Keith David Breaks Down Major Character Connection to [Spoiler]

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Leverage: Redemption Season 2 Episode 6.]

It’s the moment we’d been waiting years for—Hitter Eliot Spencer’s (Christian Kane) reunion with his estranged father on Leverage! It came in the revival, Redemption, and with it came new information about his past.

Eliot spoke about and went to see his father in Leverage Season 5’s “The Low Low Price Job”; no one answered when he knocked on the door. Then in Redemption Season 1’s “The Bucket Job,” he once again failed to connect with his dad. But that changes in Season 2. The two reunite as part of the crew’s latest job, and everyone learns that Eliot was adopted — and his father, Billy, is played by Keith David!

Like father, like son, Billy also helps people; in this case, he and the crew work to take down a corrupt politician who’s profiting off a fracking rig that’s making the town’s residents sick. Not only do they succeed — and Billy works with them and fights alongside Eliot — but the father and son also talk about the distance between them. Eliot enlisted against his father’s wishes (but did so because he wanted to be like him), then he wasn’t allowed to come home for his mother’s funeral. He came home to tell Billy he was sorry.

At the end of the episode, Billy tells Eliot he’s proud of him. “We wasted a lot of good years,” Eliot says, but his dad points out they still have some ahead of them. “You may not have got a medal for what you did [helping people escape a prison camp], but in the eyes of all the guys you saved, you’re a hero, and for what it’s worth, in my eyes too,” Eliot tells him.

David discusses that big reveal and filming the episode.

How much did you know about the character when you first signed on?

Keith David: I hear that you, like me, are an avid fan of Leverage. I’ve watched every episode, all five seasons, and I love all the people, and I did have a special affection for Eliot. I think Christian Kane is a wonderful actor, and I love the way he plays Eliot. When I got this opportunity, I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled. It’s a wonderful reveal, and I think relationships like this happen more often than not. I love stories about fathers and sons, and I especially love healing stories about fathers and sons. We don’t get to explore that enough in our society.

This story, in its own way, is a kind of mentorship and [about] how to repair these rifts, [which] do occur between fathers and sons, and there is a mode of healing. There is a way to heal these things, but you gotta speak about it; you gotta be there. I applaud Dean Devlin for going after it. And again, Christian Kane, the way he played it, I thought was just wonderful. It was great playing with him. I had a really wonderful time.

Talk about working with Christian on that father-son relationship because there are so many layers to it before we even see it on screen, and then, especially in this episode.

Christian is a really wonderful actor. I really have a lot of respect for him. We talked to Dean a little bit about some of the nuances of the relationship, but it was also on the page, at least for this actor. When it’s on the page, it’s not difficult to play and then to layer on top because then you look at what’s not on the page and what’s not being said and some of the nuances.

I think it was a lovely moment when finally, after being angry and hurt really that my son didn’t listen to me when it was finally revealed why he disobeyed me; for me, it was touching. And then, at the end, when he tells him, I’m proud of you because if you hadn’t made that choice, you wouldn’t have been here to do what you do, and that’s the man that I really wanted you to be, somebody who could help somebody.

There was so much like father, like son about these two characters. Yes, we had those emotional moments, but then there was the fighting…

[Laughs] That was fun. I come from a stage fighting background, but one of the great fights that I’ve had on screen from They Live, it just reminded me it’s going back to my days with Roddy Piper. And Christian is a fantastic martial artist. He’s just phenomenal, and watching him do that, let alone being able to execute it with him, was a special treat.

Looking at the emotional moments, the episode didn’t ignore what it was like when Billy was in the military and that he wasn’t the one recognized as a hero … but then we did get that really sweet moment of Eliot telling him he’s a hero in his eyes.

It touched me. And again, the way he played it was just wonderfully revealing. We, as men, tend not to be as revealing to ourselves amongst ourselves. And I think it was a wonderful moment of them both saying “I love you” without having to say “I love you.”

And that’s something they needed.

It was something they both needed, and it’s something in our society that we as men need from each other, especially from our fathers, because of whatever good or bad standards that force us not to say it or feel like we cannot say it. It doesn’t get said, and we need love as much as any daughter in the house. Fathers and sons need love as much as mothers and daughters.

How is Billy feeling about the father-son relationship at the end of the episode as Eliot goes off to keep doing what he does?

And he’s proud of that. I think their relationship hereafter will be better because now he does have the ability to come back when he wants to. He has the ability to come back when he’s needed. It’s not like when he was in the military, and he was doing covert operations and was not able to, and that hadn’t been communicated. Now the channels of communication have been opened — and I think wonderfully opened.

Does that mean we’ll see you again this season?

That’s above my pay grade. But I hope so. [Laughs]

I want to see Billy get in on another con because I think he could do a good job working with the team.

I agree with you. Write the network and tell Dean.

What kind of role do you think he would have with the team? Hitter alongside Eliot?

I think he certainly could be. He could be part of the muscle when he had to be, but I think he could also be a good covert con artist.

Yeah, I could see him becoming a Grifter and working alongside Sophie (Gina Bellman). I think that would be fun.

Yes, I think that would be a great combo.

What was your favorite scene to film?

I loved the fight scene, but as I said, I love the first reveal when it’s like, “I wanted you to be so much more. My chances were taken, but what I wanted for you…” because it reveals what we as parents want for our children is more than we had for ourselves. When my opportunity as a football player was taken away by injury, I didn’t want that to happen to him because he had a chance. As a parent, you feel like that’s a thrown-away opportunity.

But God works in mysterious ways, and the course that Eliot’s life took for him to be — he didn’t have to be a football hero, but he certainly is a hero in the eyes of the people who know him. We tend to measure great men by big statues, big buildings, or big bank accounts, but sometimes a great man is just in what he does. And by virtue of what he does and the way he does it, Eliot is a great man.

Leverage: Redemption, Wednesdays, Amazon Freevee

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