While we’ve all been crushing on the gorgeous Marsha Thomason on USA’s White Collar since the show premiered in 2009, her on-screen persona has never gotten much action on the show outside her frequent mentioning of her never-before-seen lover, Christie. Tonight, however, we finally get to meet the “phantom” (as Thomason has called Christie in the past) in the flesh and, oh, what flesh in the form of actress Moran Atias, who steps into the role in what we can only hope will turn into a recurring or regular role on the hot crime drama.
The Israeli-born model-turned-actress first turned heads in the TV and film world with her role on the Starz series version of the popular feature film, Crash, as well as appearing in last year’s film The Next Three Days (both projects from Academy Award-winning director Paul Haggis). With her new role on White Collar, though, Atias told AfterEllen.com that while she jumped at the chance to play the role, she is very open about being ready to go all the way with Thompson whenever necessary.
AfterEllen.com: Here you are becoming a gay icon before our very eyes!
Moran Atias: [laughs] Are you ready for it?
AE: I’m ready. Are you ready?
MA: I’m ready!
AE: How did the role of Christie came about? Was it the usual casting process?
MA: I think the show runners saw my work on Crash and in The Next Three Days and that was it. I was actually in Israel on my way to Italy to promote another movie and they called me and asked if I could come. It was the week of my birthday but as soon as I found out more about the character, I just had to. I had to be a part of the show and to be Marsha’s love interest? You can’t be that lucky more than once!
AE: Were you familiar with the show or Marsha before you got the role?
MA: Not too much. I knew of the show but when the offer came in I started doing research about it and then I really wanted to do it. I changed my flights at least five million times so I’d have to get there and give Marsha a big kiss on the lips. [laughs]
AE: What exactly do we see in the show in terms of Christie and Diana’s relationship on the latest episode?
MA: I think they’re saving the juicy stuff for the future so this is really just a taste of their relationship and, for me, it was not enough. They are about three years into their relationship so it’s established and stable but I’d like a little bit more, personally. Each episode [of White Collar] is all about a crime or a case so I guess if Christie’s medical knowledge could be of use to the case itself then — they’re not going to show more of our kissing unless the viewers really ask for it. I think they have a less-than conventional way with White Collar — and even with Crash, because the viewers that watch the shows are part of the process and the evolution of the show. With Crash, I just came in for two episodes and viewers wanted to see more of me so it just happened. So it will depend on what White Collar fans ask to see.
AE: Is this your first time playing a lesbian character?
MA: Actually, my first acting role was in an Italian movie called Gas and my character would go after anything she liked — but, to me, they’re just titles. Gay, non-gay — whoever created us – and that would be God – created us equal but unique. I don’t understand the need of people to be part of something but if it’s created to be separate from something else I think that’s not a beneficial concept for anyone.
AE: How was it working with Marsha, who is so much fun to talk with? How was it on the set?
MA: She’s a sweetheart and really funny and very caring, which is wonderful to experience and to work with. So, of course, she was an example for how she wanted to make me feel welcome and not a guest. I didn’t feel like I was just coming for an episode. I think everyone on the set was just wonderful and they really care about what they’re doing so it’s wonderful. She’s just hot, especially with that accent! Well, I guess it’s not her accent since it’s really how she speaks, right! I have a weakness for Australian and British accents. Those accents!
AE: What is the gay climate in your native Israel? How open is it compared to the States?
MA: It’s great! Oh my God. Let me put it this way — if you’re straight you’re boring and that’s just how accepted it is. In sports or entertainment or music people are out and it’s not even an issue. We have everything and it’s kind of in every color. Whether it’s religion or sexuality, we really have a huge, colorful range of colors and opportunities and I think that’s what is magnetic about Israel. It’s just who they are. It’s not a statement. I feel like we’ve passed the point of “I’m gay” as a statement. No, it’s not like that at all.
AE: Why do you think it’s taking so long for the United States to get to that same point? We’ve made great inroads but there’s still definitely a way to go.
MA: I’m not too familiar with the situation so I can’t have a profound opinion but there are more people [in the United States]. Maybe it’s going to take a little time because it’s so big, but I hope that’s the only reason.
AE: It’s great that shows like White Collar have lesbian characters and that it’s very natural. The storyline has never been about Diana being gay. It’s just a part of who she is and now we’re meeting her lover.
MA: Exactly. I’m just her partner for life. It’s not a statement and I think when we are so beyond the point of making it a statement. It’s like when someone says “He’s Jewish.” Nobody says “Oh, he’s Christian” or “He’s Catholic.” What’s the point?
AE: Well, we’re very excited to have you on the show and hopefully we’ll get to the hot and heavy scenes with you and Marsha soon.
White Collar airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the USA Network.