RIZZOLI & ISLES Sasha Alexander Interview, Dr. Maura Isles

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Lena Lamoray:  You do a fantastic job with the medical aspect of the show.  Can you talk about the training that you went through?

Sasha Alexander:  Thank you.  Well when I was on NCIS I learned a lot from working with David McCallum who plays Ducky. We had a lot of medical examiner coroners on the set so I got to know a lot about it. We visited the coroner’s office as part of our training. So I had a lot of – I got a lot of experience there and got my feet wet and so I knew kind of what I was expecting.  But we have a great tech advisor on our show named Detective Russ Grant. He’s a retired Boston homicide detective. And he helps me through the scenes and helps me understand, you know, what I’m doing exactly and if I ever get grossed out, he’s there to laugh and, you know, guide me through it. So I pretty much – I’m familiar with it but every script brings a new scene that I have to dissect and, you know, figure out how to work through.

More Conference Call Interview Highlights:

Q:  When you left NCIS, there was a lot of talk about the reasons why, one of them was that you didn’t like the action part of it. And on this show you don’t do the action. You play the girly-girl but very cerebral. So was that true or do you miss the action?

Sasha Alexander:  That’s absolutely not true and I love action. I’m a complete tomboy. I was an athlete growing up. I was going to the ’88 Olympics as an ice skater so I love the action part of it. That is not the reason at all. But I love the action and I get very jealous that Angie gets to carry the gun all the time.  I’m teasing. But, you know, I love those scenes. I think they’re really, really fun.  I’m completely teasing. I’m teasing. I had one scene last year where I got to take the gun and it was really fun to do. But, no, I love the action sequences and I’m a huge, you know, one of my dreams is honestly to do like the female version of the Bourne Identity movies. Like I love, like, action films and all of it, so, no, that’s not why.

Q:  You have a new little baby at home, a six-month-old little boy, and I wanted to know how you’re juggling that with two kids and a work schedule. And also if you’ve done anything green as far as his nursery goes, anything – any green products or green things in the nursery, not the color but the eco-friendly part?

Sasha Alexander:  Yes. Well juggling it, you know, I have a fantastic husband that helps and a wonderful mother and so, you know, it takes a village. But that’s really helpful because we have a lot of long hours on the show and I bring my baby as much as I can…to work. But, yes, it’s definitely tough to manage but he’s a really good baby so I’ve been fortunate.  And as far as the green, yes, you know, well I like a lot of stuff. I’m very into kind of the organic cottons for some of the wipes, the ((inaudible)) products. I love – I use mostly – what else do I use? My God, there’s so many other little…The Green Cradle makes these fantastic just organic sheets, baby fitted sheets and blankies and so forth. So I’ve used a lot – I bought a lot of stuff there.  Their mattresses, their – so I did a lot – yes, most of the stuff there. I’m trying to think of even our – the products. I use a lot of Kiehl’s and Mustela actually. I find them to be – to work really well.  But I love the (Kiehl’s) products. They’re – you know, they’re my favorite. Yes, but everything I’ve tried to stick to as much as I can the organic cottons and things. And our crib is from – oh my God, I forget now. I just forgot.

Q:  Maura has a boyfriend (in the first episode), are we going to get to see a little more of her personal life this season. What can you tell us about that?

Sasha Alexander:  Well Dr. (Slecky) in the first episode does not survive very long.  But we do get to know more about her dating life. There’s a lot of – she dates a lot this season, some of Jane’s friends from high school and she has kind of an interesting relationship with Jane’s younger brother who comes back, Tommy, played by Colin Egglesfield. And she also – one of the loves of her life shows up and he’s also a very interesting character named (Ian) and he shows up briefly for now.  So we do get to see a lot more of her private life. There’s also Maura’s home which we see Maura’s house and office and all that but her home has sort of become this place where a lot of the Rizzoli clan is either staying at or we’re having a lot of Rizzoli dinners, not all successful I might add, at Maura’s house. So we get a lot more of that personal time with her. And what was the second part of the question?

Q:  Is she looking to have her own family?

