Published on July 17th, 2009 | by Buzzfocus Staff10
Interview: Christian Kane of TNT’s Leverage
Are we going to get to find out about Eliot’s background – why he’s so violent?
Christian Kane: You know it’s going to be – the fact of the matter is that Eliot was so violent because I think he didn’t have a family you know and now that he’s got this family, it’s going to be fun to watch him have to go through all these changes and stuff. And you know Nate, he grew up without a heart, and I think Nate’s instilled a heart in him now, so it’s going to be – it’s going to be a different season, but he’s still going to whoop a lot of ass.
What’s been your most memorable moment you’ve had from filming “Leverage” so far?
Christian Kane: Well, I just got 17 stitches taken out of my forehead, so that wasn’t a fun deal, so the stuff that’s gone wrong. You know I do – I do all my own stunts and stuff, and the morning after that, I came in with 17 stitches and I put on a baseball cap and did a fight scene that morning first (up). And I thought that that was a real testament to John Rogers and also Dean Devlin for letting me continue to do my own stunts even after something like that happened where you know one of their lead actors has got a fucked up face. So, there you go.
It seems that Eliot’s got a pretty good read on the way that Nate’s mind works and a pretty deep respect for him, too. Is that something that you are going to explore more this season?
Christian Kane: It definitely will be. And you’re going to see it all – you’re going to see it all unwind you know come later on in the season to be honest with you. You know I don’t know if it’s that Eliot’s got a good read on him or that Christian Kane and Tim Hutton are just such good friends. You know I know this guy, we’re out every night, we have a – we have a glass of wine with dinner every night and talk about the show. And we’ve really become really close. He’s a – he’s a dear friend of mine. And I think sometimes that kind of rolls into that stuff.
But if you had to – Elliot and Nate have a – have their own deal, and if you noticed in the pilot which I thought was funny because someone else brought it up and I never even thought about it until someone brought it up, but Nate is choreographing these people in the – in the pilot of the first season. And he calls (Hardison, Hardison) and he calls (Parker, Parker), but he calls Eliot, Eliot and he calls me by my first name. And I thought that was really – I thought that was really wild that guys actually have a history, and you – and you may see this unfold during the – during the season.
How involved are you in the development of your character? It seems like you bring a lot of your skills to the role. Do you work on any of the dialog or any of the character development with the writers?
Christian Kane: Well you know John Rogers writes my dialog and he’s the head writer and we’ve got some great writers on this show. And I’m one of those actors that if it’s (there) on the page, why change it you know. We’ve got – we’ve got good writers, and so I trust them. We do a little adlibbing and stuff like that, but I – as development on the character, it’s really not my place to take that you know. Like, Tim’s developing his character, the rest of the actors are developing their character, but you know until they give me something that’s really going to twist this guy… so, I’m just going to keep hitting people until they tell me to stop.
People remembered you from “Angel“, of course, which still has a huge following, but now “Leverage” is developing its own following. What’s it like to be on a show where that following is now developing and coming out? Have people started recognizing you now more from this as opposed to Angel?
Christian Kane: You know a little bit, but the fact of the matter is that Angel is always going to be “Angel.” And you know I actually talked to (Laurie Ennis) about – one of my best friends – my best friend the other day. And you know it’s, like – it’s just like – it’s just like David. I mean how do you go from being Angel to going to “Bones”? Do you know what I mean? You’re always going to be this vampire.
But he’s done it so well, he’s transitioned so well, and I think that that’s such a huge, huge compliment not only to him, but more importantly to the “Angel” fans. And so they’re so diehard and they’re so crazy and they’re so psychotic and I love them to death. They will – that they can – they can – in their mind, they can see us playing other characters and there’s not a lot of people that can do that. I mean you know James Van Der Beek is fucked. He’s always going to be Dawson.
But we got “Angel” fans, and so Angel’s going to go and he’s going to be “Bones” – he’s going to be on “Bones,” he’s going to be (Boot), and I think that carried this character over as Eliot. And I’m just so happy more than anything that they’ve – that they’ve switched channels and come over and followed me as well. You know I’ve got the – I’ll say it again – I’ve got the greatest fans in the world you know and a lot of them – and most of it has to do with Angel to be honest with you.
Tell us about your interest in designing women’s lingerie because that seems like a real interesting sideline.
