Christian Kane Of 'Leverage' Discusses His Bad-Ass Character Eliot Spencer And More
Mike: Hi Christian!
Christian Kane: Awesome! How are you doing, Mike?
Mike: Pretty good! You know, [your character] Eliot's a martial arts expert. Do you have any training in that? I just watched the episode that airs [tonight, July 22] with the mixed martial arts fighting. That looks hard.
Christian Kane: (Laughs) That's so awesome you saw that before the interview. No, I grew up a wrestler; for a long time in Oklahoma I was a wrestler. When I grew up, if you were a wrestler, you won the fight. Now they've got these different things: Jujitsu and all of these other skills people have incorporated into it. But, like I said, when you get in a bar fight and you were a wrestler -- which I did -- you won the fight. I used to laugh at people who were like, "Oh, I take Karate at the Y." And I'm like, "I'm going to take the leg anyway. If you want to hand it to me, that's your business."
Mike: (Laughing) Right...
Christian Kane: You know what I'm saying? Wrestling was the staple. But, no, I don't have any martial arts training. I wish I did, man. I wish I had taken it seriously when I was a kid but I was a wrestler and I did take that seriously. So, you know, it's just bar fights and keeping your eyes open and paying attention.
Mike: Well, [tonight's] a great episode. It got pretty intense during the "YOU'VE TAKEN THE SAFETY OFF THE GUN" scene.
Christian Kane: Yeah (laughs), you'll have to thank Gina Bellman for that one. Yeah, it was pretty great. And you know: I'm up here is Portland and not only do I fight a UFC legend -- which is Matt Lindland -- he's Portland's own. So me and Matt hung out a lot. We went to Matt's gym and trained to lead up to it and stuff like that and me and Matt choreographed the whole fight ... I'm actually the one who got hit. Matt gave me a little chin music accidentally (laughs). I don't know how those guys do it; I don't know how they come out and physically, really fight somebody, because I was about to throw up.
Mike: It's kind of cool that you got hit because that's something to brag about. Not everyone can say they've been hit by a UFC fighter before.
Christian Kane: That's what I've said! And I didn't want to say it again but that's the honest-to-god-truth, I use that all the time. Not even just my friends...
Mike: I'd tell everyone that.
Christian Kane: Exactly. And it was a dead on connect ... my nose got a little bit bloody to be honest with you. I'm trying to suck it in so it doesn't drip on him because I'm actually on top of him at that point. I remember thinking, "Matt Lindland just punched me in the face and I'm still standing here talking about it."
Mike: I don't blame you at all. If that would have happened to me, even when this interview first began and we were introduced...
Christian Kane: "Hey Man, this is great, I love you and all but I gotta be honest with you: I just got hit by Matt Lindland." (Laughs).
Mike: Right! You could be promoting anything: "Ice Age," "Ugly Betty," whatever. That's the first thing I'd say. "Nice to meet you, I was punched once by a UFC fighter."
Christian Kane: That's what I'm doing for the rest of the day! "How are you doing? This is Christian Kane, thank you so much. I have to start this conversation by saying that I got hit by Matt Lindland."
Mike: You mentioned growing up in Oklahoma. You're originally from Texas, right? Did you move to Oklahoma when you were young?
Christian Kane: Yeah, I was born in Texas. We went back and forth. Daddy was in the oil business so we went back and forth. We landed in Oklahoma when I was in about the seventh or eighth grade...
Mike: That makes sense. I know you went to the University of Oklahoma and I thought there was a law preventing Texans from attending.
Christian Kane: I went to Norman High then I walked across the street after that and went to college. That's my home town, that's where I'm from. Physically I'm a Texan, but I'm an Oklahoman.
Mike: That's funny because [tonight's] episode takes place in Nebraska?
Christian Kane: Yeah, that's tough for me. It's funny because Matt Lindland -- this whole thing's going to be about Matt -- but he was a wrestler for Nebraska. He came back and he was one of the coaches for Nebraska for years. That rivalry has been dead since 87 or 89. I think Nebraska's coming back ... the days of Charles Thompson and [Tommy] Frazier -- he was the quarterback for Nebraska back when they were always number one or two...
