Sharon Lawrence talks about new Season of “Rizzoli & Isles”

Nominated for four Emmy awards, Sharon Lawrence is probably best known for her six seasons on “NYPD Blue.” Since leaving the show she has kept busy with roles in both film and television, including the upcoming new season of “Drop Dead Diva.” This week Ms. Lawrence begins a run as Dr. Hope Martin on “Rizzoli and Isles.” Recently Ms. Lawrence graciously took time out to talk with Media Mikes about her new role as well as her strong support for the Women in Film movement.

MIKE SMITH: Can you tell us about your character on “Rizzoli and Isles?”
SHARON LAWRENCE: I play Dr. Hope Martin, Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) birth mother, who she believed was long lost and had given her up from birth. But by the time my character arrives at the medical examiner’s office after being called in to consult on a case, the audience is aware that the mother didn’t give her up at birth but had thought the baby had died. This character is also a scientist and she shares the same passion for a particular type of forensics. Maura is the first to know that this woman working alongside her in the lab is the mother she has always wondered about and longed for. But Hope is not aware. So it’s a very interesting dynamic to play. And it’s played so masterfully by Sasha Alexander, who had to play such a complex balance of awareness and longing and joy and pain. And to unlocking the secret that Hope is the key to understanding who she is.

MS: How did you get involved with the show? Did they come to you because they felt you were the right actress for the part? Were you a fan of the show before hand?
SL: Yes to both! (laughs)

MS: I have a question that I also asked Angie Harmon, who of course appeared on “Law and Order.” After having appeared for six seasons on one of the greatest television shows ever, “NYPD Blue,” does that effect your choices as an actress when you’re asked to do television?
SL: Well I certainly agree with you that it was one of the greatest television shows ever made and it certainly stands the test of time. I just saw an episode recently. But I’m a different person now. I could never base my choices and things that are decades in the past. I play different things now. I have different wisdoms. I have different experiences. I have a different role to fill in any story. And I’m so gratified that now I get to play mothers to these remarkable women. Whether it’s to Sasha on “Rizzoli and Isles” or on “Drop Dead Diva,” a delightful show that has a magic realism about it. I’m really fortunate that my career is not held in the past or held to one particular type of character or stage in a woman’s life. And what’s also very exciting is that I’ve been working with Women in Film for the past ten years. It’s a group that’s not just for networking but for promoting women in the executive and creative capacity of our business. And now I see so many women that are creating the material and telling the stories from their perspective. Whether it’s as show runners or writers or as directors, it’s nice to see that these women are building careers and not just one-offs. Knowing that there are female executives at networks like TNT and Lifetime that understand the complexity that we expect to see in our stories and that really resonate with us. So yes, “NYPD Blue” was glorious and these stories that we’re telling now are very exciting too.

MS: Since you mentioned Women in Film, do you have any interest in going behind the camera? I know you’ve produced in the past but do you want to take on more, perhaps as a director?
SL: I’m developing a movie about the breast cancer survivors who, just recently, after 20 years together as the first Dragon Boat racing team, was invited to be part of the Queen’s flotilla for the Jubilee. It’s an exciting process to get to interview those women and doctors and to prove that women not only can survive a diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer but grow stronger.

MS: Besides “Rizzoli and Isles,” what else do you have coming up?
SL: “Drop Dead Diva” begins in August and I’m also in a feature film called “The Middle of Nowhere,” which just won the Best Director Award at Sundance, which was a first for an African-American director. I’m also in a feature with Kathleen Turner called “The Perfect Family.” It’s currently out on DVD. And again, it’s all female writers, director and producers. I’m happy to help support them.


Related Content

TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles” Season 3 Interview Series

Based on characters created by best-selling crime novelist Tess Gerritsen, RIZZOLI & ISLES stars Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, a tough-as-nails Boston police detective, and Sasha Alexander as Maura Isles, a smart, impeccably dressed medical examiner from a privileged background. Despite being complete opposites, the two women share an offbeat chemistry and strong working relationship that has helped them bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals.

RIZZOLI & ISLES returns to TNT for its third season starting on June 5th, 2012.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with its stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander to discuss this new season and what we can expect.  Check out the interviews below:

Angie Harmon

Sasha Alexander

Sasha Alexander talks about Season 3 of “Rizzoli & Isles”

Sasha Alexander is known best for starring as Chief Medical Examiner Maura Isles on the Turner Network Television series “Rizzoli & Isles”. The show enters its third season on June 5th. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Sasha about this upcoming season and what we can expect.

Mike Smith: What fears did you encounter when you thought of filming season three, as opposed to the other seasons? Was there something different you felt going in?
Sasha Alexander: I was really excited because I feel like season two ended with such a strong emotional and intense kind of moment between Maura and Jane. So I was curious to see where we would begin season three, and we started just kind of moments after. So 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 was exciting to see where it was going to go.

MS: What characteristics of Maura is closest to what you have for yourself?
SA: 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. Those are the similar qualities, and I like the fashion.

MS: The dynamics between you and Angie is unbelievably phenomenal. What do you attribute that to personally as opposed to on screen?
SA: Personally, a sense of humor. We both share a similar sense of humor. We have a lot in common in real-life interms of our families and being mothers and all that. So I think that we bring those things. And having heart. Having a respectfulrelationship as women bring 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.

