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


Since the first moments Sasha Alexander’s Dr. Maura Isles and Angie Harmon’s Det. Jane Rizzoli stepped on screen together, the show’s lesbian viewers have noticed something special. It wasn’t just the pair’s striking good looks together, but their genuine chemistry and frequent closeness that made our subtext-loving hearts sing. Rizzoli & Isles has amassed a large lesbian and bisexual female fanbase through its first two seasons. Now, with the show poised to premiere its third season on TNT in three weeks, we’re all anxious to see if our favorite not-gay gay cop show continues to serve up healthy helpings of LLBFF canoodling, Totally Gratuitous, Totally Gay Touching and – of course – eye sex.

Still, when last we saw these two lovely ladies of law enforcement, things were beyond tense. During a stand-off between Maura’s biological father/gangster Paddy Doyle and the police, Paddy shoots FBI Agent Dean (who happens to be Jane’s flower-bringing possible boyfriend) and then Jane shoots Paddy. Or, in other words, it’s complicated. The cast and crew has been back filming in Los Angeles (done up to look like Boston, naturally) since March and are currently shooting the sixth episode of the 15-installment season. From the set in between takes last week, Alexander spoke with AfterEllen.com about our favorite ambiguously gayzzoli duo.

Credit: Photo courtesy TNT

AfterEllen: Now Season 2 ended on quite an emotional cliff hanger. It’s hard to forgive even a LLBFF for shooting your biological father. How different will the Jane/Maura dynamic be when the third season starts?

Sasha Alexander: Well the third season begins moments after that event. We do see their initial reaction and response to all that drama. Maura is definitely spinning from all of that. There is a lot of anger and misunderstanding between her and Jane in terms of what just happened. They pick up at a place that is very intense for both of them. Maura has her dad in hospital and her mother in hospital and is really angry at Jane.

They are just in a place of a standstill. We don’t quite know how this will affect them. But then, come the second episode, something happens that brings them back together. They slowly make their way back when they start to realize what went down. Maura is coming to the realization that Paddy Doyle is not a good guy. This incident will bring them into a much deeper relationship and they do come out of it stronger.

AE: Given the natural chemistry between Angie Harmon and yourself, how was that conflict to play? Was it hard? For many viewers, it’s that chemistry that attracted them to the series in the first place. And are you anything like your characters in real life?

SA: Having them in conflict explores more color and gives us more layers to develop for those characters. Not everything has to be funny and hanging out in the spa. But it was very hard to play many times. Angie and I are joking around on set and have to turn around and play this. We even have a huge cat fight.

The characters are not us at all. We’re both very different. What we bring to it is the element of having the connection to each other and the humor. We’re both very physical, we like physical contact.

AE: It sounds like Jane and Maura will have a rough go of it in the start, but won’t be mad at each other all season, which our readers will be happy to hear. What else can people expect from the third season? I assume the Paddy Doyle storyline will continue and there will be more with Maura’s mother?

SA: Yes, we are obviously dealing with Paddy Doyle being shot. He leaves some clues for Maura to find her biological mother, which she does. And that comes with a whole other set of complications. That is definitely one storyline that we get to dive deeper into.

There is an interesting storyline with a new character who is a possible love interest for Maura, played by Eddie Cibrian. He is kind of an interesting cat. He is an artist, but she meets him on an autopsy table because they think he’s dead until he’s not. So it is kind of an interesting way to meet someone. But for Maura the big one is definitely getting to meet her biological mother.

AE: Now you mentioned love interests coming up with Cibrian guesting. Our readers and your lesbian and gay fans have been pretty adamant about the friendship/relationship between Jane and Maura being central and not too interrupted by male romantic foils.

SA: Oh, no!

AE: Do you understand that desire and do you feel blowback from fans when that happens?

SA: Well, absolutely. They absolutely have their opinions about it. Look, I don’t think either Jane or Maura are getting married or into some big thing anytime soon. So, their relationship with each other is number one. But you’ve got to keep it spicy. We’ve got to keep new people coming in and out.

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