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May 27

Gina Bellman, Timothy Hutton TNT photo

Television series creators who make the most of sexual tension between characters always take a risk when they decide to bring their long-lusting couples together — which is just what happened at the end of Timothy Hutton’s “Leverage” last season.  Viewers got a surprise when it turned out that Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) was hidden under the covers of his character, Nate Ford’s bed.  But Hutton says their furtive romance has brought a whole different tension to the hit drama about an elite team of modernday Robin Hoods that returns to the TNT lineup June 26.

“When last we left Sophie and Nate, they were in that hotel room in San Lorenzo.  So when we start off this season, they have to figure out how to tell the team they’re seeing each other, whether it’s a good idea or bad idea to tell the team.  They decide it’s a bad idea.  Then they have to wonder whether other members of the team know.  And it’s very sticky for Nate and Sophie, how to define the relationship, how it’s going to interfere with the work.  We’re dealing with it in very kind of awkwardly funny moments.”

That is not to say that “Leverage” has any less of its usual quotient of capers.   For instance, Leon Rippy of “Saving Grace” and “Deadwood” “comes in and plays a very shadowy character who, it turns out, has been aware of the Leverage team’s every move.  The team doesn’t know how to classify him.  What is it he wants?  There’s a whole arc involving him,” Hutton says.

As far as special episodes on the way, “There’s a story about a human heart being carried through an airport that gets stolen by someone to be put on the black market for organs.  The Leverage team has to come in and save the day so the proper recipient gets it.  That episode is being done in real time, because obviously there is only a finite amount of time that the organ is viable.  It’s the ultimate ticking clock.”
This is the third year the “Leverage” company has worked in Oregon, and “I love it here,” he volunteers.  “I live here six months of the year.  It really is quite a family up here.”

Hutton’s younger son, Milo, joins him whenever he has a break from his school in Paris, where he lives part-time with his mother (Hutton’s former wife, illustrator Aurore Giscard d’Estaing).  As for whether he’s likely to follow his dad into show business?  “He’s nine, so I just hope he gets interested in as many things as possible.  He loves being on the set right now.  He’s also a big ‘Harry Potter’ fan, a big ‘Indiana Jones’ fan.  He’s into sports, too.”

Elder son Noah, from Hutton’s first marriage, to Debra Winger, “is already doing quite well in his own career as a documentary filmmaker,” says Hutton.  He’s a music composer-editor-filmmaker-writer — very comfortable behind the camera.  I don’t think he’ll be going out in front of it.  I’m very proud of him.”

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