Christian Kane is the real deal: He does his own stunts as Leverage's brawny badass Eliot Spencer, the character on the TNT drama who does the "heavy lifting" for a merry band of modern-day misfit vigilantes who con crooks to help the helpless.
"As of right now they haven't given Eliot a love interest," the actor says of his ladies' man character. "And until they do, I'm just going to keep hitting people."
"Hitting people" is the focus of tomorrow's all-new Eliot-centric ep, "The Tap-Out Job," where Christian shows off his mad fighting skillz in a professional martial-arts con...
"I Do My Own S--t": The show's about con artists, but Christian's fight scenes are authentic. But why in God's name does this man do all his own stunts?
"My favorite actor is Steve McQueen, and he did his own stunts." Even as the (mostly) evil, ambitious attorney Lindsey McDonald on the WB series Angel, reveals Christian, "Most of the time I was fighting stunt coordinator Mike Massa, who was David Boreanaz's double for Angel. Mike trusted me enough to do my own stunts."
Doesn't he get hurt? "I've been to the hospital twice this year on Leverage," the hard-hitting actor admits, "and I wouldn't be surprised if I go back three or four times...But that's the beauty of it. They don't have to cut the camera away. I can literally beat someone from the back and turn around, and it's me. You're not going to see fight scenes like you do on Leverage."
In fact, in tomorrow's ep, Christian's in the ring with professional mixed martial-arts fighters Ed Herman and Matt Lindland. Kane tells us, "I got a thumbs-up from Matt. He said, 'This pretty boy, p--sy actor knows how to fight.' And to me, that's better than winning the Academy Award—to have these fighters say I did a good job."
"I Pity the Fool...": Why, exactly, is Eliot so pissed off? "You've seen E be in prison camps. I think he went through a lot of torture. It didn't break him—obviously, because he's still here—but it just made him mad at the rest of the world. If someone's stabbing you with a pin, first you go ow, then you go stop and then you hit the motherf--ker. This is his stage in life where he gets to hit people. So is Eliot's much-talked-about long hair part of his tough-guy persona? "I have long hair because I'm American Indian. I'm an Oklahoma boy, and I'm very proud of my heritage." And this season, Kane even has braids in his hair—"with beads in 'em!"
"I based this character on B.A. Baracus—Mr. T in the A-Team—because he's pissed off at everything. You drop a fork, and he's mad. Mr. T has a Mohawk and the gold chain, so I've got the long hair, and now I've got braids. There's nobody on television who's gonna look like me."
Shaken, Not Stirred: We saw a softer side of ladies' man when Eliot reunited with his high school love, Aimee Martin (Jaime Ray Newman), but will Cupid strike again? Probably not, at least this season. Christian explains: "The tough thing about Eliot is that he doesn't have a heart"—or hasn't since he left Aimee and Kentucky. "It's gonna be fun over the course of this season" for both his character and Parker. "These two people don't have hearts, but Nate [Timothy Hutton] has given them a heartbeat again. It's a little uncomfortable for both of them because they are starting to care about people. But Eliot in a sense is still going to be the James Bond of the show...It's not so much about love, as it is about beautiful women."
Stake Outing: Kane may play the "dumb person on the show," but the actor is savvy enough to recognize vampire-inspired name changes. "Juliet Landau's a really great friend of mine. I just talked to her the other day. She's a sweetheart. I love her, love her to death." So do we. Obvs.
Leverage airs Wednesday at 9 on TNT.