Leverage Returns: Transcript of Conference Call with Aldis Hodge

Categories: Watching TV

Written By

June 21st, 2010

A day late, but Leverage returned last night for its third season premiere.  Because of the way the Nielsen abacuses work with weekend data, unless Turner issues a press release or press notes about the premiere, we might not see the results until Tuesday morning.   TNT aired two episodes ran last night, and will air two episodes next Sunday too.  Leverage will take off July 4th and return on July 11th with single episodes through August 15.

While waiting for the premieres ratings, Leverage fans (and others) are welcome to read the transcript of a conference call last week with Aldis Hodge who plays the wizard  tech hacker Alec Hardison.  I didn't participate on the call and was disappointed nobody asked him, "what was it like to do a Taco Bell commercial?"  Probably best that I didn't participate...

Operator:  Good day and welcome to the Aldis Hodge conference call. Today’s conference is being recorded.

And at this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Ms. Kristina Stafford. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Kristina Stafford:  Good afternoon and thank you all for your patience and thank you for joining the Aldis Hodge Leverage conference call.

The new season premieres on Sunday, June 20 at 9:00, 8:00 Central on TNT. The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator:  Also, ladies and gentlemen, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment.  We ask that you please limit yourself to one first question. We ask that after that you can re-queue. Again star 1 please.

We'll go first to April MacIntyre with Monsters & Critics.

April McIntyre:  Hey Aldis, thanks so much for your time.

Aldis Hodge:  Hey good morning, sorry for being late.

April McIntyre:  Well, you know, you probably have like some computer things to solve and all kinds of high tech deals going on there.

Aldis Hodge:  Oh no just so sick right now, sick. A little bit sick right now so I was kind of knocked out.

April McIntyre:  So my question obviously season 2, we’re so excited the DVD is being released. And this was an interesting season. You guys kind of gel. We got more of your back stories. You were more cohesive as a team and you've introduced new cast members and that’s my question for you is season 2, the new, some of the new cast members that have joined. And I wanted to know if we would be seeing more of Rick Overton and obviously Jeri Ryan?

Aldis Hodge:  Well as far as Jeri goes, we’re not certain. I mean she was great while she was here but she’s actually on a new series right now so her schedule doesn't necessarily work out so well with us...

April McIntyre:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  ...because she’s working and which is I mean great for her, big (ups) to her and we’re very proud of her. We loved Jeri while she was here.

So we’re not sure but we would love to have her back, you know, if we could get it.

As far as, you know, Rick Overton and of course his partner Gerald Downey, Taggert-McSweeten, the audience loves Taggert-McSweeten and we’re going to give the audience what they love. So there’s a possibility you might see a little bit of Taggert-McSweeten.

April McIntyre:  Very cool Very cool. My follow-up question for you is what was your favorite episode in season 2?

Aldis Hodge:  My favorite episode had to have been the Ice Man job and then also the Three Days of Monica Hunter job.

April McIntyre:  Interesting.

Aldis Hodge:  Yes they they’re the most fun to do because I got to play different types of characters and do the whole, you know, thing with the Three Days of Monica Hunter I got to play crazy person. So I really got to just explore and enjoy my imagination.

April McIntyre:  Very cool.

Aldis Hodge:  And that’s what - that was the most fun of it all because I got to push it to the limits the first new episode.

April McIntyre:  Great. I'll come back. Thank you.

Aldis Hodge:  Okay. Awesome. Thank you very much.

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Eunice Moseley with the Baltimore Times.

Eunice Moseley:  Hi there. How are you?

Aldis Hodge:  I'm doing fine thank you. Yourself?

Eunice Moseley:  I hope you get better. I'm blessed to have a quick minute with you. I enjoy your acting work, all of your projects.  I'm just wondering with your love for watches does that help you in your role because Alec is a gadget technological wizard.

Aldis Hodge:  Oh it does help me to understand how someone could be so into his craft.

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  Yes watches, you know, it’s all gears and everything. But I have to know a little something about computers, have to be a little savvy.

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  But it does help me to understand how somebody could be so into I mean I want to say it’s a dorky thing but, you know, some people would call me a geek, my watch - my gears and things like that. So we have that mutual understanding Alec and I.

Eunice Moseley:  Yes. And I hope to get one of your watches one day soon.

Aldis Hodge:  I hope for them to be in the market someday soon.

Eunice Moseley:  That’s right, so remember Eunice, Baltimore Times, around Christmas.

Aldis Hodge:  Eunice, Baltimore Times, it’s a gift. Yes, okay I got you.

Eunice Moseley:  Thank you.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you.

