we’ve established, you know, five years ago.
Q) And does it help in your acting? Does it make you able to take chances knowing that you have people behind you that will be there to catch you if you fall proverbially?
Beth: Yes, totally.
Aldis: The last question that I was just answering I was saying just that because everybody is topnotch and on their game. I feel secure and safe with my fellow actors; safe enough that I can take chances. Because with show there’s still a lot of acting outside of the scene. Like what will be on top – sometimes after shooting a scene in a different place we’re not even there to see the performance. However, we know each other so well and we know each other’s skill set that we can perform with them not even being in the room understanding that I can say this here and I can do this here because I know my fellow cast mate well enough that they did this. They did their job. They came in like this. We can take our chances because everybody is on top of their game.
Beth: He answered it so well. I think that’s true and I was just going to say there’s days – there have been days where, you know, we have to go to work even if we’re fighting a flu or have fevers or, you know, whatever. And the fact of the matter is we all understand each other and if someone is having a tough day or a bad day, I mean we help each other out from somebody will be willing to rearrange their scene so the other one can get out earlier or if, you know, Gina needs to go be with her daughter or something there’s not one person that would not want to help out with that. There’s no selfish people in that way. Like we all I think even above the acting stuff, you know, we understand each other and we want to help each other out. So that does translate on screen and I think in the scenes like Aldis is saying we just know each other so well that it makes our job easy and it’s not like it’s always super easy but because it’s a crazy schedule. But like it makes it fun really is my point, yes.
Q) Well since there is such a gigantic fan base I have to ask what is the strangest fan encounter each of you have had? Or weird or just kind of just where you thought, “Oh my God, what was that all about?”
Aldis: I mean the strangest thing that happened was one time this lady saw me and just immediately started crying. She didn’t say anything; just started crying. I mean what do you do in that situation? I mean I was like okay this looks really bad. You know find a little lady, compose is like bad, go public, she’s crying, this looks bad. Get away; get away as fast as you can.
Beth: Yes, I know. You started to battle like do I hug them or run from them. No, I’m just kidding.
Aldis: What am I supposed to do?
Beth: Yes, it is a strange feeling to see that type of aspect happen – like created in somebody else. You’re kind of like, “Oh my God.” And I completely get it because I’ve loved things that much where I’ve wanted to cry and it’s just you are in their living room every week and they see us but we don’t see them. So it’s just I guess understanding that dynamic sometimes is interesting, yes.
Aldis: She stood there and cried for a bit and then thank God my mother was there and I was looking at my mom like what’s up. But eventually she began speaking and I was like okay I get it now. But it’s just weird because it’s common human interaction like I don’t understand, I don’t know you, you look at me and you’re crying; I’m thinking something is wrong and puts the whole thing in my plate. I’m not like, “Oh yes, she must be know me from the show. She must be sick.” Like none of that crosses my mind because I don’t think about that in my daily life; you know it’s my job. I go do my job and go home. But when I see a lady crying in the street I’m like what? But eventually, like I said we cleared things up and it was very sweet of her. She was very nice and my impression and my interaction like that is amazing because she’s had a relationship with you. You’re in their homes every single week sometimes every single day and the fact that someone can have that reaction that is major because what other job you really do on a daily basis where that occurs. Reaching someone like that and not even know it.
Beth: I always see the girls freaking out over Christian and Tim and Aldis. And when Christian’s band plays in Portland I would see girls coming up and asking him to sign their body with a sharpie. I had seen that in movies but I was like, “Oh my God; it actually happens.” And then some of the have the signature tattooed and, it’s just amazing. I mean they have so much love and admiration that it’s like they want that permanently on them. And I’ve always been like, “Oh, I get it.” But then somebody had something I said I think tattooed on them once and it was a little weird for a second because I was like, “Oh my God.” Like that’s amazing but you really – like I don’t know; you just see the impact you’ve had on someone’s life and ultimately John Rogers wrote the line, you know, but I said it and then that person was so touched or affected by it that they put it on their body for the rest of their lives. You know it’s a little intense.
Q) But during your hiatus do you all like to do other projects like film projects and stuff?
Aldis: Oh, yes.
Beth: I mean I definitely need some time to decompress because it’s pretty intense the moving back and forth and readjusting takes some time but yes, I do like it.
Q) Is anything coming up then besides the show for either one of you?
Aldis: Yes, I was just saying that I film coming out that I call the east that’s in postproduction right now. It should be out next year so, you know, hopefully I hope that things go well with that.
Source: Starry Mag