When Sasha Alexander auditioned to play the role of the eccentric forensic pathologist Maura Isles opposite Angie Harmon’s no-nonsense Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli for TNT’s “Rizzoli & Isles,” their chemistry was immediately evident to everyone in the room.
“She killed it,” says Harmon, “but we played a joke on her.”
Harmon asked Alexander to try it again.
“I thought, ‘Really? I thought it was pretty good,’ but then I walked back in, and all the executives stood up and started clapping,” Alexander recalls. “They offered me the job on the spot.”
Harmon, who previously starred in a couple of iterations of “Law & Order” and “Women’s Murder Club,” enjoys how the show focuses on character, not just crime procedural trappings.
“Life doesn’t just have one storyline,” she says. “We get to explore those different aspects of life even around a dead body.”
Her favorite moment of season one came in the finale, where Jane intentionally took a bullet.
“Outside of my being an egomaniacal actor, it was such a great moment, that Jane thought of such a great solution that also put her life on line,” Harmon says. “It spoke so much about her to me.”
Alexander, who previously starred on “NCIS,” says her favorite scene came when Maura went on a first date and was hitting it off with the guy until she held his hand.
“She diagnoses him with a rare skin disease and he ends up leaving her,” Alexander says. “What I find fun about this role is it goes in directions I don’t expect.”
Alexander appreciates that Maura is a smart woman who enjoys looking sharp.
“I’m not a character on ‘Gossip Girl’; I’m educated,” she says. “It was important from the beginning that the clothes not be something that was part of her vanity. This is her uniform. The costumes we look for don’t look uncomfortable. They should be a second skin to me.”
Both actresses agree that what makes their chemistry pop is their similar senses of humor.
“I make it my ultimate goal to make Angie laugh in a scene,” Alexander confesses. “If I can do something to elicit a reaction from her, I’ve succeeded.”
Minority actresses still face issues | Procedurals favor the femmes | Actresses ready to do it again | Actresses in contention
Laura Linney | Martha Plimpton | Kathy Bates | Mireille Enos | Alexander & Harmon | Emmy Rossum | Sarah Shahi | Melissa McCarthy