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As one of the few shows able to premiere a new season amid the writers and actors strikes this year, NBC’s Quantum Leap sequel series has capitalized on the market share with several exciting and complex narratives, tapping into the strength of their cast and production team.
TV Fanatic has been incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with many members of the impressive team. This is a call sheet packed with powerhouse performers from top to bottom, and they regularly delight us with the guest stars that shine right alongside the core ensemble members.
In this exclusive interview, we chat up the couple at the center of the most scintillating plot development so far in Quantum Leap Season 2, Raymond Lee and Eliza Taylor.
As Number One on said call sheet, Raymond Lee is regularly tested in arenas of action, comedy, and suspense, as well as delving into some genuinely emotional depths as he leaps from life to life as the time-traveling physicist, Dr. Ben Song, in hopes of leaping home to a life that seems to have left him behind.
New to this constellation but ready to rise to the challenge, Eliza Taylor — best known and universally loved for portraying Clarke Griffin on CW’s The 100 — has burst onto the Quantum Leap stage as the brilliant and intriguing recurring character, Hannah Carson.
Quantum Leap’s legacy is decades-long. Before the sequel series launched in 2022, it was already hugely anticipated by fans of the original 1980s series.
Lee knew a bit of what he was stepping — nay, leaping — into when he signed up. Fortunately, he already had a positive personal connection to the show.
“This was a show that I watched with my best bud in sixth grade. When it was first airing, I was too young, but when it came back around, [we watched it].
“I remember he was a big sci-fi guy, and I was a big cartoon guy, so I wasn’t really watching much live-action anything. Then he turned me onto this show, and I have distinct memories of watching it with him, so it holds a special place.”
Recently, TV Fanatic spoke with showrunners Martin Gero and Dean Georgaris, who shared how casting the perfect Hannah Carson was crucial to the season’s success and how lucky they were to find and get Taylor for the role. They chuckled at the irony that they held a live chemistry read only to have Taylor audition over Zoom.
From Taylor’s perspective, landing the part seemed very unlikely at the time.
“Going into that chemistry read, I was really nervous,” she admits, “because I knew there were other women who were going to be in the room with Ray. I just thought, ‘Well, it’s probably not going to happen. Y’know, I can’t compete with that.’
“Then, we got on the Zoom, and it turned out we had a mutual friend, Christopher Larkin, who is a great actor and a great buddy of ours. So we had that in common, and once we got into the scene, it just made sense, and it just clicked.”
Lee chimes in with more background information, “What Eliza didn’t know – or perhaps it was great divine planning – was that this was our first in-person audition that we’d had in a very long time because of the pandemic.
“Everyone felt really nervous to be doing it again and to be back in the room, and so I think it actually worked against everybody who showed up in person because we just felt more comfortable in this space [gestures to the screen], y’know? For two years, we’ve just been Zooming with one another.
“On top of that, you just can’t fake the funk on chemistry, and it was instant. We knew it. The moment we got off [the Zoom], me, Martin, and Dean, we all just sort of looked at each other.
“Martin and Dean are masked up like this [covers mouth and nose and exaggerates facial expressions], and we’re all like, Yes? Yes. YES! Yeah, that was that.”
Director Chris Grismer was quite explicit in his interview with TV Fanatic about how Lee constantly impresses with his seemingly bottomless well of talents.
Specifically, Grismer commented on how the boxing coach they brought on for Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 3 thought Lee could go pro.
Lee is gracious in his response to the praise. “I think Grismer is very sweet to say that. And Rob Sally, who was our boxing coach and is a current boxing coach, did actually try to make me one of his fighters, which is extremely generous.
“I’m sure he was also puffing me up too because I watched that episode, and I’m like, ‘Nope, I thought I just looked different.’
“But, y’know, I think one of the benefits of growing up an only child is I’m a big hobbyist. I just have a lot of hobbies, and so, therefore, I do everything… decent.
“It’s great because, with clever camera movements and editing, they can make anyone look amazing. And the fact that I have some prior experience with some of these things can make it look like I’m actually very good at it. I was always just a bored only child who just had a lot of interests, so perhaps it makes it look like I’m good at stuff.”
From guest stars like Anastasia Antonia to Lee’s fellow QL team members, Caitlin Bassett and Ernie Hudson, reports have been unanimous that this is a cast that pulls together toward the mission objective.
Understandably, joining such a cohesive and established cast might be daunting, even for someone as experienced as Taylor.
“I mean, I’m nervous going into any sort of new environment,” she confesses, “I’m always pretty hard on myself, and I want to make a good impression.
