Leslie Hope, <EM>Runaway</EM> Leslie Hope, Runaway
Leslie Hope and Elisha Cuthbert were two of the first actors I interviewed for TVGuide.com, back in 2002, during the debut season of a little-show-that-could called

24. Coincidentally, I was slated to talk with each of the "Bauer women" again this week, but one of them "politely passed" at the last minute. The actress I now like a bit more is Ms. Hope, who called me from the set of Runaway, a CW drama debuting Sept. 25, and concerning a family that assumes a new identity while Dad (Donnie Wahlberg) tries to unravel a massive conspiracy that framed him for murder back home.

TVGuide.com: I'm glad you called, Leslie, especially seeing as how your "daughter" blew me off today....
Leslie Hope: You know what? She's not my daughter in real life it was only pretend so I have no responsibility for her actions.

TVGuide.com: So you can't send her to her room on my behalf?
Hope: [Laughs] No.

TVGuide.com: I'm looking at our previous interview, which posted the day of 24's Season 1 finale, and I now realize in retrospect that you failed to tip me off that you were dying that night!
Hope: Well, that's correct. [Chuckles] But if you read it, you'll find that I didn't lie. I was very careful never to lie; I just didn't tell the whole story. Someone would say, "Isn't it great you're picked up for a second season?" and I would say things like, "The cast is really excited." I was very, very careful about that.

TVGuide.com: What would have been the penalty for blabbing?
Hope: I think I would have been killed. No, I have my own personal moral penalty about telling the truth, so it was very challenging for me navigating those last couple of months. And I went to Europe shortly after that for the television festival in Monte Carlo, and the show was just hitting there, so that was really a dance of lies. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Now here you are again in harm's way, on Runaway.
Hope: Yes, yes, although I'm in harm's way with a partner [this time], since I'm happily married to Donnie Wahlberg's character. And we're a family on the run, so at least we're all in it together.

TVGuide.com: Did you have any hesitation about playing another wife in perpetual peril?
Hope: I had no hesitation about working with Donnie Wahlberg, I can tell you that. And I had no hesitation based on the script. I had terrific advice leaving 24, which I have really tried to stick to. [Coexecutive producer] Stephen Hopkins told me to "follow the writing," and everything else would fall into place. That's what I've been trying to do, with varying levels of success, but I really like the script for this.

TVGuide.com: The roles you take are also probably a testament to an inner strength you exude.
Hope: Perhaps. Also, and not to make too big a deal of it, but what I think 24 did is something I see echoes of in other shows. It's not unusual now to see a show that plays in a serial-time format, or uses that kind of... of....

TVGuide.com: "Family in jeopardy" hook?
Hope: Yes. A "family thriller" is the catchphrase we've been using for our show. As I would say, "What better to pay tribute to than 24?" I thought that show was pretty good!

TVGuide.com: I've always wondered what Leslie Hope looks like with long, lush hair, and Runaway answers that but it's just a big ol' tease.
Hope: I don't think it's giving anything away to say they are using a flashback element throughout the show, to unwind the story of how we got there, so you'll get more of that if you like it. That is a fabulous wig made by the fabulous Renata, who within the industry is very well known. It's certainly an adjustment to wear it. I always find myself sort of batting away at something in my face, and it's... hair.

TVGuide.com: It's quite a sacrifice that your character, Lily, makes, agreeing to live this life where she's always looking over her shoulder.
Hope: Well, as we see in the pilot, the decision is made by Lily to go on the run better to take her family out of what she perceives to be a more instant jeopardy and danger and I liked that, that she's the one who says, "Let's run." In later episodes there's even more justification for her to have made that decision.

TVGuide.com: Isn't she at all concerned that her husband's best hope for exoneration lies is an unreliable PDA that he pecks away at in the back of a greasy spoon?
Hope: [Laughs] Well, we have more hope coming up.... Because of 24, I'm trained not to see very much, but "there is more information coming," and it's not just through the PDA. And there are more ties to the past that are going to become evident over the course of the show. And more hopes get dashed as we go through the season.

TVGuide.com: Your repeated use of the word "hope"   is that some subtle form of self-promotion?
Hope: There's nothing subtle about me at all, Matt!

TVGuide.com: So how do you like your new TV family?
Hope: Here's what I can tell you first: I am so relieved that not only do I like all the kids, but I like their parents, which is a huge thing when you're dealing with kid actors.

TVGuide.com: "Hey, Les! You're stepping on Junior's lines!"
Hope: Yeah, exactly! And I'm really, really happy with Donnie. I feel very lucky that he and I are in this together. Dustin Milligan (Slither), who plays our beautiful older son, is a fellow Canadian. Sarah Ramos (American Dreams) is terrific, she has a poise and a confidence that's just eerie, in that she's only 15 and she's this really interesting young woman. And Nathan Gamble, he's a phenomenon. He's 8 years old and he knows his lines better than anyone else!

TVGuide.com: Did you put yourself up for this gig before or after Commander in Chief's fate was sealed? [Hope played attorney general Melanie Blackstone.]
Hope: Well, I would argue that Commander in Chief's fate was sealed pretty early on. [Laughs] I went onto Commander in Chief through Rod Lurie, who had produced Line of Fire, and Rod was fired six episodes in and replaced by Steven Bochco, who I didn't really see much of. I did one [episode] with Bochco and then I came in again after Bochco left.... This is all a long way of saying that somewhere in there....

TVGuide.com: You started circulating the headshots?
Hope: Yeah, that's right. Somewhere in there I felt like perhaps it was best to move on. [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: What do you hope that short-lived series' legacy might be?
Hope: That wasn't my show and I honestly didn't contribute very much to it I was happy to be a part of it and to work with Rod again but I hope for the sake of Geena [Davis] and the rest of the cast that they aren't blamed for that show not staying on the air, because they did a really good job. Plus, it showed us Donald Sutherland regularly on TV, and there's nothing wrong with that.

TVGuide.com: Have you heard any new rumblings regarding a possible wrap-up TV-movie?
Hope: I have heard those rumblings, but you've probably heard more than me. I did hear that the idea was floating around, as well as that they might give the series another whack but I think that might be a little more far-fetched.

TVGuide.com: Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?
Hope: I just directed a documentary in Cambodia called What I See When I Close My Eyes, and it's for an organization called Friends-International, which helps reintegrate the street kids of Phnom Penh, the capitol, into legitimate trades. I hope to go back to Cambodia at Christmas and show these kids this movie they helped me make.

TVGuide.com: What sort of success rate does Friends-International have?
Hope: It's phenomenal like, 70 or 80 percent of these kids are able to get out of principally the sex trade [and off] the street, and into something legitimate.

TVGuide.com: That's a very admirable effort, and good luck with it. Leslie, it was great talking to you again.
Hope: You, too. I'm sorry you got blown off by Elisha!

TVGuide.com: Hmmph. Are you sure you can't ground her for me?
Hope: [Laughs]

Hungry for more Fall Preview? The new TV Guide has sneak peeks at the new seasons of such shows as Lost, House and Bones.

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.