I spoke with KATHRYN ERBE & JAY O. SANDERS about LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. It was great to get Kathryn’s thoughts on reprising her role as Eames and some insight into Jay’s character, Captain Hannah, because we don’t really know a lot about him. I am really enjoying this season of LAW & ORDER: CI and I hope that they decide to bring it back for another. The first film I saw Kathryn in was “What About Bob” and she looks pretty much the same so I think I am going to give the spicy lemonade a try. “Kiss the Girls” was one of my favorite films that Jay was in. Don’t miss Kathryn and Jay in LAW & ORDER: CI Sunday nights on USA Network.
Lena Lamoray: Kathryn, it’s good to have you back on the show. What was your first day like back on the set and with Vincent?
Kathryn Erbe: Oh, it was awesome. My, you know, I felt actually very emotional being back. I was so, so glad to be back. And, you know, I worried – I didn’t know how it was going to be – whether we were going to be rusty or not. And my memory of it is just walking down from my dressing room onto the set, passing one person after another who I’ve known for ten years, some more. And it was really like coming home. And it especially felt that way doing the things with Vince. It just was like riding a bike. We, you know, we have done it for so long. I’ve now done this show for a quarter of my life. And so we just have a shorthand and there’s a lot of unspoken communication because we just understand how it – at least how we think the things should go. And we’ve just been laughing and everybody is – we have 95% of our crew back really out of loyalty. They left jobs or they waited to come back and do these eight episodes with us. And it just has felt really, really wonderful. And the first day was the epitome of that.
Lena Lamoray: What were your first thoughts when you were asked to reprise your role?
Kathryn Erbe: I was just so really, really happy. I was devastated not to be doing the part all the way through. And it was a huge joy to have them ask me to come back.
Lena Lamoray: Jay, Captain Hannah seems to be the perfect person to keep Goren in line. Can you talk about the relationship between the two characters and what it’s like to work with Vincent?
Jay O. Sanders: Yes. They’re friends – they’re friends and one of them got a step up which is me in this case. And just at the perfect moment because my friend needed a hand back. So I’ve – I brought him back insisting you’re not going to – there’s no reason to go forward with a job like this without the best you’ve got. So I wanted Goren and Eames completes him. Their chemistry is what makes the magic. And I’m just there to manage it and to keep things in a groove. And the friendship that we have before which Vince and I already felt anyway, and Kathryn and I, kept it – makes it a really fun environment. It was nice…
Kathryn Erbe: Yes.
Jay O. Sanders: …having the show that showed last night that was just the jiggle room of that where he gets out of line just for a moment, long enough for us to say wait a minute, this is not happening like this. I’m in charge. And once that’s said everything becomes easy. And I have to tell you the three of us more than anything…
Kathryn Erbe: Too much.
Jay O. Sanders: …else, in our work. It’s great. It’s just a great time.
More Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q: Kathryn, would you like to have been offered the position of Captain? Or maybe you were offered it?
Kathryn Erbe: No. Eames would – no, I don’t think Eames wanted that job and I think that’s why she – she bowed out after having fired Goren. I think she, you know, in solidarity to him she did not want that position. And so I think that she is happiest when they’re working together solving cases.
Jay O. Sanders: And I would go one step further to say I’m glad she didn’t want that position or I wouldn’t have a job.
Q: Your role is so iconic and it’s become such a fan favorite, what would you like to say to everybody who’s been a supporter of Criminal Intent and yours as well?
Kathryn Erbe: I cannot thank everyone enough. This has been such an amazing experience. And it’s not – honestly, I have – since leaving the show I mean I was aware that people were enthusiastic but when I was asked to step down a year and a half ago was when I really – it really hit home for me how strongly people did support the character and me, especially this group that they collaborated on this – what they call the binder project. And they sent one to Vincent, to me and to Eric Bogosian. And when I received this sort of in the depths of my despair about not being on the show anymore it just really was – I was speechless. I was so moved by everyone’s support. It has been really just an amazing experience. I’m so, so grateful.
Q: How has Eames changed since you and Goren have returned for the final season?
Kathryn Erbe: I, you know, I think when we return initially she is, you know, a little concerned for Goren wondering how he’s going to be being back. And then we’re, you know, that is – her concerns are dispelled and we are back to business, you know? It’s – I think Eames is very happy to be back in major case and to be working with him again because, you know, they have such a good working relationship. And their – they are, you know, she’s just grateful.
Q: Since this is the final season I was wondering what you thought about the episodes when Eames and Goren didn’t catch the bad guy?
Kathryn Erbe: I loved those actually. I thought it was always interesting to mix it up a little bit and especially Nicole Wallace, you know, those episodes where I really looked forward to them personally. And, you know, what she was going to be up to. And I really wished that Eames was going to be the one to take her down in defense of Goren, protect him. But it didn’t go that way.
Q: Jay, how does it feel to return to the show on the side of the law after you were already on as a killer in season 2. Is that weird?
