iF magazine did an interview with the writers of Leverage and they had a lot to say about Jeri and her character, Tara.
iF: How long did it take to develop Jeri Ryan’s character Tara?
ROGERS: We knew we needed a grifter. Once we found out Gina was pregnant, we knew she would be super-pregnant in the middle of the season and we couldn’t have her running away from explosions and stuff. We like her and we want her to have her baby. But it’s funny, because she would have done it, by the way. As you saw in the finale, she was going down staircases I wouldn’t go down. She was seven and half/eight months pregnant at the time!
So TNT talked to us about actors they liked and we liked Jeri and talked to her, and that very much drove the character on that.
DOWNEY: And she fit in so well.
iF: Why did you shoot her origin story out of order? Just so you could get a grasp on her origin?
ROGERS: “The Runaway Job” script was just ready first.
DOWNEY: We had Jeri, John was in Portland, I was here, Dean was in Portland, but we didn’t have everyone in one room together to figure out what her back story was. So the decision was, let’s just start with her second episode.
ROGERS: We knew what her problems would be in the first episode and so the second episode would be integration problems and trust issue problems. We could write that. And when I came back, Chris had the idea for “The Lost Heir.”
DOWNEY: And John had the idea of “why don’t we have her con the team.” So once we had that, it worked.
ROGERS: On other shows, they get a writing assignment, they go off to their office and write. This show happens in the writers room. That’s its gift and purpose.
iF: Initially Jeri’s character polarized fans, but by the end of the season, everyone loved her.
ROGERS: Of course it’s going to be that way. Television is, “I’m inviting you people into my home every night.” Then it’s “here’s a new person, I didn’t ask for this person.” Would you be happy if someone just brought someone new to dinner? That’s the response TV fans have to new characters. We knew, they’re not going to like her, she’s going to get a couple good episodes, and they’re going to like her, because she’s a good actor. That’s how it works.
iF: What do you think Jeri brought to the team?
ROGERS: We had talked about moving the show into the crime world, which we’re doing in Season Three, which is in this black money, black market world. And Jeri has a set of shoulders on her. It looks like she can take a punch, she’s a little tougher and a little more physical and she helped us bring that vibe to the show. And also, when she went soft, like in the psychic episode, you saw what a good grifter she was.