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Richard Brown with Mediaoutrage.com.

Richard Brown:  How are you doing, Aldis? Thank you for your time.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you brother. Thanks for being patient.

Richard Brown:  No problem, no problem. My question is how similar is the personality of the character you portray, you know, Alec Partisan from your own? How similar are you guys in real life?

Aldis Hodge:  Well I - I'd say we’re pretty similar. I add a lot of my own personality to the character as far as his humor, as far as how he plays in jokes. So I would say we definitely have a kinship there. We’re definitely very, very close.

Richard Brown:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  And our lightheartedness as far as our way of thinking, you know, I'm not a thief but I would say that he has a good heart that I try to model after what I would like to be. So yes we’re pretty close.

Richard Brown:  Okay, okay.

Aldis Hodge:  The only thing that he does different that I don't do is probably the hacking and stealing thing.

Richard Brown:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  But I'm definitely a loudmouth that talks all the time.

Richard Brown:  Okay, a quick follow up. How much are you guys or how much are you allowed to improvise in the show from the script?

Aldis Hodge:  Allowed is a very, very casual term. No we - our writers trust us enough to take these characters where we feel they need to go.

We respect what’s written. We honor the idea and we respect the theory of the idea. And when it comes to improv we just, we usually improv what we feel is best for the situation or what’s most respectful and relevant to the character and the situation at the time.

So ((inaudible)) sort of thing, I have a rule. I say give them one straight and give them hell which means, you know, as long as we've got an original take, a good clean original take on there which is what’s written then I'm good.

And after that I play with the scene and we see how I can dress it up, make it colorful and I guess throw a little something, something on there, you know, to flush out the potential of the scene and the characters in it.

Richard Brown:  Okay. Thank you very much.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you very much.

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Joe Hummel with popculturemadness.com.

Joe Hummel:  Hi Aldis. Thanks for talking to us today.

Aldis Hodge:  What’s happening man?

Joe Hummel:  Oh nothing much. It’s been one of those days. I wanted to ask about the character of Alec Hardison. He’s obviously a bit of a computer geek but he’s got a certain coolness. How did you avoid, you know, being a nerd on the show?

Aldis Hodge:  Because I'm a nerd in real life and I like think that I'm sort of cool. It’s a lot of, especially when it comes to TV there’s a lot of assumption that goes with playing a specific character.

When your hear computers or geek or whatever you just automatically think pocket protector, glasses, not very social, always kind of clumsy. You think that kind of a - that kind of model.

When it came to the pilot and when it came down to me and Dean Devlin, and John Rogers trying figure this character out, you know, we kind of wanted to throw a different spin on it because nowadays I mean computer nerds, we’re coming off kind of the shape of society but we’re not just one thing.

And I don't want the audience to get what they’re already used to having and wanted to give them something different and something fresh.

And it’s funny people say there’s a cool vibe there. I'm like I feel like I'm kind of dorky and corny sometimes but that’s just me. But if you all think it’s cool hey I'm thinking I'm going to keep giving it to you.

Joe Hummel:  Okay well yes...

Aldis Hodge:  ((Inaudible)) you know?

Joe Hummel:  Yes, well you give nerds a little of a I’ll tell you, a little higher notch up on the social ladder having your character on there.

Aldis Hodge:  Hey man nerds rule the world.

Joe Hummel:  Thank you.

Aldis Hodge:  Like this, you know, there’s a lot of sports players, the nerds are the ones who own the teams.

Joe Hummel:  Yes.

Operator:  And we'll take our next question from Joseph Dilworth with popculturezoo.com.

Joseph Dilworth:  Hey Aldis how are you doing today?

Aldis Hodge:  What’s happening man? I'm doing good. You?

Joseph Dilworth:  Oh, doing great. Thank you for taking the time to talk to all of us today.

Aldis Hodge:  Oh thank you for being patient. I apologize for being tardy.

Joseph Dilworth:  Oh not at all. As someone who lives in the Portland, Oregon area I was just kind of curious as to how it’s been shooting in Portland and how us locals have treated you so far?

Aldis Hodge:  So far it’s been amazing. And the locals are definitely very inviting, very nice and they treat us like we’re locals. And the town, it’s been great - very nice town.

It’s very artistic and musically inclined which I love, very simple town. You know, people enjoy the simple pleasures in life here so you can just go take a nice walk down the street. They’re always celebrating something like right now they got the little festival going...

Joseph Dilworth:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  ...down on the waterfront. You know, they got the big what is it, the merry-go-round and they get the whole shindig up like a little carnival.

Joseph Dilworth:  Oh yeah.

