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Christian Kane Of TNT's Leverage
By Matt Mungle
The new high octane series Leverage kicks off Sunday night on TNT. An action crime drama starring Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman (Coupling), Christian Kane (TNT's Into the West), Beth Riesgraf (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and Aldis Hodge (Friday Night Lights) as a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who join forces to take revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize others. Leverage is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT's The Librarian), John Rogers (Cosby) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens) and comes to the network from Devlin's Electric Entertainment. Devlin makes his directorial debut on the pilot, which was written by Rogers (Transformers) and Downey.
I had a chance to sit down with Christian Kane (musician/actor) to talk about his career and this new endeavor. The following is from that chat.
MUNGLE: The transition from musician to in front of the camera or vice versa, how did that all happen, how do these things take place?
KANE: Well, you know, the first role I did was a show called Fame LA. And I got it because I was a singer, they said. It was like Fame in New York, you know, the old show Fame? Well, they did one in Los Angeles and so you had to have another talent besides acting, you know, I guess. Everybody had their own thing. And they wanted me to be a comedian, but I wasn't funny at all so I said you know what? I sing country music, I'm from Oklahoma. And, so that's how I actually got my first role because I was a country singer.
KANE: It's two different things. I'm an actor. I'm paid to lie. You know what I mean? And that's what you do, you lie. And that's what you're doing, you're playing a role and you're acting and you're pretending. With music, you can't lie 'cause the crowd will see through it. So when someone asks oh, what's your first love? Which one would you rather? They're two different monsters. One is literally being a professional liar and another one to me is being a professional truth-sayer.
MUNGLE: In real music. But do you see the trend in music, though, where you see these people that are not really musicians, they're paid 'cause they look a certain way, and they put 'em in a…
KANE: Oh, absolutely. But country music is totally different than any other genre out there. Everybody thinks oh, it's Middle America, it's a bunch of red necks that are not gonna understand anything. Absolutely false, those people can read you better than anybody else, they know if you're lying. I don't do songs about riding a tractor 10 hours a day, I don't do that. I don't sing songs about marriage, I don't sing songs about other stuff. I don't know anything about that yet. I really try to base the songs that I write, and the songs that I sing, they have to have something to do with me, they have to come from the heart. They'll know if you are lying. I've done it. You put energy out there into the crowd and it comes back, it's the best drug in the world.
And if you lie to them they're not gonna trust you.
MUNGLE: Yeah, so how does that transcend into characters here? I mean as far as putting yourself into the character and finding something about him that's relatable enough where you can put part of you in it but still follow the script?
KANE: John Rogers wrote this show and created the show. With Chris. And he wrote Transformers, he's written everything. He had me in mind when he wrote this, he had this character in mind. I was on Angel for 5 years, so…my best friend was on that show, David Boreanaz. And his stunt double is named Mike Maser, unbelievable choreographer. I was fortunate enough Mike let me do my own stunts. So I learned a lot from that, then I went and did Second Hand Lions with Robert Duval and I did all my own stunts there. I had a good background with doing stunts and stuff. My character (Eliot Spencer) is a fighter, he's a Jason Bourne type character. When John wrote it he was thinking of me and it just so happen I was available (laugh). And I'm very fortunate they picked me. So, this guy's not much of a stretch for me. The Jason Bourne thing, I use that term, I'm a big fan of the series, of the movies.
KANE: I think Matt Damon did a hell of a job. That won't work on television. Because Jason Bourne in that type of silent assassin navy seal type stuff, they don't talk a lot. They just whoop somebody's ass, but they don't talk a lot. It's like on television, you gotta talk. So I kinda based this character on B.A Baracus of the A-Team of the '80's, ya know what I mean? It was one of my favorite shows. He's just mad at the world. Somebody drops a fork, it pisses him off. I put that in there, I was like I could either be silent and quiet and not show up on TV, 'cause you only got an hour to sell this stuff, or I could do it a different way. So I went with the different way. He's just really mad, he's very angry at the world. He's just really one of those intense guys. It's not a stretch for me to be honest with you. I wrestled growing up in Oklahoma, I've taken different styles of martial arts, never stopped with one, I'm not a tough guy. The greatest thing about doing what I do is that it is dance.
KANE: It's a choreographed dance. You start off slow and then you get fast and by the time you're filming you're going full speed. But it really is just a choreographed dance. You're usually dancing with another person, but sometimes you dance with 4 people. And they remember their steps and you remember your steps and it's a beautiful dance when you get done, it's just a brutal fight scene that you end up with. The only difference between us and Dancing With the Stars is that they get voted off if the wrong move, and we end up going to the hospital.
MUNGLE: That and the wardrobe, that's it.
KANE: (Laugh) That's it. Exactly.
MUNGLE: Yeah, and I like the way they do your character, there's a little mystique to it when they first introduce him, like some of the other characters don't know exactly, like what do you do? Why are you here? That's their impression of you.
MUNGLE: I like the way they're doing that as a television series. A lot of times TV will cut corners saying eh, it's tv anybody will watch it, they don't look for the details, which I thought they did on Leverage. You know it's got everything from the music to the comedy…ya know it reminds me of the earlier Oceans 11 stuff. With just the music and the vibe and the groove that's going on. And just the way the characters interact.
KANE: That's Dean Devlin. Dean Devlin is producing the show, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot; he's the action guy. You come to Hollywood to work with Dean Devlin. And I'm getting to, so it's kinda nice.
MUNGLE: So if it all ended here. Your career I mean. Would you consider it all a success? Everything you have done. Or do you want more.
KANE: Yeah, I mean. I am lucky to have done what I have. The good Lord has certainly looked down on me. So yeah. I want to do more, and hope I get to, but this life. To be able to do what do. I am lucky. And I hope, yeah, it was a success.
Again, Leverage kicks off the premiere Sunday night on TNT. If you are like me you are fed up with the lack of decent television these days. I encourage you to give this one a shot. I didn't expect much but came away impressed and a fan. So that is all I suggest, just give it a chance.
Series Premiere Sunday Dec. 7 at 10/9c
Then all new episodes on Tuesdays beginning
Dec 9 at 10/9c