Leverage’s Christian Kane Q & A Interview

If you aren’t watching Leverage, the modern Robin Hood show on TNT, you’re really missing out. Putting more fun and adventure into the con game every week, and providing a good mix of criminal comeuppance and character, the show is getting better and better.

I don’t know about you, but Eliot is definitely one of my favorites on the show, and Christian Kane took part in a Q & A recently. With not only several film and television titles under his belt, but also a blossoming singing career, Christian has a very interesting, multi-faceted guy, and the interview resulted in quite the exchange.

Before you get too wrapped up in the interview, check out his single. You’ll be glad you did.

Preview provided courtesy of iTunes

Download his single “Thinking of You”
Thinking

The third season of LEVERAGE opens with Nate in prison after having to make a tough choice on the most recent con. He could either allow his team to be arrested or simply give himself up to his nemesis Sterling, a former insurance investigator now working for Interpol. Nate soon discovers, however, that the prison is corrupt. The only way he can bring the crooked officials down is to get his team to help him stage his jailbreak.

But that’s only the beginning of Nate’s challenges. He must also contend with a shadowy intelligence agent known only as “The Italian,” played by actress and model Elisabetta Canalis, who blackmails him into helping bring down a financier. Between “The Italian” trying to control Nate and Nate trying to hold both his crew and his personal life together, it’s looking to be a challenging and twisted summer for the LEVERAGE team.

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Did you grow up listening to country music, was that something playing in the house all the time, or were your parents rock and rollers, and you just picked it up somewhere else?

Christian Kane: You know I could lie about it and tell you that I’ve been a country fan my whole life, but the fact of the matter is, is mom and dad grew up you know they met in the rodeo, and they had country music blaring out all of – my whole childhood. So when I – you know when I – when I started – old enough to listen to my own music, I went straight to rock and roll, it’s funny how moving to Los Angeles can move you right back to your roots, and I just – I just went back to country.

Yes, so I did – I grew up with it, and I know it very, very well, but you know was – when Guns and Roses came out, that was my calling card.

That was enough for you then.

Christian Kane: That was it.

Did you get approached to write and perform this song? Or was it your idea?

Christian Kane: Well I was – it was – it was a little bit of my idea, but you know (John Rogers), we had talked about doing a music episode, taking down a record company for a certain reason. And we ended – you know (John) tried to fit it in second season, but it just didn’t work. We – I’d had some really great success, as well as “Angel” did, when I sang on “Angel” in second season, and just you know we developed such a big fan base out of that whole episode for my – for my band.

And so (John) took note of that, and caught wind that, and it was – you know it was (John’s) idea to do it, I think that it was me kind of egging him on, and then, of course, I got the fans involved, and I’ve got the best fans in the world. So I think he just got tired of listening to them.

So we did it, and you know the song was – the song is a song I wrote a couple of years ago, I tried to put something that was going to be on the album, and that’s coming out now, and is actually coming out in October. But the single’s coming out – the actual single’s coming out September 1. And another great thing about that is Tim Hutton directed the music video, and Tim directed you know “Drive” by The Cars, and Don Henley and Neil Young. So he’s – you know this is old hat for him.

So for my co-worker and one of my best friends to direct my video was an honor, and then those both come out together first week of September. But I couldn’t find the song on the album that I really wanted to do this, and then I looked at this older song that I had, and I was like oh, this is it. And so we’ve decided now to put this song on the album.

And the great thing about this song is this song is actually going to be available on iTunes, “Thinking of You”, the night the episode airs. So after the episode airs, if you like this song, you can go to iTunes and download it. And so we’re really excited about that. But it was …

… and to answer your original question, it was – it was a little bit of collaboration between me and (John Rogers), Dean’s a fan of the music, so Dean gave it the green light.

I wanted to ask you about this song, it was beautifully written. And did you write both the rhythm and the lyrics, both of them?

Christian Kane: I did, me and (Blair Daly) actually ironically, the guy that wrote “The House Rules”, which was my first single, we wrote that together in about 30 minutes. I had something to say that day. You know most of my songs are about a girl, if they’re not about a girl, they’re about beer drinking, but this one – this one’s about a girl, and I get a lot of my – a lot of my influences come from love, and more importantly, heartache.

And I had something to say that day, and we really wrote it in like 30 minutes, it just liked poured out on the page. And so you know he was playing guitar, we were both coming up with some stuff, and I – so yes, I collaborated on it – me and (Blair) collaborated together on music and lyrics.

Now how are the other characters within your ensemble going to react to your character’s obvious amazing talent to pull out this performance? How is it going to color the rest of the season and maybe next year with them realizing that you’re just more than you know the muscle of the team?

Christian Kane: I don’t know, is – but the fact of the matter is, is that we’re all – we’re all playing a couple of different roles this year, we’re all trying on each other’s hats, and so that was – you know that was one of the things that we’re – that we’re really experimenting with this year.

And so you know they’ve got their own – they’ve got their own shit to deal with, man you know so it’s like – so they – I don’t think that they even notice for a second, we’re all kind of – at the same time we’re a family, we’re a little bit self absorbed when it comes to characters, because we’re so used to working as individuals, and working alone, that you know we’re really worried about peace of mind and our – and our state of mind, if you will, and not falling back off the track, and turning to crime again.

So I think they’re going to be fine with it, I – you know – I also – I also make the whole cast come watch me when I play in Portland, Oregon, I make them all show up for the music shows, and so they’ve seen me sing before.

I wondered if – are we going to now be seeing perhaps a softer side of your character? Is this going to be precursor to seeing a little more emotion from him?

Christian Kane: Well I think the – I think the fact is over the last couple of – over the last couple of seasons you know Eliot has developed more of a heart. I mean make no mistake about it, he’s a stone cold killer, that’s what he is.