Christian Kane: Well you know the fact of the matter is I’m a – I’m a lingerie fan… I’ve always – I’ve always been. I think it’s a tough gig to do, but I’m going to do it. I think that I love women in lingerie. I really do. And I used to shop at Victoria’s Secrets, but it’s the – Victoria’s Secrets to me has really become Frederick’s of Hollywood. There’s no fantasy. I mean its all fantasy now. There’s no – there’s no sophistication anymore. And so I know it sounds weird for an actor to be in this business, but the fact of the matter is is that I did it because I really wanted to bring class and sophistication back into the bedroom. You know I don’t need to see everything. I’m going to get there anyway. I really wanted to bring a – like I said, a sophistication back into the bedroom and bring class back into the lingerie line.
How did you get into the martial arts at first and, like, what drew you to it?
Christian Kane: Well, I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t get into the martial arts because I was wrestler growing up in Oklahoma, and used to be if you were a wrestler, you won the fight. There was no jiu jitsu, there was no Kali, there was no – you know there was no – there was no anything else. I mean people took karate, but I’m a wrestler. I’m going to take the leg anyway. If you want to hand it to me, that’s your fault. So, I didn’t really get into it. I’m a wrestler.
And so you know my whole thing is on the ground. And just recently you know well in the last 10 years, all this stuff has been coming out. So, I’ve had to learn some new stuff. The fact of the matter with Eliot with the Kali is that I wanted to keep the things – I wanted to keep the fights close and hardcore, and I didn’t want to back up, I didn’t want any kick-boxing. And jiu jitsu is just not that much fun. I mean jiu jitsu and wrestling is going – you’re going to be on the ground. That’s wasted television time you know what I mean? Because you – to actually (do) jiu jitsu moves, unless you do it quick, it’s five minutes of television and they don’t have that much time on the show.
So, I wanted quick, short, fast blows, and Kali just was the way to go with that. So, I worked with (Charlie Brewer), who is the stunt coordinator, the first season, and it was quick. It’s elbows and it’s knees and it’s also you know instead of – instead of blocking a punch and then throwing a punch, Kali is usually blocking and throwing at the same time. And I thought that was more offensive than playing defense.
And you know I’m a big Jason Bourne fan and this character you know is kind of – kind of written like Jason Bourne and those fights that they use. That’s why we use 45 shutter on the fight scenes. It’s got to be quick, it’s got to be precise, and it’s got to be done quick. And so that what – that what we do.
So, were you the one who originally came up with the idea to use Filipino Kali?
Christian Kane: No, I just was a guy that threw a lot of elbows and when (Charlie Brewer) saw that, he was, like, “You know this is a great idea.” He was, like, “You know punch, punch, punch,” and I’m, like, “You know if I’m right here, I’m going to throw an elbow or I’m going to throw a knee and I’m just going to take the guy out.” And he said, “That’s Kali.” And I was, like, “Well, let’s just use that.” And so we kind of came up with that whole – with that whole plan you know.
You seem to have such a myriad of interests from, like you know cooking to creating lingerie to doing wrestling and martial arts. What do you attribute that to – that so much diversity in your, like, interests – your personal interests?
Christian Kane: Oh, I just – I think that I have a good mom and dad, man. I think that – I think that I just – I grew up – you know we – my daddy worked hard and we never wanted, but we always you know we strived to get – to get better. And I think that that’s the whole thing, and I just live – I live my life on two quotes, man you know which is “Ninety percent of life is showing up.” That’s Woody Allen. And the other one is “You learn to fight by fighting,” and that’s Bruce Lee.
And it’s – and it’s you know it’s not – it doesn’t just have to do with fighting. You learn to cook by cooking, you learn to sing by singing, you learn to do all this other stuff. I just – I don’t know. I’ve been very fortunate in my whole life. I think it was Ferris Buehler that said it best. He said, “If you don’t stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it.” And I realize that you know this is – this right now where I’m at is the best time in my life, and two weeks ago when I was there, that was the best time in my life. And people just don’t realize that sometimes and I’ve – and I’ve come to deal with it. And I just – you know I love art.
You said that you got 18 stitches on set for “Leverage,” and I know you also had an upper lip scar in “Second-Hand Lions.” Do you know how many, like, scars you’ve got in total, like, doing your own stunts throughout your acting career?
