EXCLUSIVE: “Rizzoli & Isles” star Sasha Alexander talks season 3 and lesbian subtext

AE: Last season the mainstream media really latched on to what gay female fans have noticed from the start – the chemistry between Jane and Maura and that sly “are they/aren’t they” a couple vibe that you guys sometimes put out. Were you surprised that fans caught onto that immediately? And were you surprised that it made its way into the mainstream discussion of the show?
SA: Yeah, a little bit. Definitely. I mean you don’t really know what you have until you start editing it and putting it together. The fact that some people interpret it as that is, you know, fine. Look, we definitely have chemistry. Whether that’s a straight guy thinking we look hot together and wanting to see us make out or a gay woman that loves the idea that these women are together. 

And we have an interesting chemistry. We physically don’t really look alike and we’re very complimentary to each other. And there is a sexiness to that. We’re very different types of women and both have a certain appeal to people. It’s not that people don’t like Jane, but like Maura, or vice versa. It’s that they love the pairing. They love how that clicks. And I think that’s a really special quality to have.

Angie and I have a joke on set, when a scene isn’t totally clicking and we’re working on it we sort of go, “That’s OK, we cut great together.” That’s a great thing. That’s what you look for in casting roles. It gives us a lot of flexibility in not just playing these roles but being more playful when we play them. 

In real life many people who are close to their friends are like this. We’re not playing these characters in any way that is not natural to the way people behave when they are close to a person. We are naturally touchy feely with the people that we love. We are comfortable with our bodies around the people that we love and care for. And we do the same things with these characters, whether it’s touching each other in a scene or showing affection. That is kind of all natural. 

What works for me is the fact that regardless what the interpretation is, whether that’s a sexual relationship or not, that these are two smart women who are positive role models. Women who are not these catty stereotypical types who are fighting over who looks cuter. The fact that we can dig deeper into a friendship that can have conflict, that can be funny, that can be sexy – that to me is what I am like with my girlfriends. And I admit there is some boob grabbing going on on set. I am not going to lie and say there is not. And not just her and I, it’s all the ladies on set. 

AE: Our readers are going to be really happy to hear that.
SA: I’m not kidding. All the women who work here have an incredible rapport with each other and the men can get incredibly uncomfortable. This season there’s a lot of talk of penises. There’s a lot of penis talk. I don’t know what is going on. You’ll have to ask (series creator) Janet Tamaro about it. And whenever it happens it’s like the room is just silent. And Angie and I are giggling like seventh grade girls.

AE: Hm, well I don’t know if our readers will be as glad to hear about the penis talk.

AE: How do you feel about your gay fans who read into the subtext, love it and actively cheer it on. Do you like to see that? That they take something and interpret it in their own way?
SA: Yeah, I like that they interpret it in their own way. That’s what you want with any kind of entertainment – that people interpret it in their own way. The most important thing is they have a character or characters they relate to that in some way affects them and make them feel things. So I think that’s fantastic. That’s the ultimate goal that people care. 

We don’t set out and think about that when doing the scenes at all. I remember in the first season before it aired, we’d already shot stuff before anyone ever thought these characters would be fantastic gay icons. But I love it. We never thought that we were doing that. But again it’s just chemistry. You can just be on screen and in the same space with someone and that’s what you kind of get from it. I mean, I am a married woman and I see the two of us on screen and it’s sexy. My husband even in the very beginning said you’re hot together. You don’t have to play that, it just is. 

I just say a lot of the videos they make on YouTube and all the fan stuff can be hysterical. They can take a picture of the two of us sitting on a bench and they’ve somehow Photoshopped it so she’s just touching my knee enough and I lean my head just enough so I’m going in for a kiss. I think it’s brilliant. It’s really, really funny.

Credit: Photo Courtesy Sasha Alexander’s Twitter

AE: Both you and Angie seem very interactive with fans. You respond a lot on Twitter. Sounds like you’ve seen fanvids and things like that. Have you enjoyed interacting with fans like that and seeing the things they create about the show?
SA: Yeah, they’re pretty amazing. I mean we both get so many not only wonderful gifts and creative gifts, but pictures and books they have made for our birthdays. It’s really incredible. But again the most important thing is that they relate to these women – they remind them of their sister or their best friend or their lover. Whoever it may be, who they feel connected to. That dialogue opens up. I like the interaction and I like that they care where the dialogue is going. That part of the whole Twitter universe is fun for me.

There is something so powerful to the international aspect of television. I have fans from Brazil to Germany to Japan. You get this fan mail and you’re like someone is on the other side of the planet and they felt the desire to sit down and write to you about what this character makes them feel. That part of it is really beautiful. 

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