Sasha Alexander:  You know what, I think that that’s an interesting sort of place that both Jane and Maura live in which is obviously finding the right person and then that can kind of lead to, you know, possibly having a family. But right now I think that it’s just finding the right person to have a family with. But, yes, I think they’re open – they’re exploring their maternal instincts and, you know, feelings about being mothers and all of that, so…

Q:  You guys have an unusual rhythm in the show, which is what really makes it feel so fresh and different. Can you comment on what you feel sets the show off?

Sasha Alexander:  Okay. Yes, you know what, I think that it’s interesting. I mean I think that, you know, look if you can get – if you can find a unique tone to the show, like I take that as a big compliment because it means that we have a voice that’s specific to our show. And there’s – I think that it’s an interesting thing but if you get a group of people together and you start writing for them and you sort of see the rhythms and their rhythms and you catch on to that, I think that that’s what makes things special.  And, yes, we do – I was doing a scene last night with Bruce McGill and, you know, he was – has his own rhythm too and it kind of combined with the characters if you take (Corsick) or you take Maura or Jane and it’s – anything can kind of happen. Everybody has a sense of humor. There is that lightness about it, about making fun of ourselves and, you know, that part of the show and then on the other side there is the kind of heavy crime stuff. So I think that lends itself to an interesting tone.  Also I think because you have so much of the personal relationships that are being developed in the characters individually and together, especially this season, I think that it’s different than a typical procedural show because you don’t actually know where you’re going every week. Not one of our episodes has been linear in its kind of way. If you start in the squad room, you end in the squad room, like that doesn’t really happen. And so it’s refreshing for us to be able to do it and I’m sure to watch it, it kind of keeps you a little bit on your toes and sort of where will it go. Yes, you know you’re going to see the same people but where will it go? What will happen?  And as far as the rhythm, I don’t know. I mean, you know, my husband says that I speak in my own kind of, you know, funny rhythm in terms of how I enunciate words and so forth and I definitely think that that sort of comes across in Maura so I don’t know. It could be all of us have that.

Q:  Were you a fan of the books before you signed on to the series? And do you think that the show has a responsibility to stay true to the characters that Tess created?

Sasha Alexander:  I was – I did not read the books before I did the show but I have read them since and I am a huge Tess Gerritsen fan. I write her constantly about just ideas, you know, that I’ve read that have stayed with me. As I was reading the books I would just be totally moved by a scene and, you know, write her about it. I think that the books are fantastic. I think that they are much darker than the show. To me they are in the vein of like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And that’s really hard to bring to television because it’s a totally different series.  So I think that the characters are true in their essence, mean – I just think that they’re emotionally they are true to what the books are. And there’s a lot of different characters that are showing up this season like (Ian Falknor) who is one of Maura’s long-lost loves. He shows up. In the books he’s – and it’s similar to the books but it’s not exactly the same.  So I do think that there is some responsibility to stay close to the books. I absolutely think so. But I think like anything if you bring something to a different medium, you have to adjust to that medium. And in this case we’re making a television series that people watch every week, clearly the books are going to be – you’re going to have to stray away from them in order to create content and to create and expand on characters and in this case lighten it up a bit because I love the books to read but I think in a television show it would be pretty dark.

Q:  I think it would be too controversial because in the book she actually is involved with a priest.

Sasha Alexander:  Yes. That’s one of my favorite storylines ever. You know, I hope that when we’re in Season 5 of our show they will, you know, have the guts to sort of figure out how to write that and work that in because I think those are the mysteries of the books that are incredibly unique and intriguing and would make incredible storylines if we could find a way to do them on the show.  But I think that right now the show is still early, you know, we’re just entering the second season and there’s amazing characters like even Maura’s hit man father. You know there’s a lot of darkness that comes in particularly for Maura on one side of like I think her family life and I think the mystery of her family life is much darker than, you know, sometimes her sunny side at work. So that’s kind of a light and dark thing that Tess Gerritsen plays with a lot. But, you know, it’s a great storyline. She has amazing storylines. I’d love to be able to do them on the show.

RIZZOLI & ISLES
Sasha Alexander Interview, Dr. Maura Isles
RIZZOLI & ISLES Monday Nights at 10 EST, Season 2 Premieres July 11 on TNT
July 4, 2011
Lena Lamoray

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