Are the ramifications from your best friend shooting your father going to be explored throughout the entire season, or do you think that they’ll be able to put it behind them?
Sasha Alexander: 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. So that leads into the second episode and, you know, Korsak, and Forth, and Angela all sort of get involved in kind of getting them back together. And they end up in a kind of life or death situation. And so their friendship will kind of come back by the end of the second episode. And they really earn their way back. I like the way that it all comes together. It’s not wrapped up immediately, they’re back together very quickly. Quickly enough.

MS: What was it like to work with Jackie Bithide?
SA: 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 gorgeous and a really funny, funny lady. I like her a lot and I had a good time working with her.

MS: I 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 seriessince you’ve starting playing Isles?
SA: 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.

MS: 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?
SA: 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. And 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, sort of compartmentalizing certain parts of her life. And now ever since Patty Doyle sort of 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.

Angie Harmon talks about Season 3 of “Rizzoli & Isles”

Angie Harmon is known best for starring as Detective Jane Rizzoli on the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles”. The show enters its third season on June 5th. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Angie about this upcoming season and what we can expect.

Mike Smith: How have the events this season two finale change Rizzoli & Isles’ friendship this season?
Angie Harmon: I think, if anything, we all know how it ended last season. If all of us have had friends with people that we love or people that we care about. I just think that it’s a really, really great thing to watch as these two character sort of work around their difference and work around the horrible situation that has happened, and come back together. What I also love is the way that the other characters in the show recognize the love that these two girls have for each other and, you know, help in their own different ways getting them back together. You know what I mean?

MS: “Law and Order” was marked as one of the great shows because of the great writing. And, the first two seasons of Rizzoli & Isles also has that kind of great writing. Do you see the show continuing, probably not as long as Law and Order, but having a long run? And is that something you would – you would see out and continue in the series?
AH: Gosh, I mean, I think as an actor, we all want to work and we all enjoy, you know, the projects that we set on to do. I think my strongest feeling in that – in answering that question is that and I don’t mean this arrogantly, I mean this, you know, as a parent of three girls, I think our show is on sort of the “right side of the line,” if you will. And I feel that way because, you know, I have young girls come up and tell me how much, they want to be a criminologist; they want to be a homicide detective; they want to get out there and help people and things like that. And I take that to heart. I think that’s an accomplishment for our show. So yes, I absolutely would love that, outside of the fact that, yes, I’d be working for a long amount of time. But I think that we’d be putting something that’s very positive out there. You know what I mean? For girls, yes I would love that. Absolutely. But not just for the selfish reason. We’ve got a great show. There’s more to it than that. We have something here that is a very positive role model and something that, personally I think we need. When they did that survey and all the girls were like, there were kindergartners, and like, “I just want to be famous.” But none of them said how. That, to me, is alarming. Young girls come out of college and high school to walk up and say the things that they say, like I just said. That means a lot to me. Yes, of course I would love to keep doing that.

MS: Did you always know from the moment you started reading with Sasha Alexander that this was the person that you were going to work with that and that would work best with? Or did you have to develop it?
AH: You know what I think? I think, both. We brought in a few people for Isles. I think Sasha just kind of hit it out of the part because she got the fact that, Maura was just kind of quirky scientist, sort of socially awkward. But she also got the fact that, Maura had friends and had girlfriends and things like that. You know what I mean? That’s why she got the job. Sasha and I have worked together over the past three seasons now, obviously our friendship is going to grow and mature and all of those things. I mean, it’s certainly wonderful to go to work and like everybody that you work with as opposed to walking on the set and dreading it because everybody’s a nightmare. Which I think we’ve all been in those situations, whether you’re an actor, or whether you work in front of a computer. So, yes, I think it’s both. I think there was sort of an instantaneous recognition. And then I think there’s a friendship and a relationship that has grown and matured over the years.

MS: I was wondering what you thought of the (Hoyt Art). Do you feel that it was explored within a good amount of timeframe? Or do you feel like he was – he still had a little bit more he could have gone?
AH: No, I was completely comfortable with where Janet took that and how much time we spent with it. If anything that was a really, really fun day that I actually also learned a lot from as an actor. I mean, in that moment after she kills Hoyt, you know, Bruce was there and him coming up and hugging me and crying and all that. That was all ad lib. It just sort of happened, because that’s what would happen. And when you’re living a character and living that life, you just keep going until somebody says “cut.” Bruce coming in and doing that and nurturing Jane in that kind of way. I had to break from him and walking to my trailer like I literally, my left knee gave out as I was about to go down. And I got into my trailer and just threw up. I mean, it was a very emotional moment. And as an actor, I’ve never had that happen before. I’ve always been able to draw the line and known the difference between reality and what we’re doing. It was just a very, very emotional closing for me. But no, I feel that we gave him his time. We gave him his due. You know the last thing you want is for people to be like, “okay, seriously, you can’t catch this guy? You can’t get in front of him?” You know, so, no, I was very fine with it. And if anything, I was very, very thankful for that experience because it just sort up upped the ante on acting challenge.