For Rizzoli & Isles, 'The Anger Is Still Fresh' - Can a Deadly Crisis Bring Them Back Together?It's not easy to be the other woman in a cop show with Angie Harmon.
But Sasha Alexander has parlayed that spot into something impressive, playing medical examiner Maura Isles opposite Harmon’s Detective Jane Rizzoli on TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles.”
The third season launches Tuesday night at 9, and it’s a critical juncture for the gals.
They’ve been friends for years and now they also work together. Or at least they did until the last episode of season two, when Jane shot Maura’s father.
Still, he’s her recently revealed dad, so she would have preferred Jane didn’t shoot him.
“It’s a huge ride for Maura this season,” says Alexander. “The whole mystery of her father and his past is changing her. She’s always lived in this world where she’s in control of everything, and now it’s another world she’s uncomfortable in.”
Maura’s also mad at Jane.
“She’s in total shock as the season starts,” says Alexander. “She’s very angry at Jane. It’s going to take a while for them to find their way back.”
Yet the fact there could be a way back reflects the strength of “Rizzoli & Isles,” which has clicked into place as a show that’s part cop stuff, part smart comedy and part character drama.
Taking nothing away from Harmon, whose TV legal credibility goes back to “Law & Order” and “Women’s Murder Club,” Alexander has slowly developed an intriguing presence of her own.
“In the beginning, the show was far more centered on Jane,” says Alexander. “She clearly had the advantage.
“But then as we learned more about Maura, we found it wasn’t what we expected. She has a lot of family and personal issues.”
She’s also a brainiac.
“She’s smart,” says Alexander. “She’s collected a lot of facts. But at the same time she has almost no sense of the effect she has on other people. She will say something funny and not know it’s funny. She’ll hear people laughing and not realize the joke is on her.
“It’s a challenge to play a character with no sense of irony. But at the same time, people like her.”
That part isn’t hard to understand. In one scene this season, Alexander says, Maura and Jane have to hide in a closet when they’re almost caught during an undercover operation.
“Out of nowhere, while they’re waiting,” says Alexander, “Maura starts talking about the history of leather, and its historical significance in sexuality.
“We had to stop the scene every few lines because Angie kept laughing.”
Let’s assume in this case that Harmon speaks for all viewers.
“The thing about Maura,” says Alexander, “is you never really quite know where she’s going.”
“We start Season 3 maybe 20 minutes later, so the anger is still fresh, the resentment of [what Jane did],” Sasha Alexander tells TVLine of tonight’s premiere (airing at 9/8c). “For both Jane and Maura it’s very unclear – like, What just happened?”
As such, don’t expect tensions between the two to smooth out in a jiffy – a wrinkle that delighted the series’ leads. ”I like the way [series creator] Janet [Tamaro] wrote it, because it’s not tied up in a bow after the first episode,” Alexander shares. Adds Harmon: “It takes a little bit to bring them back together.”'Rizzoli & Isles': Sasha Alexander teases the new season
A possible love interest for Maura: Eddie Cibrian will guest star in the June 19 episode. “Maura meets him on her autopsy table,” Alexander says. “Let’s just say his ‘special part’ gives him away.” Wait, we need her to explain that. “We think his character just had a stroke and died, so he’s still in his clothes on the table, and the girls are commenting on how hot he is when he’s on the autopsy table. It’s so inappropriate,” Alexander says. Look for Cibrian to return later in the season.'Rizzoli & Isles' starts season on tense note, but there should be fun to come
Maura Isles is not in a good mood as the third season of “Rizzoli & Isles” launches Tuesday.
That will happen when your father just got shot and your best friend was the shooter.
Isles (Sasha Alexander) is ordinarily the most rational and linear of people. Like a good medical examiner should be.
And her friend Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is ordinarily the most compassionate and considerate of buddies. Like a good Boston detective should be.
In this case, however, Rizzoli didn’t have much choice, since Maura’s father is a Mob killer who was holding a gun himself.
It sounds complicated, but it’s explained well, even to someone who’s a newcomer to the show. That’s one of the reasons “Rizzoli & Isles” has become one of the best cop shows on TV.
It works as light summer drama, with lots of great banter between the women, and it works as cop drama, since it has put both of them in very dangerous situations at regular intervals.
Best of all, though, it keeps peeling away layers on both characters. Neither, it turns out, is quite as immune to men as it might seem, and both are struggling with mother issues, for entirely different reasons.
That could get trite. Here, instead, it’s fast-moving and fun. Lorraine Bracco has loads of fun as Jane’s mom and Sharon Lawrence will come in this season as Maura’s.
In fact, the whole cast gets in the spirit — and let’s bet even Maura won’t stay mad all season.
Rizzoli & Isles Season 3: Sasha Alexander Previews What's Next, Big Guest Stars And More
I caught up with star Sasha Alexander to hear more about how the best friends begin to repair their relationship, and she also dished about some new guest stars, including Sharon Lawrence, who'll be playing Maura's birth mother, and Eddie Cibrian, who's Maura's new love interest. Alexander also talked about her character's darker side, the show's efforts to keep the strong female characters from becoming sex objects and whether or not she would do a musical episode.
Our conversation took place on the phone during a quick break from a particularly insane day of shooting -- there was a big party scene, and things sounded like they were getting a bit out of hand.
"It's actually a very funny episode where Maura is hosting the medical examiner symposium, so all of these very nerdy doctor types come ... so it's basically all these funny guys with Maura," Alexander teased of the upcoming episode. "Let's just say a lot of different chaos ensues with Dr. Pike, played by Ed Begley Jr., which is hysterical. He's so hysterical -- he has some very funny storylines this season."
She also gave us more of a glimpse into Begley's on-set/on-screen antics: "And then Ed Begley tried to stick his tongue in my ear, but hey! No, it wasn't him, it was his 'character.' [Laughs.] Just another day at work!"
Keep reading for more on what makes "Rizzoli & Isles" tick ...
I think it's a pretty raw moment for both of them right when we return because it just happened, so there's a lot of confusion and a lot of raw emotion for both of them. And that gets even more complicated -- for Maura, she's now got her father in the hospital and her mother, and she's dealing with the fact that Jane just shot her father. For Jane, she ends up in a bit of hot water because they're doing an investigation on this, and because she knew that Maura's father was Paddy Doyle, she's sort of implicated in it as a possible suspect.
But the show is called "Rizzoli & Isles" -- these two can't stay mad at each other for too long, can they?
No, but I love it because I think that when you see the second episode and when they do come back together, they've really earned it in a way that I think is just going to deepen their relationship. I like it -- I think conflict is good. I've loved this storyline with Paddy Doyle ... I think it's really an interesting mystery that has been sort of unraveling about Maura's life, and it's provided us with some really cool stories. So it's interesting how it's now come around to it being Jane that stops him. I think it's really paid off in an interesting way.
And now we'll also get to meet Maura's biological mom as well -- I cannot wait to see Sharon Lawrence on the show.
I know! I haven't seen the episodes, but she was really great to work with. The first time she arrives, Jane and Maura and Angela are there and this woman appears, and the way she speaks is so Maura-like -- she has this hilarious monologue talking about birchwood, which is so random. They don't know that this is her, but just by the way she speaks and her mannerisms, they're like, "There's no way this woman is not related to Maura." It's a really wonderful moment, and Sharon and I had kind of an uncanny resemblance.