He always has been you know he doesn’t – but the thing is, is that what’s wrong with that is when someone develops a heart, and throughout the episodes, we’ve kind of seen him come a more – come around more to you know liking Hardison a little bit more. And you know stuff like that, and he’s developing a heart, he’s the tin man, he’s a tin man, and he – and – but that can always hurt you if you build it too quick.

And so I think that’s what he’s doing is I think he’s building a heart way too fast, and so that’s always going to come back to bite you, and I think that throughout the season, or you know maybe towards the end, you’re going to see where it does come back to hurt him, and when that happens, I mean you know how mean Eliot is already, so I’m not sure if that’s going to be a good thing or not.

So did you – do you like being referred to as the B.A. Baracus of the show, or how do you feel about that? I read a couple of interviews …

Christian Kane: I didn’t want it at all, I took a lot of stuff from Mr. T when I got this role you know it was a – this guy’s – this is a Jason Borne character, it really is, that’s who he was before. And in order for me to be part of the team, if I was Jason Borne, I’d just be sitting there and I’d just be taking everything in, I wouldn’t talk a lot, and I was like how am I going to make this guy you know stand out and be – and be part of a team and be a – be a force to reckon with? And I just took – I just took one of my all time heroes, which is you know – you know Mr. T, and I said …

… you know B.A. Baracus was always pissed off about everything, so I’m just going to make Eliot mad at anything. I mean – and it’s really what I’ve done. If you’ll notice you know if Hardison drops a fork or if (Beth) spills a glass, it just makes him so mad, he can’t even sit in his seat. And I really – I really stole that from B.A. Baracus, so I have no problem with people telling me that, that’s a – that’s a great compliment to have, because that’s kind of what I was going for.

Leverage is a great show when it comes to balancing both the dramatic, the action stuff, and the comedy. So which of those is harder to play for you? Is it harder to get into those big complicated action sequences, or is it harder to nail the comedic timing?

Christian Kane: No, the action stuff I’ve gotten, and you know I was on “Angel” for 5 years, and I’ve done a lot of films where actually – “Secondhand Lions”, (“Summer Cat”) you know all the – all the physical stuff is not really that hard for me, and it takes a toll out on your body, but it’s not that tough.

I would say it was the comedy you know but I’ve surrounded myself with a good cast you know so I mean being the tough guy, that’s what I was hired for, I was not hired for comedy. But I’m kind of like Jerry Seinfeld, man, I mean they surround me with people that knew what they were doing when it came to comedy, so I just kind of feed off of them.

And it’s been a – it’s been a lot of fun, and the – and the writers started writing Eliot a little bit more funny, so you know that’s all – that’s just the best thing in the world, and that’s the best the point is that we’re not – we’re not taking this show – we’re taking it – we don’t want to insult anybody by being so serious, it’s ridiculous you know we know that these people that were – that are sitting on the couch watching the show, that are – that have been so supportive and great fans.

We know that at some point, we’re going to hit on something that really touches home to them, I mean you know this – they’re – we’re going to be talking – we’re going to be taking somebody down that directly affects their life. And we’re going to throw punches for you, and I think that’s what makes the show great.

At the same time, you want to be entertained, you just live that at the office, so you’re sitting back on your couch with a beer you know it’s – you’ve got to be entertained, and I think that’s what we do. And I’ve said this before, but I take a lot from a quote Garth Brooks said, which is you know no matter what seat in the house you have, no matter if you had a backstage pass, no matter where you were, what mood you were in, whatever, I was the one that had the most fun.

And we really are the ones having the most fun, and I think that that bleeds out into the living room, and I think that people need that right now in this economical time. And so I think that’s why this show is so successful, I mean – and it’s just – you know it’s – this is a show for my dad you know it’s a – it’s for the – it’s for the guys that can’t – they can’t throw punches when they get to the office, and so we do it for you. I think it’s very important right now in America.

I saw you’ve got some great guest stars this season; I know you were excited about a couple of them on Twitter. Wonder if you could tell us about that.

Christian Kane: Oh, it’s just been an amazing year. I mean we’ve got these – we’ve got these A list people coming in from Hollywood that have – that have – you know that have watched the show, and enjoyed the show, wanted to come on. I don’t know how we’ve been so fortunate.

We’ve had – we’ve got John Schneider coming in with his – you know he’s in the episode with me Sunday night, and I get to fight John Schneider, I get to fight Bo Duke, my – you know my childhood idol, I get to fight him. You know we had – I mean we’ve had Richard Chamberlain come in, we’ve had – we’ve had – Bill Engvall came in, actually, Bill Engvall came in and did a – and did an episode a race car show you know NASCAR stuff, and so that was – that was amazing, and he was a fan of the show.

We’ve had unbelievable guest stars this year, and there’s some that I can’t talk about, to be honest with you. But they’ll – but they’ll be popping up, I mean you know it’s just – for this season, the – more people came out of the woodwork, and it’s just been so great, man, we’ve been very – we get one every week you know and there’s not a lot of shows that get to do that, and so we’ve been so fortunate.

I think you know the show in itself has something to do with that, but I think you know Dean Devlin also, people love working with Dean Devlin, so that’s been great.

If you had to describe your character in one word, what would it be, and why?

Christian Kane: Wow. I would say – I would have to say vengeance, I think he’s paying – I think he’s paying – I think he’s paying a lot of people back that have wronged him in his life, I really honestly do. I think – and I think it’s – I think it’s mostly the people that sent him to kill people, I think that this is his – this is his thing, and in a – in a sense of vengeance, I’m saying not vengeance as in you know like going in to kill people I think is the vengeance of doing well, and doing the good fight because he did so much bad for so long.

Leverage airs on TNT Sundays at 9:00/8:00 Central

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Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.