A few years ago, actor Christian Kane auditioned for a role in the pilot for a series for The WB called Global Frequency, based on the graphic novel by Briton Warren Ellis, and written and executive produced by John Rogers (Transformers, Catwoman, The Core, Cosby).
Kane didn’t get the job, and the show never made it to series, and The WB went out of business, merging with UPN to form The CW.
But it all led to Kane sitting on a white fake-leather-covered cube in the set for a swanky party in back of an abandoned university decked out to look like an art museum on Election Night, 2008, in Pasadena, Calif.
The occasion is filming for the new TNT series Leverage, which premieres Sunday, Dec. 7 (then moves to its regular night on Tuesday, Dec. 9), executive produced by Rogers, Dean Devlin (of Independence Day and The Librarian franchise fame, who’s self-financing the series through his Electric Entertainment) and Chris Downey.
"When I heard Dean Devlin was involved in it," says Kane, "absolutely I would do it. John and I had worked together before, and he had remembered me from Global Frequency. I tested against Josh Hopkins, and Josh Hopkins got the role.
"When this came around, John had based this role around me. That was unbelievable."
Prior to Leverage, Kane did a stint in the CBS series Close to Home. After leaving that show and the TV industry because he felt "miscast" — although, he says of the production team, "I love them to death and would work with them again" — Kane had returned to Nashville to work on his music career and his band, Kane.
Then the script for Leverage came along.
"The funny thing is," says Kane, "I read the first couple of lines, which were ‘Eliot Spencer, wire-rimmed glasses and sipping tea’…I threw the script across the room. My agent called and said, ‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ I said, ‘It’s not for me.’ He said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Let me take another look at it.’
"Then I go down further, ‘Eliot, wire-rimmed glasses, tea,’ then I see, ’12 guys standing pull guns on him, and he kicks the crap out of everybody.’ I dropped everything, called my agent and said, ‘Get me on a plane right now. Tell them I’m coming in.’ I told Dean and John that story, and they laughed."
Leverage is an action/caper drama with touches of comedy. Timothy Hutton stars as a former insurance investigator that has assembled a team of ne’er-do-wells he used to chase in order to help the little guy or gal fight back against larger forces, whether corporate, legal, governmental or otherwise.
Kane’s Spencer is a "retrieval specialist," who prefers fists to guns and balances his action lifestyle with a fondness for tea and cooking (something he shares with Kane).
"It’s really given me my wings again," Kane says, "restored my faith in TV. I’m just happy they’re letting me do my fights. This guy talks like me, and he’s really mean, and he’s really pissed off. I could play it like Jason Bourne, and then I would never talk on TV, because he’s a man of few words.
"So I rearranged the character, and instead of being quiet and silent and deadly, I’m like B.A. Baracas on The A-Team. I’m just mad at the world and griping all the time."
Before Close to Home, Kane did a memorable turn as morally questionable lawyer Lindsay McDonald in The WB’s Angel, the successful spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon.
"Coming from Joss Whedon," Kane says, "and then going to work with Dean, who has passion, blows stuff up and still puts a lot of heart into the show — it’s just great.
"He’s so creative. It was tough for me leaving Joss Whedon, because not a lot of people have the mind that he does and the creativity and the fun and the make-believe. It’s TV, fer chrissakes, have fun! It doesn’t have to be realistic.
"Dean is the same way. He’s so creative, and he’s got so many ideas. He puts his camera where his mouth is, and it works. It’s been a great ride. I couldn’t ask for more."
In Angel, Kane worked with star David Boreanaz, currently the lead in the FOX comedy/drama Bones.
"I’d love to have Boreanaz come do some stuff (on Leverage)," says Kane, "but I don’t know. He’s busy. I just talked to him the other day. You know, he’s my best friend, has been since before we started Angel."
Ironically, Angel airs weekday mornings on TNT, and a repeat of Bones airs Tuesdays right after Leverage.
"Me and Boreanaz are back together again," Kane says.