Television series creators who make the most of sexual tension between characters always take a risk when they decide to bring their long-lusting couples together – which is just what happened at the end of Timothy Hutton's "Leverage" last season. Viewers got a surprise when it turned out that Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) was hidden under the covers of his character, Nate Ford's bed. But Hutton says their furtive romance has brought a whole different tension to the hit drama about an elite team of modern-day Robin Hoods that returns to the TNT lineup June 26.
"When last we left Sophie and Nate, they were in that hotel room in San Lorenzo. So when we start off this season, they have to figure out how to tell the team they're seeing each other, whether it's a good idea or bad idea to tell the team. They decide it's a bad idea. Then they have to wonder whether other members of the team know. And it's very sticky for Nate and Sophie, how to define the relationship, how it's going to interfere with the work. We're dealing with it in very kind of awkwardly funny moments."
That is not to say that "Leverage" has any less of its usual quotient of capers. For instance, Leon Rippy of "Saving Grace" and "Deadwood" "comes in and plays a very shadowy character who, it turns out, has been aware of the Leverage team's every move. The team doesn't know how to classify him. What is it he wants? There's a whole arc involving him," Hutton says.
As far as special episodes on the way, "There's a story about a human heart being carried through an airport that gets stolen by someone to be put on the black market for organs. The Leverage team has to come in and save the day so the proper recipient gets it. That episode is being done in real time because, obviously, there is only a finite amount of time that the organ is viable. It's the ultimate ticking clock."
This is the third year the "Leverage" company has worked in Oregon, and "I love it here," he volunteers. "I live here six months of the year. It really is quite a family up here."
Hutton's younger son, Milo, joins him whenever he has a break from his school in Paris, where he lives part-time with his mother (Hutton's former wife, illustrator Aurore Giscard d'Estaing).
As for whether he's likely to follow his dad into show business? "He's nine, so I just hope he gets interested in as many things as possible. He loves being on the set right now. He's also a big 'Harry Potter' fan, a big 'Indiana Jones' fan. He's into sports, too."
Elder son Noah, from Hutton's first marriage, to Debra Winger, "is already doing quite well in his own career as a documentary filmmaker," says Hutton. "He's a music-composer-editor-filmmaker-writer – very comfortable behind the camera. I don't think he'll be going out in front of it. I'm very proud of him."
TUNING UP FOR SUMMER: Sounds like country superstar Keith Urban has a bit of a taste for the retro. At least, that's the sense one gets from the selection of summer "Must-Haves" that the artist gave to Entertainment Weekly for its comprehensive summertime entertainment double issue, due on stands today (5/27). Urban, who heads out on the North American leg of his "Get Closer" tour June 16, insists he must have the following (but wait! No mention of Nicole Kidman and their girls?):
1) My boom box. "I have an old Sony ghetto blaster from the '80s that I got on eBay a long time ago. It's one of the huge ones with a cassette deck in it, and sometimes we'll set deck chairs under the bus awning and crank up a mixtape. I've got one that's got everything from Hank Williams to U2 to Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z to George Strait to old stuff from the '80s."
2) My motorcycles. "I have a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, a 100th-anniversary one that Kenny Chesney gave me, and I just bought a vintage motorcycle from the '60s called a Matchless. I love being able to get out and see a lot of places we're playing. I can get out and drive around the neighborhoods and then mention them during the gig that night, and it's great because people feel a little more connected, and I feel more connected too."
3) Sweet tea. "If a restaurant serves it, I'm a happy camper. I'll put in a plug for Milo's Famous Sweet Tea. I'm not associated with them! I just like that tea."
4) My banjo. "I have a six-string banjo that I've had since probably 1995 that I use on all my records. Banjo goes on everything – it's a bit like whipped cream, really. Well, I guess whipped cream shouldn't go on fried chicken. But it does seem to fit really well on anything that's got a groove. I mean, you can play it on 'Hey Ya!' by OutKast."
OK, but we're still trying to digest the fact he plays music on a cassette deck.
THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: It will be off to Melbourne, Australia for Ray Liotta in July, for filming of a comedic thriller feature called "Stealing Sam," about two hapless youths who become embroiled in a scheme to kidnap a famous athlete's girlfriend. However, she turns things around by convincing them that she's the daughter of a mafia don, and they'll soon be the targets of hit men – with many more twists along the way. Eamon Farren of "The Pacific" is also set for the film. Other casting is under way.
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