It's the third season for the popular TNT police drama Rizzoli
and Isles, and that is a very special time for star Sasha
Alexander, who plays the brilliant-but-socially-inept medical
examiner Maura Isles.
Believe it or not, despite having eye-catching stints on such
previous series as NCIS, Dawson's Creek and the short-lived
Presidio Med, this is the first time that Alexander has
played a character for three seasons. (She did return to NCIS
- which she left to explore other opportunities - a couple of times
for the third season in flashbacks.)
However, now she feels perfectly comfortable where she is - in the
morgue's office of the series based upon Tess Gerritsen's hit series
of mystery novels - and she wants to see how the story ends.
The third season takes place on the heels of a stunning cliffhanger
- her best friend, cop Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) has just shot
Maura's long-estranged gangster father. The new season will explore
how the two friends heal from this trauma and also look at the
search for Isles' birth mother.
Despite the fact that Alexander was suffering from a little bout of
laryngitis, she was kind enough to recently have a conference call
with us and a couple of other media outlets to preview the third
season of Rizzoli and Isles.
fears did you encounter when you thought of filming season three, as
opposed to the other seasons? Was there something different you felt
I was really excited because I feel like season two ended with such
a strong emotional and intense moment between Maura and Jane. So I
was curious to see where we would begin season three, and we started
just moments after. Maura is reeling from the shock and, obviously,
the anger she’s feeling that Jane shot her father. It’s really
great. It’s really fun to play that side of Maura and to have it be
that kind of that intensity. [It] was exciting to see where it was
going to go.
What characteristics of Maura are closest to Sasha, yourself?
Kindness. I think Maura’s kind. I think she’s generous and polite. I
would definitely say those are some of my better qualities. I’m not
as much of a brainiac as she is. I certainly don’t have as big of a
vocabulary. (laughs) Those are the similar qualities. And I
like the fashion.
The dynamics between you and Angie are phenomenal. What do you
attribute that to personally as opposed to on screen?
Personally, a sense of humor. We both share a similar sense of
humor. We have a lot in common in real-life: in terms of our
families and being mothers and all that. I think that we bring those
things. And having heart. Having a respectful relationship as women
and bringing that to the screen. Wanting that to be to the screen.
Wanting it to be a positive relationship between these women. I
think that attributes to sort of the way we play the characters.
you mentioned earlier that having your best friend shoot your father
- even if he was estranged - is kind of a tough thing to get over in
a friendship. Are the ramifications of that act going to be explored
throughout the entire season, or do you think that they’ll be able
to put it behind them?
No, they wrap up pretty quickly. At the end of the first episode
they get to the bottom of what the crime was, and what actually
happened. So I think that that clarifies a lot for both Jane and
Maura. But they’re not completely ready to say they’re sorry because
there’s a lot of miscommunication between them. That leads into the
second episode. Korsak (Bruce McGill), Frost (Lee Thompson Young)
and Angela (Lorraine Bracco) all get involved in getting them back
together. They end up in a life or death situation. And so their
friendship will kind of come back by the end of the second episode.
They really earn their way back. I like the way that it all comes
together. It’s not wrapped up immediately, but they’re back together
very quickly. Quickly enough.
You did some nice work with Jacqueline Bissett. She’s had such a
long and respected career. What is she like to work with?
Oh she’s a wonderful woman. She’s has a really enormous sense of
humor. She’s so beautiful. And she’s not like at all fake and done
up for a woman. She’s just lived, and she’s just... she’s gorgeous
and a really funny, funny lady. I like her a lot. I had a good time
working with her.
was reading in an earlier interview that you’d done before the first
season, that you hadn’t read Tess Gerritsen’s books before getting
the job. Have you caught up with the series since you’ve starting
I have. I have a few more books left to read, but yes, I’ve read a
lot of them and I love her writing. I’m a big fan of the books and
what she’s created and of her, personally. She’s really an amazing
lady. So, yes.
Judging by the way last season ended, the dynamics between you and
Jane are going to be completely different. How did you approach
playing the character going into the new season?
Well, Maura’s going to get much tougher this season. I think all
this stuff with her family has really - it’s changing her in a
different way and its toughing her up. She’s in a moment of
self-discovery; of figuring out who she is; where she came from; and
finding her biological mother is a big part of the first part of
this season. I think all that brings on a lot of emotional stuff for
Maura that is very new. But she’s going to toughen up. I think that
Maura’s been compartmentalizing certain parts of her life. Now ever
since Paddy Doyle entered the picture it’s opened up this whole new
part of who she is. And so we’re going to see a tougher Maura. I
still think a really funny Maura, and none of the comedy is going to
go away. But I think a tougher Maura.
everything that you have going on how do you find balance and handle
it all? I mean, personally and professionally, where do you find the
balance in your life?
Oh gosh, you know what? I think I speak for every working mother
when I say that it’s just difficult. I feel like when it rains, it
pours. You get a job you that love and a character you love, but I’m
at that time in my life where I’m building my family. So I have
little kids at home, and a husband that I love and it’s really
challenging. I don’t really have five minutes to myself unless I’m
driving to or from work. (laughs) That’s why I have
laryngitis today. It’s really challenging, and I just try to take it
day-by-day. I try to stay happy when I’m at work when I’m working,
and when I’m home really be with my family and be present and with
them. I have very little time for social time with my friends and
that can be really tough, but it’s the way it is right now. When
we’re not shooting, I have more time. So you just kind of take it
What makes Maura memorable to you as opposed to other characters
that you have portrayed?
Well I just love Maura. I love who she is. I love what she does for
a living, and how her mind is; how she thinks; I love the comedy in
her; I love that she’s off-beat; that she has a bit of, I think,
Asperger’s where she’s just socially a little awkward. Physically
fun to play somebody whose priorities are not just being liked, and
being interested in whatever you might expect a woman like her to be
into. I like her. I think she’s a good person. And she’s interesting
to me. It’s always very unpredictable what’s happening to her and
all the mysteries that are unraveling about her life are really
exciting. Emotionally this season, it’s really pushing it much
further for me. I enjoy her. I feel like she’s not boxed in. I felt
like other characters on other shows were very boxed in, like: don’t
be too sexy, don’t be too funny, don’t get too angry. On Rizzoli
& Isles we don’t have that problem. We have a woman writing the
show and she’s like, “Get angry. Get funny. Don’t worry about it.
Play all colors, and all complications of women that we are.” I like