“Walking onto the Quantum Leap set, I felt so embraced. It’s so amazing to work with a group of people who truly love and believe in what they’re doing. It’s evident from the second you get there.
“I’ve just felt really welcomed, and I don’t wanna leave.” This seems like it was a sudden realization on Taylor’s part. To Lee, she states emphatically, “You’re stuck with me now. I’m sorry.”
Lee acts like this is a hardship, “Oh noooooo!”
For close watchers of the series, it’s been heavily hinted that Taylor’s Hannah is here for the long haul from her first appearance on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 3.
On the “Closure Encounters” adventure, Ben doesn’t leap until after he’s given Hannah some information on a Princeton physics program that’s starting to accept women applicants in 1949.
On Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 6, upon encountering Hannah again — now a student at Princeton in 1955 — Ben suspects she’s as important to his leap as Einstein’s fusion formula.
Ben: What are the odds of me crossing paths with the same person in two different leaps?
Jenn: I mean, I’m not Ian, so I don’t have a weirdly exact number for you, but I’d say the odds are crazy slim. Maybe the accelerator just decided you needed a friend.
Did Taylor know how significant Hannah would be to Ben and the Quantum Leap project from the outset? Was her involvement discussed, and in how much detail?
“Was it discussed?” Taylor muses it over. “Yes, I think for this particular show, I’ve been really lucky.
“I’ve been given a lot of information upfront about the arc of my character. It’s fair to say there was a lot of discussion. I was really lucky to kind of see how she fits in and how integral she is to the story.”
Lee appreciates that the narrative breadcrumbs being dropped are not for naught. “First off, you’re a very keen watcher,” he notes, “You’re pickin’ up on some stuff there.
“I imagine for us to have someone of Eliza’s caliber on our show, she has to be really utilized. You just have to squeeze everything out of her, and I think we’re gonna. [laughs]
“What’s exciting is we’re only just getting started with the journey of Ben and Hannah. But yeah, I think it’s safe to say that there’s enough information out there that Eliza’s going to be a big part of it.
“Hannah’s going to be a big part of the journey and the leaps, and all these things that our writers are planting, you picked up on.”
As mentioned above, the Quantum Leap fan base is a faithful and enthusiastic one, eager to dig into theories and heavily invested in the characters.
Does that fervor affect the feel of a show, and is there a knock-on effect for the actors?
Taylor knows the power of a fandom firsthand. “Oh gosh, yeah. I can only talk from my experience with The 100, but I feel like our fans’ enthusiasm is what kept the show going.
“It wasn’t heavily advertised on CW. It wasn’t really pushed out there like some of their other shows. We kind of flew under the radar in a lot of respects, but people really grabbed onto it.
“When it went to streaming, it was exposed to so many more people. I really believe that fans can make or break a show, and in our case, they made it for us. I’m so grateful for that.”
Lee provides a more measured — but just as thoughtful — response. “To be completely honest, I stay away from Reddit threads or reviews. I learned early on – especially with doing theater – I’m on a moving train.
“It’s not like when your play opens, and you read reviews that are not great — or even if they’re good — it’s going to change your performance. So, for me, I’ve made the conscious decision to just kind of stay away from that.
“But the first time I actually got to see our fans in person was at a WonderCon, and I was really awestruck by the level of enthusiasm and what our fanbase connects to.
“It’s this feeling of feeling marginalized and feeling othered. For somebody to be able to see themselves on the screen, depicted in a way with the utmost empathy for their specific situation…
“I certainly felt that. I certainly felt othered my whole life, so it really gave me a second look at a way to invest myself and my heart into this show.
“It was never just a job, right? It was always more than that, but it became doubly more than that after seeing our fans in person and seeing what the show meant to them on the heart level.”
How Hannah will recur next is one of the burning questions of the season. With seven more episodes planned and the potential for a backend pick-up, the sky’s the limit for Taylor’s enigmatic and extraordinary scientist.
And, meanwhile, Dr. Ben Song‘s adventures continue even in her absence as he leaps into the Salem witch trials and then Egypt next, respectively.
How will their relationship resolve, Fanatics? Are we looking at a Time Traveler’s Wife scenario or is it more a River Song situation? Or could it be something wholly new and innovative?
Hit our comments with your theories on #Bennah and how it’ll affect the team!
Will Hannah help them bring Ben home? What does that mean for their romantic quantum entanglement?
How will Ben revealing his time traveling to Hannah butterfly effect her future or maybe his past?
Hit our comments with your wildest speculation!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.