Sasha Alexander was initially known for her roles on hour long Network TV dramas, such as Dawson’s Creek and NCIS as well as films like, Yes Man and He’s Just Not That Into You.
For the past 5 years, however, Sasha has become best known for her co-starring role on cables #1 Crime Drama, the TNT Original Series, Rizzoli & Isles.
Based on a series of novels by Tess Gerritsen, the series, which enters its fifth season this June, stars Angie Harmon as police detective Jane Rizzoli and Alexander as medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles.
Following the conclusion of their highly successful fourth season, the cast and crew were devastated by the sudden and untimely passing of cast member Lee Thompson Young, who played Detective Barry Frost.
Making the tragedy doubly more difficult was the fact that the first two episodes of this season had to address and deal with this horrific situation.
We told Alexander how amazed we are by how beautifully and effectively they managed to deal with the passing of Young.
“It’s really a testament to Jen Nash, who wrote the episode and her conceiving it in a way that didn’t shy away from it, but found a way to pay tribute to the character and to Lee,” she believes, “It was such a difficult situation for everybody because we went away and then, we came back and the worst thing we had to deal with was that loss.”
“And I’m just really proud of it and even though it’s not a comedic episode, it’s not an up episode, I feel like the work by everybody is just tremendous,” Sasha adds, “I’m really proud of it and I’m really excited for the audience to see it, because I do feel like they will be able to have an experience like we did. I feel it’s important as well, as our producers said, for us to go through this together. It’s an unusual situation in the business, people never really have that happen, so I liked the way they handled it.”
We felt there was a definite catharsis at the end, particularly with a line from Angie’s character Jane we liked that talked about her final wish to die one day before Maura.
“So I don’t have to deal with your wishes,” Alexander says, “I think that cracked me up and actually, I really loved the way Angie played it, because it was just like, ‘Oh, God.’ I can’t believe she was doing this. I can’t even listen to this right now, the list, it was really fun to play that. It was quite an experience for me to play Maura in that episode and the way she handles the loss.”
“Her own grieving process to me just really touched me, because we do all grieve in different ways and think that we can manage something one way and so we go, ‘Oh, we’re not going to do that,’ but she really, really believes that she’s going to manage her grief,” she continues, “And that’s an example of one of the scenes where, ‘OK, we should talk about our final wishes.’ I think it’s really funny. I think it’s one of the classic scenes between these two women actually.”
We expressed to Alexander how we felt that was quintessential Rizzoli & Isles because it says everything, plus it’s such an emotionally sweet thing to stay to a friend.
“It’s something we don’t all think about or bring up,” Sasha adds, “It’s not the topic that we want to talk about, but given what these two women do for a living, particularly Jane, she’s putting herself out there on the line very often, and so it is a reality. It’s a very touching scene.”
“That’s a testament to the script,” she continues, “I remember feeling nervous about what to expect and which way they were going to go. When I read the script, I was so moved by the script, I called Jan immediately and just said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for handling it,’ because she wasn’t here last season. So for her to step into a position that had to deal with this as its first primary issue is a really big thing to do, and she did it like a pro. She just did it with enormous heart and empathy and love for all of us and him.”
We expressed to Sasha that the tone of the series is unique in the sense that in the midst of dealing with a pedophile and you hear the sad music in the background, you get the sense that everything is OK.
“Which I like,” she says, Even though I loved True Detective this year, I was really a big fan, it felt like a movie to me in that way, I am a person who likes to watch TV and feel that there is some hope. Tonally, you can play with that however you want. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a really dark episode, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have a funny episode. But in general, there’s hope. These people are good people, they are trying to do better in the world, I’ve always been a sucker for those kinds of shows. Those are the ones I want to watch every week, so I understand that. I understand these people, and when I step into the role of this character, after so many years, we start to get such a music together.”
“And when I watch the show, I don’t see Sasha and Angie,” Alexander continues, “I really see Jane and Maura. I see those two women together. And I find myself going, ‘Oh, they’re so fun. I want to be friends with them. Yeah, what’s she going to say? Oh, wait, I’m playing one of these characters.’ Even when there’s episodes and they don’t do something really girly, I’ll be like, ‘Where’s the girls’ stuff? Why aren’t they getting manicures? What’s going on? They aren’t doing anything fun! It’s all these serial killers all the time.’ I feel like there needs that, and that’s part of the tonal thing that I really love. That you can be on a crime scene wearing Alexander McQueen, as one does, I love it, too.”
We told Alexander that as much as there are many good TV series currently that have dystopian futures, we feel, as cheesy as it may sound to some, that a show with hope is important.
“I think so,” Sasha says, “It is for me. It really is, for me, just in terms of what I want to watch. I don’t want to become completely depressed after an hour of something. That doesn’t mean that I won’t go into that subject matter. Game Of Thrones, is it uplifting, I would say? Huge fan, but there’s something fantastic about it and something that’s more imaginary and make-believe in a way.”
“But when you’re dealing with real people in today’s world and what some of the topics are, not that our show, I feel, is very weekly topical or whatever, but it is current.,” she adds, “like to see characters that are trying to do OK in the world, doing their best.”
We pointed out to Sasha that binge-watching Rizzoli & Isles is far less likely to give you bad dreams than say Game Of Thrones.
“I totally agree with you,” she says, “I can handle one a week and I enjoy that hour, I really do. But if we go through one and my husband goes, ‘Let’s watch another,’ I can’t, I just can’t, because all of a sudden, I think everybody is trying to kill me, blackmail me, I don’t know what they are doing.”
“Everything’s just like, I feel like I’m paranoid about the state of the world and human beings,” Alexander adds, “I can’t, I get very worried that it’s all a big game, but I do love it. It’s too much. You’re going to start to get mad like the crazy guy who tortures people.”