Aldis Hodge:  And it’s amazing and it’s nice being here. It’s a nice reprieve away from LA. LA is very, very busy all the time. And so I enjoy that.

I enjoy the hustle and bustle. It’s good to get away from it every now and then and relax a little bit to the simpler things in life.

Joseph Dilworth:  Cool. Okay. Well thank you and I'll try to talk to you again in a second.

Aldis Hodge:  Well thank you too.

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Jocelyn Kujala with icudk.com.

Jocelyn Kujala:  Hey Aldis; how are you today?

Aldis Hodge:  Hey, I'm doing fine. Yourself?

Jocelyn Kujala:  Not too bad, not too bad. Well I'm another Portland blogger. I’m here in Portland. And I kind of wanted to ask you, I know you’re an artist as well as an actor. And I was wondering if you’ve had the chance to kind of check out some of the arts here in Portland?

Aldis Hodge:  I have. I have. I've been to just about every art gallery here at downtown.

Jocelyn Kujala:  Great, great. You’re a painter, correct?

Aldis Hodge:  I am. I’m a painter. I've had a little bit of time to paint. I finished one painting since I've been here. It took me about two months to finish. And I'm trying to...

Jocelyn Kujala:  Oh great.

Aldis Hodge:  ...work on it but I just haven’t had the time to be diligent like I would prefer. I love...

Jocelyn Kujala:  Awesome.

Aldis Hodge:  ...some time and just walking around checking out the (pics) because I get inspired myself. I get to see what everybody else has going on, and it’s nice to see what everybody’s perception of creativity is visually, you know?

And then...

Jocelyn Kujala:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  ...of course the first Thursdays here which is the little art wall here every first Thursday of every month you go downtown, people display their art at the (rec).

Jocelyn Kujala:  Right. That’s actually what I was going to ask you, if you'd had a chance to check out First Thursday?

Aldis Hodge:  Oh yes and if I’m...

Jocelyn Kujala:  Well awesome, great.

Aldis Hodge:  ...time to go I go.

Jocelyn Kujala:  Pardon?

Aldis Hodge:  I said every Thursday that I'm off in time to go, I go.

Jocelyn Kujala:  Awesome, that’s great. Well thank you for taking my question and I'll talk to you again soon.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you very much.

Operator:  And again, ladies and gentlemen, it’s star 1 on your Touch-tone telephone if you'd like to ask a question.

We'll go next to James Hicks with infotainmentnews.net.

James Hicks:  Aldis how are you doing today man?

Aldis Hodge:  What’s happening? I'm doing good. Yourself?

James Hicks:  Oh man just hanging in there, hanging in there. Hey man I was checking out the show the other night and, you know, I'm trying to sit here and figure out a way to really to describe Leverage to folks who haven't seen it.

First thing, congratulations on three seasons right? That’s a huge accomplishment...

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you.

James Hicks:  ...in of itself. So just wondering, you know, thinking about this show it’s I almost liken it to like Robin Hood or something going out and taking from the rich right, and giving to the poor or something. What’s your quick definition of what this show was really all about?

Aldis Hodge:  We - my quick definition is, you know, a group of criminals who take down corporate bad guys in order to give back to those that they take advantage of.

Now it may take a little figuring out but usually people end up saying Robin Hood. They usually say Robin Hood on the very first shot.  But yes, you know, we are a lot of people said that of, you know, Oceans 11 with Robin Hood in there, a little A Team in there.

James Hicks:  Okay yes.

Aldis Hodge:  And the best I - think the best part about the fact - one of the reasons why it may be difficult to describe exactly what we are is because not that our show is hard to understand because it’s not, but I think it’s because our show is on (entity) which is nice.

And in years past, you know, 20 years, you know, ten years past our plan when we’re all done and said and done I believe somebody’s going to look back and say yes that show, that new show out, it’s like that show Leverage, you know, so...

James Hicks:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  So I believe were setting that up a little bit. We have our own identity going, which is a blessing. And, you know, it gets easier to explain this show year by year.  But I was definitely - I think we have our own model going. But I just say it’s kind of like modern day Robin Hood.

James Hicks:  See there it is. Yes and I was looking out at ((inaudible)) and I saw you - the episode where you had to blow up Lucille, blow up your van right? So I said oh man, you had to blow up Lucille.

Aldis Hodge:  ((Inaudible)).

James Hicks:  No.

Aldis Hodge:  ((Inaudible)).

James Hicks:  As a follow-up question I mean, let me ask you this man. I'm a tech person myself so I'm wondering what kind of tech gadgets do you have with you right now? What are you carrying for - like a phone or, you know, what you got in your car with you right now?

