Gina Bellman is grifter Sophie Devereaux on TNT's Leverage, premiering Sunday, Dec. 7, at 10 pm.
It's September 07 and I've just been told that I've landed the much-coveted role of Sophie Devereaux in the new TNT drama, Leverage [premiering Sunday, Dec. 7, at 10 pm/ET]. I am beyond excited, having waited so long for an American part that I like this much and which excites me enough to want to sign up for a potential seven years. I call my friends and family who are just as thrilled, shrieking their congratulations down the phone.
After I've come down to earth, I make a strong cup of tea (I'm British after all), sit down and wonder whether I've informed my manager that my U.S. work visa expired a few months ago. All hell breaks loose, and I step onto a major roller coaster ride! I knew I would qualify for an actor's visa, and had been awarded one in the past (submitting letters of recommendation from actors, directors and producers such as George Clooney, Hugh Grant and Mike Leigh). I already had an immigration file with reviews, press clippings and award details. The big issue was time. Given that Leverage was to start principle photography in just two weeks, the job was "on" then "off" at least four times a day. Lawyers saying my papers couldn't be processed in time, others saying they were doubtful but would give it a go. Me sitting under my kitchen table at three in the morning, 7 pm LA time, loading the printer and scanning documents. The phone ringing constantly, people eager for updates. Commiseration when I heard they had a back-up actress in place, breathless with relief when Dean Devlin rejiggered the schedule to accommodate me. Letters sent to senators and congressmen, hoping for a fast track. If a camera crew had been following me around it would have made for a gripping reality show.
Finally, after sleepless nights and zombie-like days — remember, there was never any news during my day due to the time difference — I found myself lining up at the U.S. Embassy at 5 am one morning, only to be turned away for being one document short. On the day I was supposed to fly to Chicago, my passport was still not in my hand. My savior, a visa specialist called Lisa (who became so determined to help that in one frantic conversation she took my call while she was soaping herself in the shower!) called to say that she had my passport, complete with visa stamp, in her hand.
With only a couple of hours to spare, I told her to jump on the tube (subway) and hurry over. Jubilant and relieved, I glanced outside the window and received an almighty shock. My street had been cordoned off, with fire engines and news crews situated at each end. Tow trucks were hoisting parked cars out of three feet of water. There had been a major water main explosion in my street, resulting in helicopters hovering above and firemen laughing at me when I informed them that a limo was picking me up. They were letting no traffic in or out.
Lisa called to say that the tubes were delayed due to the floods. I told her to get out and run! I located the limo company in NYC (middle of the night there) and told them not to come. I phoned a friend with an SUV and the skill and tenacity to get into my street. He arrived like a knight on a steed just as Lisa burst through the yellow tape waving my passport above her head.
Two hours later, I sat on a plane. I opened the script of Leverage for the first time since I got the job, having been too superstitious to open it before. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was on my way to meet the producer and director. Dean Devlin, show runner John Rogers, my fellow cast, Tim [Hutton], Beth [Riesgraf], Aldis [Hodge] and Christian [Kane], and ultimately, my character, Sophie Devereaux.