LEVERAGE: Dean Devlin on the Series Finale, That Final Scene, Sophie’s Real Name, and More
December 28, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
LEVERAGE said its bittersweet goodbye this week as TNT aired “The Long Goodbye Job”…but if the people behind the show have their way, the story may not be totally over.
I spoke with LEVERAGE executive producer Dean Devlin about the series finale, if the show has a life beyond TNT, and more…
How are you doing right now? Has it sunk in that LEVERAGE as we know it seems to be over?
Dean Devlin: I mean, listen, I’ve got a whole bunch of stories I would like to have told, and I’m going to miss like crazy this cast and crew and the writers, but I’m very happy we got to make the 77 episodes. And I’m really happy we got to end it properly. So for me, it was a very fulfilling experience.
I know the cancellation news broke a bit later on Friday night, but did you get the chance to talk to the cast and crew before it spread?
DD: I did. I called the cast right away, and I wasn’t able to get a hold of everyone, but I was able to email them and they were able to call me back the next day. And it’s a bit heartbreaking, because we have such a family and we do so enjoy meeting up in Portland and jumping into this crazy caravan. But at the same time, everyone felt really grateful we got to conclude this, because we’ve all been on this run together. It was very bittersweet few days before Christmas.
The timing wasn’t the greatest.
DD: It wasn’t and it was. It wasn’t good timing in that it was sad news, but on the other hand, it really was a gift. And to give that gift to the fans on Christmas was poetic.
So, speaking of the finale, was “The Rundown Job” earlier in the season a bit of a test to see if LEVERAGE could work without the characters of Nate and Sophie?
DD: Well, I mean, partially we thought both with that and the [separate] episode with Tim [Hutton (Nate)] and Gina [Bellman (Sophie)], could either of these work as a spinoff? But how they were created was to explore the ending. We wanted to know when you got to the finale, what they’d be off doing. That Tim and Gina were off solving murder mysteries and the kids were off solving big adventures. So we wanted to plant that in your mind so when they separated in the end, it wasn’t this horrible idea. It was, “I can see what happens.”
We’ve seen how fun it could be…it’s not as traumatic as the complete unknown for these guys.
DD: Yeah. You get the idea that they will continue to have adventures, even separately.
Were you surprised by how fast people seemed to embrace the idea of LEVERAGE: INTERNATIONAL?
DD: Listen, I just think the fans don’t want this show to go away. I don’t blame them; I don’t, either. Who knows, maybe another network will want it and give me a call. At the moment I’m just grateful for this experience. It lasted longer than I could have hoped. I’m so damn proud of these episodes. I never thought we’d get so many in the can that I thought were really good.
The fan support has really been shocking, even from the beginning. We never expected that on a show like this — this is the kind of fandom you normally get with a fantasy show or a science-fiction show. The level of intensity of love and support from the fans has been tremendous. And it’s also why we felt we had this responsibility to end the show properly.
You mentioned another network. I know some fans are hoping for that, but how realistic is that at this point?
DD: I think it’s a long shot. I think the show had done well, but it hadn’t done spectacularly well. It was a profitable show, it was a show that would make another network money, but, again, it’s not often that you see shows move from one network to another. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for it, but hey, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Since it is over for now, is there any thought of continuing the story on with comics or TV movies, or anything like that?
DD: All doors are open. The first LEVERAGE novel just came out and we certainly want to do more of those. But the lovely thing is this show was done by us. There’s no studio involved; we own the show. So, we could do whatever we like with it in the future. There’s no door closed. if the right opportunity comes forward — if it’s a movie of the week, a feature film, or a web series, who knows? If the right opportunity comes our way, we’ll be open to it.
Good to hear. I know you crafted the final episode as the series finale just in case, but were there any things you might have put in if you knew for sure the show wouldn’t be returning?
DD: We had a trunk-load of stories…there’s still a lot of bad guys we never took down. [Laughs] And they keep popping up! And every time they pop up, we go, “Oh, I could think of a good LEVERAGE episode for that guy.
There’s a whole lot of backstory stuff we didn’t get to explore. We had just started to hint what was going on between Eliot and his father. One day, I’d love to tell that story because we have great stuff there. There’s a whole lot of stuff we’d love to get to that we didn’t get the chance to get to. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s best not to tell every story.
Sometimes it’s nice to let the fans have their own threads to play with.
DD: The fanfiction has always been the most interesting anyway, so we’ll see what they come up with!
Speaking of fan, well, questions, Sophie’s real name had been teased for years…and then you guys semi-answered it for a brief moment. Do you want to say whether we’ve ever heard Sophie’s real name on the show?
DD: Nope! [Laughs] I will let the fans interpret that and decide if that was her real name or not.
Fair enough! Was there any debate on who should give that final LEVERAGE speech?
DD: Well, I’ll tell you, there was a lot of discussion about it, but the concept of it actually happened during the shooting of the pilot. While we were shooting the pilot, [LEVERAGE co-creator] John Rogers turned to me and said, “If this thing goes, here’s how I’d ultimately like to end the show.” And he basically pitched me [the finale]. And every year, we’d say, how much closer do we want to get to in the development of our characters for the finale to work? And each year we’d push it a little farther in that direction. But the concept was always for Parker to take over that team.
That’s kind of incredible, given how much she had to grow.
DD: It’s ultimately, what is the show about? It’s about a group of truly dysfunctional loners who have great skills. Who come together and form a family. The question of the growth every year was can this family work, and will they benefit from this family? So the hope was when you saw this finale, you were able to juxtapose it and see they’ve all come a long way and they’ve all really benefited from each other.
There were an incredible amount of parallels. Was there anything you had hoped to juxtapose that didn’t make the final cut?
DD: Nope. We tried to get in all of the references we could. We went back to the above shot of the circle, which we hadn’t done in a long time. So there was a whole lot of stuff we tried to callback just so the audience could put it side-by-side and say, this is familiar, but they are so different now.
If the show did move forward, were you planning on doing the series without the characters of Nate and Sophie?
DD: You know, we had every possibility [out there]. It could have been one or the other. It could have been alternating between where one episode was the kids and one episode was Sophie and Nate. We could have found some way to reunite them again. We really didn’t know. We didn’t know what we were going to do, how it was going to play out. We didn’t know if we did get a season, if it would be a full season, if it would be a movie of the week, would it be nothing. We didn’t spend too much time thinking about it. We just knew we had a bunch of stories we were able to tell and then we’d have to figure out how to tell them with what format and with what characters. But we really didn’t spend a whole lot of time on it. Our concern was ending this year properly. And then we thought, if we get picked up, as John Rogers always likes to say, “That’s a 20 minutes from now problem.”
Are you happy with LEVERAGE’s series finale? Or do you miss the show already?