Christian Kane: Well, so, one, two, three, four, five. I think five. I don’t know. I mean you know if I – if I was going to count my scars, I mean this is not – this is not – I mean I’ve got – I’ve got probably more than 20 from street fighting back in the – you know so it’s not – it’s – I’ve got a lot of scars on this body. I think from doing my own stunts you know not counting broken bones which I’ve suffered (a couple), I think five.
Many of your co-stars have commented on the various roles you all get to play over the course of an episode. Is it difficult playing so many different characters in one episode? Do you have to prepare more for that?
Christian Kane: You always have to prepare a little bit ore to be honest with you, but the fact of the matter is is that you just – you really – you get – you get so much leeway with playing a character inside character. I mean because if I do a role that’s really bad on the show, you don’t blame Christian Kane, you blame – you blame Eliot Spencer. And that’s why – that’s why Tim gets to get away with (all that) stuff is because if he’s doing a bad character, you don’t blame Timothy Hutton, the Academy Award winner, you blame Nate (Ford) you know what I mean?
And so it’s really good because we can go over the top and if it doesn’t work, you’re not – it’s not bad acting, it’s just bad acting on Eliot’s part.
Are we going to see more of you and Hardison going back and forth because it seems you have a really good chemistry together.
Christian Kane: Yes you know what? And Dean Devlin really loves that. You’re going to see a lot more of it. As a matter of fact, I just wrapped up a scene with him yesterday morning with me and him. And, man, he was going – and I couldn’t help – you know and I’m laughing and I’m trying to be the tough guy and stuff like that, and it’s really hard to work with (Alice) because we both just laugh at each other you know. It’s a – it’s a lot of fun. But you definitely are going to see the – we call it the two-three punch. We call it lethal weapon. That’s what we do, yes.
In the “Tap Out Job” trailer, we see Eliot being a pro and showing (Sophie) about wrestling, using (Hardison) and (Parker) as sort of puppets.
Was there a lot of laughter going on when you guys were trying to film that because you look really straight-faced? Tell us about that.
Christian Kane: So much it was ridiculous, man. It really was ridiculous. They should get the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s never in because the stuff we do is just like unbelievable. We’re always cracking up. And it was really hard to shoot that scene. I think it actually put us behind on the day because we were laughing so hard and because you know Alice kept doing these, like, juke and you know Muhammad Ali moves and stuff like that. And I was – and I had to wait to tell (Parker) to hit him because I was, like, I had to wait for him to settle down because you know I choreographed this whole thing with (Beth).
Christian Kane: And I choreograph a lot of the fights, and so this was – this was one that I was in on. And I was, like – I was, like, “(Beth) you know you can’t hit him, so you’ve got to hit him you know by the face because obviously we’re not really punching people. But he kept moving so much that I was, like, “You’ve got to wait, you’ve got to wait,” and so then, I’m, like, “Now, now punch him.” And it was – and it was – it was just really, really funny. And Tim pretends not to watch, but Tim was watching the whole time, and we were – we were cracking up. It’s a really funny scene.
Do you have another favorite scene from the episode “The Tap Out Job?”
Christian Kane: At the very end when I’m talking to (Gina), and (Gina) you know being from England and you know she’s a tough girl. But she doesn’t understand the mentality of a fighter, and when she walks up to the ring and she’s talking to me and she doesn’t understand why I’m doing this and it’s really not for personal gratification. It’s just because you know Eliot has to fight. And there’s a really, really close, close moment there with me and (Gina) which you’ve never seen before because we don’t have that much stuff together that I absolutely love. And it’s probably when I’m in the ring and she comes in towards the end and says, “You know you don’t need to do this,” it’s may be – it’s probably my favorite scene of the whole – of the whole – of the whole – this far of the entire show.
Do you hope something happens with Eliot’s love life in season two?
Christian Kane: You know I think that – I think that Eliot’s a little bit you know – Eliot was – doesn’t have a heart, and the only – the only – the only way he really does is because Nate’s given him one now because he’s helping people. So, I think that I don’t know to be honest with you. I wouldn’t mind seeing something that. I don’t know if it’ll work for the character. It would be – it would have to be something that John Rogers would have to write because it’s very, very tricky. Tricky to deal with Eliot being you know – he thinks she’s 007 and … you know there’s a lot of girls and stuff like that. But it would be very interesting to see. I would love to see it. It’s just – it’s – it’s such a tricky, tricky thing to write you know because then he actually has to start caring about something and I think that you know that’s the worst thing in the world is if he starts you know thinking with his heart instead of his fists. He could find himself in trouble.