… Jeri Ryan, Actor
In “The Lost Heir Job,” Leverage fans were introduced to Tara Carlisle, a savvy new grifter sent by Sophie to fill in while she was away from the team. In the six remaining episodes of Season 2, beginning tonight, Wednesday, January 13 at 10 PM, Tara joins the Leverage team as they attempt a whole new set of cons. Jeri Ryan (Shark, Star Trek: Voyager), who plays Tara, joined us to talk about her role in the six spring episodes.
TTC: How do you approach joining an established ensemble? Obviously this is something you’ve done a couple of times, with Dark Skies, Boston Public, and Star Trek?
JR: Well you know what, I grew up as an Army brat so I was always the new kid. We always moved around. So this, again, this is kind of old hat for me. You just have to be very respectful. This is their home turf. You know, this is a group that’s very tightly knit and they’ve been together for a year and a half at that point already. And obviously you can’t replace a character. You can’t – and we weren’t looking to. This was a temporary substitute while she was going on maternity leave.
So you just have to be very sensitive. It’s going to be awkward for people. It’s going to be, you know, you’re the new kid. You have to – you have to just be open to how they do things and sort of flesh out what the rhythm on the set is and what their working style is. And fortunately with this group, like I said, they’re a bunch of goof balls so it was really easy.
TTC: As popular as Gina Bellman is, in coming in and even on a temporary basis replacing her, was it challenging to you at all?
JR: It’s not more of a challenge as an actor. It’s the same. You’re creating a character. You want the audience to accept her. You want her to be believable. You want to do a good job as an actor. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re replacing a character, adding a new character, replacing somebody who’s popular or not popular. So it doesn’t change your work to develop the character but it’s just a little more pressure I think.
TTC: You’ve done a lot of TV in your career. Is that something that you enjoy doing or just kind of how your career has worked out?
JR: I do enjoy doing it. I’ve done a couple of features and I’ve got to say it was tough. The pace is kind of mind numbing because in TV I’m used to doing – especially back in the day when I was on Star Trek those were seven and eight page days – script pages. That’s a lot. A feature film is about two pages a day. So you’re basically working on one scene all day long whether that’s a 14 hour day or a 16 hour day. It’s one scene.
And so I remember asking Renee Zellweger when we were shooting Down With Love and we were sitting around between takes one day, I said “How do you do this if you’ve got a big emotional scene?” And she said you just have to sit in it. You just live in it all day. You’re in your trailer by yourself and you just have to stay in that space.
I like the pace of TV. It’s a lot more comfortable for me. And I know that’s hard for feature people who are so used to doing features. When they come into television they can’t stand it because they feel like it’s too fast and you don’t have enough time to whatever – enough different takes and enough time to explore things. But that’s the pace that I’m used to and I’m more comfortable with it.
TTC: Is there a particular project or role that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to tackle someday?
JR: Well, I always said Hamlet was my dream role. But I, you know, I’ve been pretty lucky. I mean there’s not really a specific thing.
I will say that that’s one of the things that I loved about this character in Leverage. She is so different from what I’ve gotten to play. She is funny and she is more street savvy and she is much less buttoned up than some of the characters I’ve played. I get to show that side of my sense of humor and that side of my personality which is a lot of fun. That’s very refreshing. You know, she’s not a lawyer wearing a suit in a courtroom.
And I don’t know. I mean I’ve been really lucky to have gotten to do a lot of really beautifully written rich characters. So yeah, I can’t really say that there’s something [specific] that I haven’t gotten to do. I’ve been very lucky that way I think.
TTC: As a Star Trek fan I have to ask: any chance we’ll ever see you go back to doing sci-fi again?
JR: Yeah. I think there’s a chance you’ll see me do sci-fi.
Many thanks to Jeri for her time! The final six episodes of Leverage’s sixth season, featuring Jeri Ryan, start Wednesday, January 13th at 10 PM on TNT.
Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer