Voyager’s Jeri Ryan Returns to Leverage
This January, Leverage returns with six new episodes starting where they left off with the introduction of Jeri Ryan’s character Tara. The actress who is best known for her role as Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager is filling in for Gina Bellman who left the show to have a baby. On screen, Tara is filling the grifter shoes of Sophie who has gone off to Europe in order to sort out her feelings for Nate.
In honor of the show’s return, Jeri Ryan sat down with reporters to talk about being the new kid on the block, her love of TV and the most adventurous thing she’s ever done. Listen in.
What was it like stepping into Leverage mid-way through the series?
Jeri: I grew up as an Army brat, we always moved around, I was always the new kid. So this is kind of old hat for me. I joke that I’m the designated pinch hitter for TV series because Shark is the only show that I’ve ever been with from the very beginning, from the pilot. My first series was Dark Sky that was added in the middle of that season. Boston Public I was added Season 2, Star Trek Season 4. So this was, you know, it’s nothing new for me to walk in, in the middle of a thing.
How did the cast respond to having a new member of the team?
Jeri: They’re so warm and funny and just a bunch of goof balls. And so it’s amazing that we actually got anything accomplished ever because all we did was sit around and laugh at each other. 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, you know, obviously you can’t replace a character. You can’t – and we weren’t looking to. This was, you know, a temporary substitute while she was going on maternity leave.
You’ve worked on a lot of TV shows. Do you prefer doing TV over movies?
Jeri: 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, you know, sitting around between takes one day and 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. And I was like okay, yeah. 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.
Your character is pretty adventurous. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Jeri: Oh, I’ve got to admit she’s a lot more adventurous than I am. The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done – I guess it’s not that adventurous by most people’s standards but I’ve cooked in a restaurant kitchen during service behind the line during dinner. And that was the single biggest adrenaline rush I’ve ever gotten in my entire life. It was amazing. In every way terrifying, absolutely terrifying and so exciting and exhausting and muscles hurt that you didn’t know you had. By the time you finished service and it’s, you know, four or five hours of straight intense, hard, fast work you are – I was bouncing off the walls. I mean it was midnight, 12:30 and I was literally I was so excited I couldn’t even sit down. It was really fun.
So I presume that you enjoy cooking?
Jeri: I love it. But cooking at home and cooking in a restaurant are two entirely different beasts. I mean, the stress level – it’s really intense in a restaurant kitchen because it’s speed. Everything has to be done, done, done, done, done really fast. And of course it has to be perfect because it’s going out to the public. But it was so exciting. It was so much fun. So I actually did that every Sunday just for fun while I was working on Boston Public. That’s how I met my husband in fact. Yeah. I did that for a year. I cooked every Sunday in a restaurant kitchen just for fun. So that’s about as adventurous as I get.
Any chance we’ll ever see you go back to doing Sci-Fi again?
Jeri: Yeah. I think there’s a chance you’ll see me do Sci-Fi. (Sounds like there was a wink in that last answer.)
Catch Jeri Ryan, Christian Kane, Aldis Hodge, Tim Hutton, Beth Riesgraf on Leverage. The second half of the season begins on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:00 on TNT.
Photos: TNT /Darren Michaels