Monday, July 1, 2013

Interview: Sasha Alexander, "Maura Is in a Funky Place"

The dynamic duo of “Rizzoli and Isles” — played by Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, respectively — is back and better than ever this fourth season of the TNT hit cop-show drama, which airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c. I spoke with the doctor half of the duo, Sasha Alexander, about the new season and what’s in store for chief medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles. And yes, I also asked her about “Dawson’s Creek.” I just couldn’t resist.

Celebrity Extra: Last we saw Maura, she was going to anonymously donate a kidney to her sister. Where does season four pick up?

Sasha Alexander: We start about three months after Maura has donated her kidney to her sister. Like you said, her sister doesn’t know. Maura’s in a funky place, because emotionally I think she is recovering from the surgery, but she’s kind of bummed out that nobody has really reached out and thanked her. Not her mom, not her sister, not anyone. And so she’s just feeling a little bit vulnerable and fragile. And she’s not her normal sunny self, and it’s kind of a bummer for Jane (Rizzoli) and for everyone else, because they are having to tiptoe around her.

But I think it’s funny to see her that way. Watching Jane try to help lift her spirits, it leads to some funny antics. Like, Maura wants to spy on her kidney to make sure that Kayleen’s taking care of it properly. There’s a scene where she spies on her and she’s pumping all this artificial sweetener into her coffee, and she’s like: “That is just not OK. It’s so unhealthy. She’s not treating my kidney well.” It was really funny.

It’s sweet because it brings Maura and Kayleen together. They do end up forming a relationship, which is going to lead to Maura playing big sister to Kayleen. And Kayleen’s going to come to her for help with their mom, Hope, and it leads to a lot more of the family drama. Paddy Doyle is on trial, and we’re going to uncover what really went on with Hope and with Paddy. There’s a lot of cover-up. A lot of secrets. A lot of lies. And it’s going to put Maura in a position of having to choose between these people that she’s just met who she’s related to and her real friends and family, Jane and the Rizzolis.

CE: Your show always has the best guest stars. Who’s on board for this season?

SA: Sharon Lawrence is back as Hope. And John Doman is back as Paddy Doyle. Amaury Nolasco joins us as Lt. Martinez, who is a person from Jane’s past who we’re going to find out about. Eric Winter is a love interest for Maura. He plays a bomb-squad tech who Maura’s attracted to.

CE: Switching gears a bit, I am a huge “Dawson’s Creek” fan, so I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about your experience on that show.

SA: I had a wonderful experience there, and the thing that always makes me laugh is that I went to prom with Dawson. I remember Katie (Holmes), Michelle (Williams) and I trying on so many dresses over the course of the three months. They were really, really picky about the prom dress. It was a big deal. But I had a wonderful time. All of them were wonderful. James (Van Der Beek), Josh (Jackson) and Michelle are all still dear friends. You know, we don’t have shows like that anymore. I loved the innocence and the beauty of that show. And I just thought it was a really fun experience for me, and I thought it was a really positive show. I wish there was something like it on the air now.

DD: Another big role for you was as Kate Todd on “NCIS” — and boy, what an exit! Her death was so startling.

SA: The reactions were just enormous. I remember I took off for Europe that summer, and when it aired, people just went nuts, and CBS called and was like: “Oh my God! You have to come back. We have to figure out what to do.” And it was wonderful to have such a positive reaction in the sense that people really loved Kate, and they still do. I think it was shocking because nobody saw it coming. I can say that I don’t like it when people walk up to me and re-enact it for me. It’s not an image of oneself that we like to keep reliving. But, it is what it is. It was a good, shocking TV moment.

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