Mike: It's funny because this conversation has drifted into Big XII Conference talk...
Christian Kane: Don't ask a Sooner to start talking about ball ... where'd you go?
Mike: (Laughs) Another Big XII school, University of Missouri -- Mizzou.
Christian Kane: OK, there you go. Well, shit man. You guys have just come up. You had a bad time with it there for awhile but you guys are back, man. You guys have some really good stuff going on. It's getting to be embarrassing for us. Three National Championships we've dropped in the last, like, five years. It's just a nightmare.
Mike: Well, Oklahoma has beaten Missouri the last two years in the Big XII Championship games so I don't feel too sorry for the Oklahoma program.
Christian Kane: You guys really honestly deserved to be there a couple times. Anyway man, that's Big XII Football, baby! Football is my base, that's were I learned to be tough. I was a strong safety and that's what I do: I hit people. The mentality is football, the wrestling is precision. Eliot's a linebacker, that's what he is.
Mike: Speaking of Eliot, are we going to learn more about his back story this season?
Christian Kane: I don't know, man, to be honest with you. That's a question for [creator] John Rogers. Right now I don't have anything. I said this last year: Until they write something for me I'm just going to keep hitting people.
Mike: (Laughs) That's a great line.
Christian Kane: (Laughs) It really is. John got a kick out of that and he was like, "That makes sense." If you've talked to John Rogers before -- I don't know if you have -- but the sci-fi geek... he's so fricking smart and unbelievably talented and funny. You always smile when you get a John Rogers script because you're in for an hour of entertainment.
Mike: I have some questions from readers and the first one made me laugh because Eliot is anti-gun. Once again he's surrounded, he's going to get into a big fight. Here's the way the question is worded (from Irene in St. Louis): Do you ever wish you could have an Indiana Jones moment and just shoot the guy and move on?
Christian Kane: (Laughs) That's a great question. I'm going to answer it like this: That's so funny you said that and I have a couple of Indiana Jones moments on this one but I do it without the gun. I do it with my gun which is my right [fist]. It's funny you said that but you know what: I don't. I love the fact that Eliot doesn't use guns because I'm a gun owner -- I shot my first deer when I was ten. I like the fact this guy's not a gun owner; his two guns are on his arms. If I did have a gun, it wouldn't be "Leverage." A guy could pull out a gun and it's one bullet and it's done; I have to totally unload. I have to fire every bullet in both guns and that makes for good TV I think.
I base this character on B.A. Baracus; I base it on the legendary Mr. T. I'm dead serious. Jason Bourne: I'm a big fan of that series but it's boring for television. You can't do Jason Bourne because you would just run around all the time and not talk to anybody and just stand there, then beat somebody up. And I was like, "this is not a good character so what am I going to do?" And I said, "I'm just going to make him mad at the world. I'm going to use Mr. T -- who I'm a huge fan of, always have been." This whole character is based on Mr. T's character of B.A. Baracus. I just said, "I'm going to be mad at everybody. If someone drops a fork it pisses Eliot off."
Mike: Is there ever going to be a scene where they have to drug you to get you on a plane?
Christian Kane: (Laughs) That's actually real life; I hate flying. No, but that would be funny. Na, I can't do that now because we were already on a plane and we almost went down (laughs).
Mike: We're almost out of time but (Brenda from Cincinnati) wants to know if your music will ever show up on the show or be a part of a con?
Christian Kane: Yeah, it will be. They're working on it right now. I don't know if it's going to be this season to be honest with you and what a great question. John Rogers answered that question for me a couple of weeks ago and said that we may not be able to get to it this year. But, I have a trick up my sleeve -- and I can't tell you about it or I'd have to kill you -- but I have a very good friend in the music business and I may call him to do some stuff and see if that prompts them to do that. Because I really want to take down a record company after what Sony did to me and the fans. They screwed the fans. Three years of my life I worked on this but I don't want to get into that...
But we're going to do something I just don't know if it will be this season. What I'm doing right now is I have my hands together and I'm praying the numbers [last week] tolled up and we did well enough to do a third season ... We love this show.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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