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Jeri Ryan Talks 'Leverage,' 'Voyager' and More

by Allison Waldman, posted May 25th 2010 9:01AM
Jeri_ryan_timothy_hutton_leverage_TNTJeri Ryan is one of the busiest actresses in television, going from successful series to successful series. Her track record is quite amazing; she's rarely not working.

Earlier this year, she appeared on TNT's 'Leverage' as con artist Tara Cole. Then, during our conversation, she mentioned that she was waiting to hear if her latest pilot was picked up by ABC. It was. She's co-starring with Dana Delany in 'Body of Proof' which will premiere in the fall.

In anticipation of the 'Leverage' season 2 DVD, which hit shelves May 25, Ryan spoke with TV Squad about the show and her multifaceted career.

What was it like stepping into 'Leverage' for the second season?
It's sort of my m.o. I'm kind of the designated pinch hitter. 'Shark' is the only series I ever joined from the pilot on. Every other series I've ever done I've stepped into later. My first series was 'Dark Skies' and I joined during that run. I was in 'Boston Public' starting with season two, 'Star Trek: Voyager' was season four. So I'm used to it.

It's such a lighthearted and clever show. It seems like it was a fun set, was it?
This truly was one of my best jobs ever. It was one my favorite places to work. It truly was. Everything about it, the crew, the cast is amazing, the producers, the writers ... Everybody's a goofball, everybody wants to have fun. It was really, really a great experience. And it was a wonderful character that they gave me to play. It was a win-win situation all around.

The characters on 'Leverage' display a tremendous amount of confidence -- they are con artists, after all -- in all their schemes, which is really delightful to watch ...
Well, it's escape. Especially in times like this with the economy being as bad as it is, people are worried about where the next dollar is coming from. With 'Leverage,' you get to feel that someone is standing up for the little guy, they're making things right for people who have been taken advantage of, they're doing things that a lot of us wish we could do. That feels really satisfying, especially in these times.

Also the quality of the production is first rate, with feature producer Dean Devlin in charge ...
Oh yes, it's very cinematic. The season two finale was like a feature film. It's pretty amazing the feats they pull off. There are amazing production people involved.

The character of Tara wasn't warm and fuzzy. She had a sort of 'I'm in it for myself' quality instead of the dynamic of the team, which is more like they're all Robin Hoods, doing right by people who've been wronged ...
I think it was a great dynamic because it added a little bit of tension to it, because it was like one big happy family before. When you bring in this other element, and like you said, she was in it for herself and out to make a buck -- hopefully as many as possible -- is was something different. Also, she wasn't afraid to tell Nate when she thinks he's being an idiot or when she didn't agree with the way they wanted to do things. It was nice to bring that extra element in there and to watch as they began to appreciate each other, began to respect each other, and even develop some affection for each other.

Is the door open for Tara to come back some time in the future?

Yes, I think the door is open. I think it would be a ball to come back for an episode or two and see everyone again. It would be fun to catch up with that character again. I loved working with those people.

Has your background in beauty pageants helped you to jump into established casts and be comfortable?
I don't know if it has helped me working with people. I think being an Army brat taught me more about that and being adaptable. That was more of an education for me. The beauty pageants helped paid for my years at Northwestern. I was a theater major in college.

seven_of_nine_jeri_ryan_star_trek_voyagerWhat's been your experience as a veteran of a 'Star Trek' series. Are you still invited to conventions?

Oh, absolutely. I still get more fan mail from 'Star Trek' than from any other job I've ever had. There is no fan base like the Trek people. They are incredibly passionate, incredibly loyal. They're a pretty amazing group of people. I actually did my first convention in five or six years just this past year and it was fun just to reconnect with them. It was fun to revisit those times.

What was it about Seven of Nine that made her such a unique character?
It was part of watching her looking at humanity from a different, outside perspective. She was trying to regain her humanity and relearn it, so she was very child-like in a way. That was why I used my son, who was two-and-a-half years old at the time, as a model for the character. She was like a child, watching things, and when I watched the baby, I saw he did the same thing. His reactions were new, like hers. It's an interesting thing to see ourselves from a different perspective and not somebody who's just a different species who's commenting on humanity. She was somebody who had to learn to embrace it herself and learn all the nuances of it.

Seven of Nine was also oblivious of her affect on people from a sexual point of view ...

Absolutely. That was sort of the innocence of the character which was sort of refreshing and fun. Which is very much in contrast to Tara on 'Leverage,' who was incredibly aware of everything and was not at all adverse to using whatever she needed to use to get to a mark. She would use her sexuality and was very comfortable in her skin. That was really fun and refreshing for me to play because I never really played a character like that.

What are you working on now?
I'm also going to Montreal to begin shooting a movie called 'Deadline.' I play a fashion designer. So that should be fun and it's beautiful in Montreal in the summer.

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uncle gibby

Jeri is/was/and always be my favorite. The first time I saw her was in a TV movie with Tori Spelling. Since that introduction, I
have made it a point to be a loyal fan to all of her efforts. She has always added to any project she has been in. "Voyager" was a good spinoff but when she came on as "Seven" it became a classic show. I look forward to her new projects and I hope that she does come back to "Leverage" from time to time. "Resistance... is STILL futile" for me when it comes to Jeri.

May 25 2010 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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