Aldis Hodge:  I have my iPod, I have my BlackBerry, I'm working off a Mac computer. The most I get into gadgets is when it comes to my watch designs because watches, millions of things people can do with watches. Like there is a watch out there that is made of all crystal. The entire watch is crystal. And you tell time, they use a laser so it’s like light off of the crystal back and forth. So basically you see the time in lights and it’s kind of floating at you.

There’s kinetic watches. There’s watches that are powered by light. There’s watches, you know, with computer chips in them - all that kind of stuff. So I keep up to date on watches and that technology. I go pretty deep into that.

James Hicks:  Okay. All right well I appreciate it and we’re proud of you younger brother.

Aldis Hodge:  Well thank you very much and I thank you.

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Shari VonHolten with haveuheard.net.

Shari VonHolten:  Hi Aldis.

Aldis Hodge:  Hi Shari.

Shari VonHolten:  I was wondering you've been acting since you were a child. And I - how did you avoid the pitfalls that a lot of the child actors fall into?

Aldis Hodge:  Because my mama whipped my behind when she needed to. No my mama was always good. She was always very - I mean I attribute my career to my mother.

She’s always been great. She’s always been very supportive. She was never a stage mom. She never pushed me into doing it. She allowed it to be my choice and she allowed me to find my own way.

But every time there was something that took away that threatened my childhood, you know, she stopped it immediately because...

Shari VonHolten:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  ...one thing about this business was to remain a child. You’re on set as a child, people treat you like an adult.

My brother and I did a Broadway show for 2-1/2 years and I was like 8 he was 9 when we...

Shari VonHolten:  Wow.

Aldis Hodge:  ...started doing that show. And, you know, out of a cast of 100 some odd people there’s only five children so you’re running around there’s a lot of people that don't really notice and they don't care.

So you hear people talking about things and doing things or whatever and it’s not necessarily a horrible environment, it’s a professional environment but it’s also an adult environment.

Shari VonHolten:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  So my mama was always very much a big presence in there. And everybody knew my mother so they always knew to respect us in order to respect her.

She kept education first because she says there’s going to be no acting without education. There’s no such thing as, you know, not hitting the books.

So she made us aware of our priorities very early on in our lives...

Shari VonHolten:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  ...and what was important. This is a job but this is not our life. This is what we like to do. But if you would like to continue doing it if we want to make it there’s a certain you have to go about it, you know, and...

Shari VonHolten:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  ...and that’s what she made us realize. You've got to respect yourself. You’ve got to respect your life, you've got to respect what’s going on around you and you cannot be consumed by what’s going on around you.

You have to create your own way, you have to control it, you have to maintain it and you have to above all respect yourself.

Shari VonHolten:  That’s great.

Aldis Hodge:  I'm pretty sure she would have killed me if I, I don't know, not - and lost my mind on drugs and all that. She...

Shari VonHolten:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  She’s a former Marine so...

Shari VonHolten:  Oh forget it.

Aldis Hodge:  Yes she’s like ((inaudible)). She was a very sweet lady don't get me wrong - a very sweet lady. She’s a wonderful woman. I love her to death. But she’s all about that respect you know?

Operator:  We'll take our next question from Matt Richenthal with tvfanatic.com.

Matt Richenthal:  Hi Aldis. How are you?

Aldis Hodge:  I'm doing great. How about yourself?

Matt Richenthal:  Good, good thanks. I want to talk about costars. I mean it seems like a cliché, but it obviously a lot - obviously a lot of chemistry on the show.  How familiar were you with your fellow actors and actresses before you signed up or once you signed up?

I know Timothy Hutton obviously won an Oscar and he’s a big name but not everyone else was really too big of a name before this show. Were you familiar with their work and did you go back and study it or anything like that?

Aldis Hodge:  I actually wasn't familiar with anyone.

Matt Richenthal:  Okay.

Aldis Hodge:  But...

Matt Richenthal:  Did it take a while...

(Crosstalk)

Matt Richenthal:  ...you guys seem to have?

Aldis Hodge:  What’s that? What’d you say?

Matt Richenthal:  Did - I mean did it therefore take a while to form the kind of chemistry you seem to have?

Aldis Hodge:  No actually I think the attitude, there was no barriers, there was no preset notions around anything. So when we got into Chicago to film the pilot we all kind of meshed and gelled. And we were forced to be aliens because we didn't know Chicago, we didn't know the city. All we knew was us.

So we hung out all the time every night. We went out. And but most of all we were really invested in making this show work, you know.

