TNT’s Leverage swings back into action tonight at 8/7c, in a new (yet not new) locale. Coming off the events of Season 4’s finale, Nate’s team bid Beantown adieu and set up shop in Portland – aka the city where the caper drama has filmed all these years. Also new: Hardison and Parker are “out” with their romance, so we thought it a good time to chat up Aldis Hodge about that fun dynamic. Plus: Why Leverage‘s master hacker wants to suit up as a certain Marvel hero.
TVLINE | Season 4 is here, and y’all have moved. Was there both an off- and on-screen reason for it?
We’ve been in Portland shooting for the last four years, because it makes more sense financially for the production. Also, for the scenery, moving the team to Portland works better because now we can use local businesses, we can actually exploit this beautiful town for all it’s worth. We had to hide so much of it when pretending it was Boston. As far as the storyline, [series co-creators] John Rodgers and Chris Downey worked it out nicely – and it has a really good payoff in the season finale, regarding why we’re really in Portland.
TVLINE | But for the short term, the reason is because they’ve “burned” Boston?
It’s definitely burned. It would make sense for a team making that much noise to have to leave some time or another.
TVLINE | One thing you and I have always talked about and danced around for a couple season now is the Hardison/Parker relationship – and now they’re officially dating. How has it been living up to any expectations?
Their relationship is one that’s very unique – we’re not a common couple — so we don’t do regular things, our vacations together are not normal…. But for them it is regular.
TVLINE | Yes, in the season premiere we get a montage of their vacations, and there is a lot of rappelling.
[Laughs] Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
TVLINE | Does this reveal allow you and Beth Riesgraf to show new sides of your characters?
We’re able to take the characters to new places, have them answer some questions that have been going around for years, and now they can be more comfortable, intimately. And for Beth and I, we get to figure out new places to go with our own performances with one another. For example, instead of saying, “Hey, Parker” or “Hey, Hardison,” we can say, “Hey, baby” – but we’re trying to figure out, What would these two actually call each other as pet names? [Laughs] Figuring out things like that is always fun.
TVLINE | The synopsis for one of this season’s episodes, “The D.B. Cooper Job,” suggests a 1970s theme.
A li’l bit. A li’l bit. We get to go back in time. That was penned by Chris Downey , who also did the Danny Glover [World War II flashback] episode, so I think he’s found his niche. This time, we get to see Christian [Kane, as Eliot] do his thing back in the ’70s, but you get to have fun with everybody being dressed up in that funky era.
TVLINE | Wait, are we going to see you in elevator shoes, bell-bottoms and a ‘fro?
I don’t know about elevator shoes, but you may get an afro and some chaps.
TVLINE | Speaking of slipping into other roles: I know you’ve expressed interest in the rumored upcoming Marvel/Black Panther movie. Why would it mean so much to you to play that character?
To me, it would be amazing for Marvel to put that out there, because think about how many superhero movies we have but how many of [the heroes], from a cultural standpoint, are black? How many African-American kids, or Latin kids, any kids of any other culture or ethnic group, can look at somebody up there and say, “Wow, I could be that.” We don’t have that very often at all.
TVLINE | Right, there has been, what, Blade?
Blade. Spawn. But those were years ago. In the comic book world there are a few African-American characters, they just need to explore them. Marvel would be a champ for being the first one to pioneer that for this generation. I also think of all the kids in Africa, in South America, in Europe, who could say, “That can be me.” But also, it would just be plain cool, man! I grew up in a Marvel universe, and Black Panther was my connection to make me feel like I could be a superhero. And [this summer's blockbuster] The Avengers falls right into it because The Ultimate Avengers 2 [comic book series] is how Black Panther gets introduced, so it would flow naturally. It’d be a smart time to do it.
TVLINE | Plus you’ve got some skills to bring to the table.
Oh yeah, I’ve been doing martial arts since I was six. It’s my thing, it’s my sport. And I’ve just recently gotten into parkour. I do that stuff because it’s what I love, but if I could being it to the screen, it’d be an amazing opportunity.