Noah Wyle is no stranger to leading a TV series, either in front of or behind the camera. His latest role as Harry Wilson in IMDb TV‘s Leverage: Redemption, however, was a “new challenge” for the veteran actor who’s gone up against everything from medical crises to homicidal aliens. How did he tackle the corporate lawyer turned new con man?
Before the Leverage revival premieres Friday, Noah answered that question and a few others for Crime-TV.com. Why did he want to come aboard the series? Did his directing expertise give him any extra insight into the show’s scripts? And were there any The Librarians in-jokes while he’s once again sharing the screen with Christian Kane? Get the inside scoop in our interview before the series premiere on July 9.
Brittany Frederick: How did you jump into Leverage: Redemption? Because this is a new character and a new universe, but it’s not completely new to you, given that you worked with some of the same people on The Librarians.
Noah Wyle: I looked at it as a new challenge, to see if I could join an existing ensemble and find a way of sliding my voice into the chorus, and make it sound good. I was really excited to go and work on a show that had a real positive ethic behind it right now. I appreciate what Dean Devlin and John Rogers’ sensibility is when they make this show—what they’re trying to do with it, what they’re trying to say with it. I always have. I love that it reverberated so powerfully with audiences that they basically demanded it’s return. The fanbase has grown more since it’s been off TV than when it was on TV.
I think that speaks to a desire for this type of show which you used to find a lot of it on TV—the shows about teams of people doing good to help other people. Then they just suddenly disappeared and everybody kind of focused on edgier, slightly darker programming with a much more cynical narrative. Shows like this I feel are going to be in demand all the more, because they just make you feel good. That’s why Ted Lasso is blowing up like crazy. You just watch it and go wow, that actually made me feel better than when I started, which television doesn’t always do and I wanted to be part of that.
BF: That tone of the series isn’t easy to strike because it does tackle some very serious issues. How does that balance impact what you’re trying to do?
NW: It’s a technical challenge to take a very sophisticated and dark theme, try to weave a comedic storyline through it and not come off insensitive. That is a very difficult thing to do structurally, and Leverage has managed to do it extremely well for almost a hundred episodes. You don’t feel like they’re taking the subject matter lightly; they just don’t take themselves too seriously in their approach to bringing justice to the situation. That balance allows an accessibility to the material and a kind of humanity at the same time.
BF: You direct on Leverage: Redemption in addition to playing Harry. How does your directing experience play into your work as an actor, especially if it’s on the same show?
NW: You don’t want to piss people off too much when you’re acting if you have to direct them the very next week. (laughs) I really enjoy directing. I find it’s the one opportunity you get to work with every different department and see how talented all these different people are that you don’t necessarily get to work with when you’re just on set as an actor.
Dean Devlin assembles an all-star team of talent that come back time and time again to work with him. Randal Groves designed sets with no budget and great vision…When you’re getting to direct, you get to see how these people approach their jobs from the ground floor up. That’s extremely rewarding. That was a huge inducement of getting me to come down and play this year, was to give me opportunities to direct. I loved it.
BF: The show reunites you with Christian Kane, who you spent years working with on The Librarians. Is there any chance that the writers snuck a Librarians in-joke into Leverage?
NW: There are easter eggs all over the place for Leverage fans in this, and maybe a couple for our Librarians fans.
Brittany Frederick has worked 20 years as a professional journalist, reaching millions of readers worldwide with thousands of articles. Her one goal is to meet Jonathan Groff, but she’s sung with Adam Levine and gone 200 MPH with Mario Andretti. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.