Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sharon Lawrence talks instant chemistry with Sasha Alexander on Rizzoli & Isles

by: Jamie Steinberg

Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I did the show "Rizzoli and Isles" and I am also on the show "Drop Dead Diva" again this season. I think that airs in August. I'm also in the film The Middle of Nowhere, which was just honored as one of the gala films at the LA Film Festival. It will be released by Participant in October. It won also won Best Director at Sundance for Ava DuVernay, the first African American woman to ever win that award. I also serve Women in Film, the group that's been around for thirty-five years working towards a global vision for women in the entertainment market place.
Q) What can you tell us about your character Dr. Hope Martin on "Rizzoli and Isles?"
A) She is the long lost and long discussed birth mother to Maura Isles. She is not aware that her daughter is someone who has actually enlisted her assistance in a technique to determine a murder victim. She doesn't know that the scientist working right across from in the lab is indeed her daughter. She does feel a real excitement about someone who shares her passion for this work and who respects the techniques she developed as a scientist in the 80s to determine bodies during the Bosnian War. That endeavor in her life is one that I think is very telling. She's reuniting the physical remains of people who have passed with their families. And actually, with her own story, she herself has a huge piece missing. She and Maura share that passion for the work that they do, that analytical sensibility, but they also have a big gap that only Maura knows the truth about.
Q) Were you a fan of the show before being asked to guest star?
A) Yes! And I was really a fan of the fact that it's based on a book written by a woman, Tess Gerritsen, and created as a television series by a woman, Janet Tamaro. I liked it stars two female leads and I think it very accurately shows the complexity that women have. These women are daughters, colleagues, friends and professionals and the show really does capture the modern woman's juggling act. It's very gratifying to serve their vision.
Q) What challenged you about this role?
A) Well, I think the emotional depth of a character who has lost someone is always a compelling thing to play. On "Drop Dead Diva," I also lost a daughter, but there is a much lighter and more soulful well draw from - a sense of completion. She is someone who has been able to move through her grief in a more productive way. This character is someone who is trapped in a way that she doesn't quite understand and certainly doesn't acknowledge. She is someone who lives in her mind the way Maura does. For me, as an actor, one of the challenges and one of the rewards was trying to find the way to create a realistic portrayal of mother and daughter who have never known each other, but yet share similar qualities. We physically resemble each other in a very striking way so that was easy or helpful. Then I worked to find the physical behaviors or quirks that Maura has and included them in my performance.
Q) Was there instant chemistry when you began working with Sasha Alexander?
A) Yes! Unequivocally it was great! She is an amazing actor. What she manages to balance - she's aware that she's only inches away from the woman that gave her away and who she's had all these complex feelings for. Her assumption about this woman is not true and she can't even reach out, touch her and tell her because it's literally an emotional bomb that could go off in their lives. Watching her work is just amazing.
Q) What were some of your favorite scenes to film for the show?
A) Some of my favorite moments were around a dinner table with Angie Harmon and Lorraine Bracco, who are hysterical! Sasha is so gracious, graceful and playful and seeing their bond - that was really a delight. It isn't always like that, but this is a very happy group of people.
Q) What do you think it is about the show that continues to captivate so many viewers?
A) I think we can identify them as friends. We can identify them as people who work for a living. We can identify them with what makes them driven in their duty and what parts of their lives they have to work harder at balancing. I think you can't underestimate the chemistry between those two beautiful gals who are just easy and fun to watch, especially what they bring out in each other.
Q) You are a part of the social networking site Twitter. Why is that such an important place for you to connect with fans and promote your work?
A) I don't devote my Twitter feed to just my work. It's really just as much about things I find inspiring, interesting and compelling in life. For me, it's a way to find out things that I am interested in that other people are doing and sometimes pass that on. It isn't just a tool for business.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I'm grateful that we live in a country where we can tell stories freely, knowing that women in Iran are killed sometimes for expressing themselves through music. We are very fortunate in this culture to have the freedom to tell our stories the way we see fit. I encourage women to understand that everybody's story is vital and valuable. You can put it out there in the world in many forms.

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