Actress Beth Riesgraf opened up a little about what to expect out of the current season of Leverage, what she does to train for her character and hopefully transitioning into a film career. Beth Riesgraf plays Parker, the “thief” of the show who can break into any place and steal anything.
Season four is currently airing on TNT and Beth gave a little insight on the show. “Well, Leverage season 4 started out with a bang! We are all happy to say the show will deliver fantastic episodes mostly fueled by high stakes, action, comedy, and of course developments in our characters’ interpersonal relationships. Audiences will enjoy watching as our team targets evil doers such as: a woman who profits from other people’s grief through a funeral scam, a millionaire who pays to have himself moved up on a transplant waiting list, and a big corporation out to bury potato farmers. We have some amazing guest stars this season as well, one of my favorites, Danny Glover, guest stars in a special episode, where the team searches for a lost Van Gogh painting at the center of a World War II love story between a black soldier and the white heiress he was forced to leave behind.”
I asked Beth if she was surprised at the success of the show given the show really is about a bunch of thieves and “bad” guys although more in the Robin Hood/Han Solo type of “bad”? Ms. Riesgraf, “I don’t know if surprised is the right word, haha, but I think we are all really happy it’s been received so well! Like you said, we are more the Robin Hood type of bad. We are thieves and grifters, but ultimately we want to help innocent victims get the revenge and justice they deserve. With all that’s happening in the world politically and ethically today, I think audiences relate to the team’s purpose and like seeing a group like our Leverage team, who can operate above the law and make a difference when no one else seems to be able to. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see the phone hackers from News of the World taken down!?”
Season 3 seemed to open a lot of doors into the past of all the characters, we meet a father figure for Parker, will we see even more skeletons and secrets come out from Parker? Beth, “Yes, this season deals a lot with consequence. Now that the audience has had a glimpse into Parker’s past they will get a chance to see her struggle and overcome certain obstacles and boundaries she’s created for herself because of her past. She is learning to trust and to have faith by slowly letting down some of her walls… fans shouldn’t worry, she will never be “the normal girl next door” (thank goodness!), but let’s just say it doesn’t come easy for her!”
Her character Parker does a lot of high wire stunts, elevator shaft climbing and duct shimmering. Asked if she had any special training for the show, “I was sort of thrown into the stunts in the pilot episode, (because I was cast only a few days before filming began), but luckily I’ve had time to adapt through the seasons. Now knowing what is expected like harness work, climbing, and crawling around air vents.. (haha, the last one isn’t so hard! ) I train during filming and on hiatus with cardio, and strength training like pilates. The harness work requires a strong core so if you’re not careful you can throw your back out.”
Beth Riesgraf is known predominantly for television, but I asked her if she would like to translate later into film or is TV where she sees herself in the future. “I’d love to move into film. I really enjoy the pacing of filmmaking- being able to focus on one character, one story, for a few months, and then be able to move onto another one. That being said, I would also love to continue to work in TV. We are seeing more and more “film” actors make the transition to TV. The opportunity to work with great writers and play dynamic characters can be found there too, more now than ever.”
Beth did a little bit of everything in high school (student body president, prom queen, photography club etc.) and Parker doesn’t seem to have any past social events in her life, I asked if she finds it difficult to play a character so opposite of herself or if she enjoyed the challenge. “Parker and I, we both enjoy a good challenge! I think we all have areas of life that haven’t been fully explored. I didn’t know anything about the world Parker comes from before we started Leverage, but I’ve found my way through it. Sometimes stumbling along the way, but I have found my place in it all. Just as she’s finding her place in life, and defining more of who she is within the Leverage team.”
A lot of the series has been based in Boston, but not filmed here, as a local Boston actor myself I like to know how others feel about a show filming in different locations than where its supposed to be. Beth Riesgraf, “I am sad to say I have never been to Boston.. I wish we could film there too! I plan to visit very soon, but in the mean time it’s nice to know we can film in and around Portland. They’ve been very good to us and between existing Boston footage and non descript exteriors, it seems like we’ve been able to pull it off.” Although I will add her love interest Hardison did mispronounce our city of Methuen a few weeks back.
Mark Sheppard has been in pretty much every TV show on cable the past 10 years, I asked if everyone just calls him “Lucky” or give him a good ribbing for always being on TV? I’m a big fan of his from Battlestar Galactica to Leverage, to Supernatural etc. Beth, “When you meet Mark Sheppard you know instantly why he is in such high demand. He is charming, charismatic and one hell of an actor. I think we and other shows are the lucky ones to have him!”
I’m a big fan of actor Jason Lee (who she has a son with) so I had to ask, where oh where did the name Pilot Inspektor (their son’s name) come from? Ms. Riesgraf, “Like many other parents, we simply chose a name for our son that we liked.” I can accept that. :)
Beth would like everyone to know about her friend Amy Purdy and her amazing story, she started Adaptive Action Sports because of it. You should check it out http://www.adacs.org/
As always feel free to subscribe and follow me www.Twitter.com/Murraymaker and you can follow Beth Riesgraf at www.twitter.com/bethjriesgraf