And one of the best compliments we got as far as the pilot goes is a lot of people said it doesn't look like a pilot, because it seems like you guys have been working together forever.

Matt Richenthal:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  You know, the chemistry is already set.  The first person I met was Christian Kane on the very first well - after the first - the last audition we had for the show I rode up in elevator with Christian Kane. It was just me him and my mom. That’s all that was there in the elevator.

And we were talking about the show and how, you know, we were looking forward to doing it. And it kind of was like yes man, you know, I hope you get it, I hope you get it and we kind of (vibed) then. And that, you know, that was our kind of our defining moment.

The next time I saw him was actually at the fitting. And then when I, you know, we saw each other we’re like dude you got it. Yes, hey man and we were kind of already there. So we’ve been brothers in arms since that moment.

Matt Richenthal:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  Actually we also have another, a friend in common so - who’s (Jay) ((inaudible)) that’s used to kind of raising the bar. We have him in common. So it was nice to know mutual people because it’s easier to relate.

Everybody else I met in Chicago. I wasn't aware of anybody else’s work. But as the show went on, you know, of course they have everybody’s - we’re running constantly. ((Inaudible)) from here.

I've always clicking the channel catching either some (Canes in) or (Tim)’s in. I’d actually seen Beth ((inaudible)) before but I just didn't know it was her.

Matt Richenthal:  Oh yes.

Aldis Hodge:  Yes. Yes.

Matt Richenthal:  Yes. One more question. Was there one moment I guess or, you know, one moment when you kind of knew that you had a hit show on your hands?

Was it after filming the pilot that early could you tell things were going to go well or after you first got picked up for a second season? Was their one, you know, fist pumping moment where you kind of knew what you had?

Aldis Hodge:  Don't take this the wrong way but I don't know if I’ve really never had that moment. I knew that we had a good show on our hands. I knew that we had a great product going.

But, you know, this business not all the time does the good stuff get through. So I've always been on my toes about as saying okay look don't get lazy.

Matt Richenthal:  Right.

Aldis Hodge:  This show is good but keep trying to do better. Keep doing your thing. Don't get settled into feeling that kind of comfort because you never know. And you don't ever want to end up slipping.

So you just keep pressing on and don't ever think about that. I don't take it like that. Every new season we get picked up is a blessing. Every new show that we’re able to do is a blessing.  But I never get comfortable in that yes, you know we've got it, we’re good. It’s not, because not that that’s wrong but it’s just - it’s I'm too afraid to...

Matt Richenthal:  I understand.

Aldis Hodge:  I stay on my toes then.

Matt Richenthal:  Okay cool. Well thank you very much.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you.

Operator:  And I do have a follow-up question from Eunice Moseley with the Baltimore Times.

Eunice Moseley:  Yes thank you for a second opportunity. I was looking at your bio at Nine. You had the part in the Showboat. And I believe you just said it was for about 2-1/2 years.

And then you have the earlier than that print experience. I'm just wondering if that help you in this role. Because sometimes - and it’s so cool when I see it on the show - it’s like where you guys are standing, it’s choreographed.

And then it - the way you’re standing it reminds me of print ads. It’s just really, really cool. It’s like everybody has a choreographed place to stand and I'm just wondering if that helped and is everything choreographed like that?

Aldis Hodge:  Well everything is usually set because we have to work off of our camera operator, (Gary Camp) who is amazing at his job. But we, you know, you have to know where to go...

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  ...go with your person, be like once or twice just to...

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  ...find our mark. So he knows where we are because he has, (Gary) orchestrates what shots he wants to get and what sequence he wants to get and he’s great at his job. So yes we organize it but it’s not too rehearsed like we...

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  ...don’t - it’s funny like we, you know, we don't do tape ((inaudible)). We don't do none of that. We just kind of get down on the day and shoot from the hip...

Eunice Moseley:  Wow.

Aldis Hodge:  ...and see what happens. We never really rehearse the scenes, you know, on average more than twice. We rehearse to get the words and then after that we let the acting happen as soon as they say...

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  ...acting. It feels better that way. It feels more organic for us as actors.

Eunice Moseley:  Yes.

Aldis Hodge:  But we do rehearse, you know, placement and movements for our camera operator.

Eunice Moseley:  It looks wonderful. I love it.

Aldis Hodge:  Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Operator:  And ladies and gentlemen, that is all the time we have for questions today. I'd like to turn the call back over to Ms. Stafford for any closing comments.

Kristina Stafford:  Thank you so much for participating in the Aldis Hodge Leverage conference call. Just a reminder that the new season of Leverage premieres on Sunday, June 20 at 9:00, 8:00 Central on TNT.

 
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