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An Interview With Beth Riesgraf

For the past four years, Beth Riesgraf has been playing Parker, the sticky-fingered resident thief on TNT’s Leverage, a drama about the noblest band of outlaws this side of Sherwood Forest. We stole a few minutes of her time to talk beer, pickpocketing, and baroque artwork (we can be sophisticated, too, you know!).

Check out Beth Riesgraf's Maxim Gallery.

Leverage is shot in Portland, America’s beer capital, and this season the crew works out of a gastropub. Are you a beer drinker?
Yeah! Growing up, that was pretty much what I drank. And then in Portland, you have all the microbreweries, so I’ve definitely had fun doing all the tastings.

Playing a master thief, you’re involved in some dangerous-looking scenes. What’s the craziest stunt you’ve done so far?
Probably running on top of a moving train. Thank God I didn’t trip. I was wearing Dr. Martens!

No harness?
No! It was fucking crazy. I don't know what we were thinking.

If you had Parker’s skills as an expert thief, what would you steal?
There’s a massive Caravaggio painting at the Louvre, Death of the Virgin. It’s not my favorite period in terms of art history, but there’s something about that piece that has always struck me as beautiful.

We’d just snag a PS3. Have you ever committed a crime in real life?
Oh, Jesus. I moved from Minnesota to Las Vegas when I was 13, so I spent my high school years there and did some things I’m not proud of. Even now the technical consultant on our show who taught me how to steal says I have the sweetest hands. I’m like, “Oh, if he only knew.”

You have a “stealing” consultant?
Yeah! He grew up in a family of thieves, and he performed in Vegas. He’s the kind of guy who can be talking to you and suddenly your driver’s license is in his wallet and he’s wearing your watch. I’m not even exaggerating.

To what extent can you do what he does?
I’m nowhere near as good as he is. I got really good at lifting wallets, and that’s about it. When I go through rehearsals with some of the guest stars, they’re always surprised that I’ve actually taken their wallets.

Part of Parker’s appeal is that she’s got the crazy factor going on. Can crazy be attractive?
I know a lot of crazy girls, and I know a lot of great guys who love crazy girls. A little bit of crazy is exciting, but too much becomes a pain in the ass.

You had a role in MTV’s sexy soap opera Undressed. If you had to show your future grandchildren one or the other, would they see your Maxim spread or your Undressed episodes?
My Maxim spread! When I did Undressed, I had curly ’fro hair and looked like a math geek. With Maxim I’d be like, “Look! Your grandma was really cool and hip at one point.”

Check out Beth Riesgraf's Maxim Gallery.

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