Talking Comics with Tim | John Rogers on Leverage
This Sunday, December 12, TNT is giving Leverage fans a holiday treat of new Season 3 episodes. First up is The Ho Ho Ho Job (the December 12 episode, which TNT previewed with this clip, is set to air at 9 PM EST ), followed by the two-hour season finale on December 19. Given that neither myself nor Graeme make it a secret how much we enjoy the show, series co-creator John Rogers was more than happy to answer my questions in a recent email exchange. While I had his attention, we also touched upon his Dungeons & Dragons work for IDW (the column is supposed to be about talking comics at some point, of course [also be sure to check out CBR’s late October 2010 John Rogers interview where he discussed the ongoing comic in greater detail]). One final thing, if you are not a frequent visitor to Rogers’ blog, Kung Fu Monkey, you should be. The man finds a way to make his show’s hate mail worthwhile reading. As for the upcoming episodes, I was hooked at the name Dave Foley.
Tim O’Shea: In this latest batch of new episodes, who of the core cast do we get to delve deeper into their back stories?
John Rogers: We’ve implied for a long time that Christian Kane’s character, Eliot Spencer, did violence professionally for a long time. We get to see him work with his usual moral restraints off … In the second half of the season finale, it’s very Sophie-centric. Not so much her backstory but just a nice bit on her evolution as a character.
O’Shea: Who are some of the guest stars you were able to tap this go around?
Rogers: Well, fan favorite (and personal fave) Wil Wheaton’s coming back, and I was so happy we got KIDS IN THE HALL’s Dave Foley as one of our most ambivalent bad guys. Of course, Goran Visnjic got to play a bad guy for the first time, for us. He had a hell of a lot fo fun, and he just eats up the screen. Goran works a good gloat.
O’Shea: Is it getting tougher to come up with new predicaments for the team to face or will you always have a bevy of ideas in the writing staff’s collective back pocket?
Rogers: Sadly, there never seems to be a shortage of rich guys getting away with unpleasant shit. I will say that I’m always worried we’ve run out of the high-concept ways of brining them down, but the writers manage to cook up some great, unique cons and settings every year. We’re already a half-dozen into the new season in outlines, and they;re all unique, nothing like what we’ve done before.
Also, crime continually evolves. There are new way sto rip you off and victimize you being invented literally every day. Which is horrible for, say, you and your loved ones, but cool for us.
O’Shea: Any teasers or inside info you care to reveal for the new season? Do we get to find out about Nate’s mom or sis?
Rogers: You meet some more family members, some past criminal associates, and a couple people finally get off the stick and try going on a date or two. Of course, LEVERAGE dates are somewhat different …
O’Shea: Did Tim Hutton get a chance to direct one of these new episodes? Are the dynamics vastly different when a cast member directs or is it alwways such a collaborative environment, there’s no marked difference?
Rogers: Tim didn’t direct any of the December episodes. He may do some Seaosn 4 eps, but to tell the truth he’s pretty jammed up on every single episode. The only comparable experience I can tell you about is when I directed last Season [The Inside Job]. Everybody really bent over backwards to help me through it. It really helps that Tim’s directed — the scene in the kitchen with Gina, in my ep, he blocked that out on the fly the day before.
O’Shea: In addition to being one of the main forces behind a successful cable show, writing D&D for IDW, when the heck did you find time for the Netflix Friday reviews? And do you find doing critical analysis like that is of some benefit to your own creative efforts?
Rogers: Ah, Netflix Fridays, the series of posts my manager yells at me for. “You could be GETTING PAID FOR THAT!” Any writing helps all your writing. And parsing out why you like something or don’t like other things, it helps clarify your own thoughts. For a creative field, screenwriting requires that you have a pretty good handle on your own consistent methodology, just to hit your pagecount.
Actually, those posts led to me writing my first non-fiction work, a book about film noir that’s currently kicking my ass.
O’Shea: Speaking of your comics work, how much fun was it to write the first new D&D comic in 20 years? Any plans or time for more new comics?
Rogers: It’s a ton of fun and I’m not going to lie, the good reviews had me sighing in relief. As a long-time gamer and comic reader, I knew I was really fiddling with one of the giants. I’m really looking forward to building out the world and characters after we’ve gotten you hooked on the first few big action issues. Comics are like TV that way, really the modern writer’s only way to do long form storytelling.
O’Shea: Any questions you care to ask your Robot 6/Leverage fans?
Rogers: What do you want your Jeri Ryan/Wil Wheaton spin-off to be?