Jay O. Sanders: Oh, it’s great. It’s an open world, the whole Law & Order world. I played both a lawyer and a perp on the other – on the mother ship as well. But I’ve known Kate and Vince for a long time. And the chance to come on and work with them in support this way, has been terrific. It’s a great working relationship. And I always come ion and have a great time and it’s like going to the playground. I mean there’s – whether I’m being evil or good is sort of beside the point. It’s just getting to play with terrific actors in fun stories.
Q: Kathryn, Chris Brancato said that there is an episode coming up where we see a little bit of Eames’ background, kind of where she grew up. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Kathryn Erbe: Yes. My character grew up in Inwood which is at the very top of Manhattan. And in that episode there is a crime that we are – we trace to the neighborhood. And so you – we all collectively, get to go and see for example, where Eames went to elementary school. And she does a kind of mini tour as they’re walking to interview some people about the crime. You get little snippets about aspects of her childhood. And we in fact go and hang out with her dad. So it’s – and he’s quite a colorful character and drinks a little too much, played by a great actor, Raymond J. Barry. We had a really good time… He did a great job. We had a great time with him.
Q: Now a hypothetical question. So the episodes I’ve seen so far have been so strong. And if the numbers are good and if this does come back for another year are you both onboard? Do you want to continue being a part of this?
Kathryn Erbe: In a heartbeat. Jay, I’ll let you answer for yourself.
Jay O. Sanders: Sure. I’m having a great time. I have various commitments in the theater at this point. But the great thing about it is that the show is right here in New York and allows me to be with my family and around where the theater is. And also I would do anything I could to make it all work out. I love the working conditions and I love the company.
Q: Jay on the coming episodes do we get a little window into your character? Do we get a chance to see that?
Jay O. Sanders: I – not really right now. I think, you know, we’re working a limited amount and the focus has been primarily on the cases which is the way Law & Order has always been constructed. And Dick has been very careful to keep things always guided that direction. I think you may have seen more about my character last night just in terms of clamping down with my friend saying, you know, we’re friends but here I’m the Captain. Beyond that it’s just us keeping each other buoyed up through the long hours of working on a case.
Q: Given that you’ve played a detective for so long now, if we were to give you a prop gun and badge and drop you off at a real police station how long do you think you could fake it before being found out as a fraud?
Kathryn Erbe: I don’t know. I think probably right away. Probably right away. But maybe not. I really don’t know. It’s, you know, I have spent a little time at my local precinct, the 76th Precinct in Brooklyn, in the last couple of months. And I would hope I would fit in. But they’re certainly nice people and I like hanging out and talking to them all out there. So I would like – I think my hair might be a little long. I’d have to put it back. I’d probably be too much of a wimp. I think my impression of this – of what the real people do, you know, I have such respect for them and, you know, I’d be wondering where the hair and makeup people are and where Craft Services and who do I get to hide behind and who tells me what to do when the perp is coming at me and I’ve got to pull my gun. So, you know, I can’t even touch what they do every day.
Q: You talked about how much you love doing the show and how much it broke your heart to not be doing the show. Would you have wanted or been willing to do the show if Vincent wasn’t your partner?
Kathryn Erbe: It would – if Vincent wasn’t my partner? I probably would have gone on to do it but I wouldn’t have been happy without him. So this – in hindsight the way things happened this is the perfect, perfect way for it to have gone down. And I am – I don’t think that Eames would have, you know, it just wouldn’t have been the same. And this is what we love to do. This is what I love to do. This is what the audience loves to see. And they made it very clear, you know, when we weren’t doing it anymore, that this is what they wanted to watch. And that makes – I know it makes me incredibly happy to be doing it again with Vince. And I think he feels the same way.
Q: Since this is the final season is there something that you want to take off of the set as a memento?
Kathryn Erbe: You know, when I left the last time I took what I wanted. I took A, the picture of my dog (Frieda) which I keep meaning to bring back and I haven’t remembered to bring back. But we – when we first started shooting this show we – this is probably going to be too longwinded and not that exciting of an answer. But we were shooting in what – the building where they printed the Post, the New York Post. And by the time we started shooting they were only printing the paper there and their reporters weren’t there anymore. But we used a lot of their paperwork that they left behind. And there were these three notebooks from maybe the ’50s and ’60s that were one man’s diary. Not quite his diary where he – he kept a record of every expenditure that he had. And they were written in this impeccable script. And I just found them fascinating and they followed us from set to set. And every time they – I would find them I would just spend all the time in between shooting looking through these things. And so I have them and I was never going to bring them back. I would keep my badge too if I could but that would be illegal.
Q: What would you like to see in the end for your character?
Kathryn Erbe: You know, I’d just really like for her to be happy. I think, you know, I don’t want her to be killed and I would like for her to be happy. I think, you know, a lot of – she’s had a tough time in, you know, little ways here and there. And it would be nice for her to be a happier person.
Q: What about promoted though, because she started to be promoted before but there were strings to it and so she didn’t want to follow through on it. Do you think she might want to do it now?
Kathryn Erbe: Yes. And she didn’t want that. (Without strings) I’m sure she’d be open to that. Yes. That would – that might be interesting. But I do think she enjoys working with Goren and being out there, you know, in the nitty-gritty.