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White Collar Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Marsha Thomason on August 16, 2010 about the show White Collar.

Question:
What would you say motivates your character to get out of bed each day?

Marsha Thomason:
She just really loves solving crimes. She likes putting bad guys away. Of course, we all have a sense of right and wrong, but she really has a strong sense of that. She doesn't really deviate from it. So I think for her, her passion for being a FBI agent and getting out of bed and going to do that job everyday really is just getting the bad guys and helping innocent people.

Question:
What would you say is one of the biggest challenges you've faced while working on the show so far?

Marsha Thomason:
Well, there are a couple. One of them is some of the language that we have to use on the show. In the pilot I had on my very first day, it was this little speech and there was this big scene where we bust into this warehouse. There's an explosion and all of this. So basically every time we did it, even if you made a mistake, you just had to keep going until the end because we needed to get what bits and pieces we could. I had to say something about, "Exigent circumstance means we can do the blah, blah, blah and the thing in the face." I had no idea what exigent circumstance was or how to say it in an American accent. I was nervous because it was my first day and it was just the most mortifying moment where I booked into this thing.

I managed to get one take out and then something happened and the second take, I go, "Exigent circumstance, blah, blah." And Tim looks at me and I look at him like I don't know. I don't know what I'm saying. Just say your line. All of this through a lock, so that's one of the tricky ones, sometimes some of the language.

And then some of the action still I find a little bit tricky. I enjoy it very much, but it can get very technical. Something as simple as the handcuffs that we use, obviously they're not real handcuffs because we're dealing with actors and not perps. And so when you hook them on, the mechanism, it can just go around and around and around if that makes sense. And they can just take them off. In other words, it makes them really difficult to get on. They bounce back, and I just look completely inept. So that's one of the ones.

Question:
I understand that you read a lot on set. I was wondering what you're reading right now.

Marsha Thomason:
I just actually started, I literally just like put it in my bag and I've read a page. And then I realized I needed to get in the shower and get myself prepared for this call. But I have The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls, which apparently is fantastic. It was recommended actually by a hair stylist on the show.

I just finished reading American Music, which actually the DP on our show, Russell Fine, gave to me because his friend, Jane Mendelsohn, is the author. She wrote a book called Looking for Amelia Earhart I think it was called. I never read that one. But that's what I just finished reading. It was really wonderful, a beautiful love story.

Question:
Are you similar to your character, Diana, at all?

Marsha Thomason:
We look alike, which is kind of weird. Am I similar? Yes, she's a ball buster. Which I guess is something that could be said about me. She really has a sense of doing the right thing and I have that. We're similar in many ways, actually. I couldn't imagine having a job where I had to wear a suit every day. But other than that, I think there are many similarities between us.

Question:
It's great having you back this season and "Need to Know" has been my favorite episode so far. So you can you talk about filming it and what your favorite episode is?

Marsha Thomason:
That was my favorite episode. Though, actually Tuesday night, tomorrow night's episode is another fun one for me, another one where I go undercover. Those are my favorite ones where we go undercover because I get to play another character on top of the character I'm already playing.

For me with "Need to Know," my favorite part of it really - well, there were a few things. I loved our director, Sandy. He was fantastic. And I really enjoyed it, it's simple. I felt like Angelina Jolie. I even told him I was going to shoot him in the shoulder. He didn't believe me and then I shot him in the shoulder.

Question:
Can you talk about the pros and cons of filming in New York City?

Marsha Thomason:
Well, the pro's is that it's New York City, hello. The con is that it's so bloody humid right now and I'm in a suit all the time. And I just literally, they come and powder me, so I look like I'm smooth and cool. Underneath I'm literally dripping with sweat. It's so hot all the time. It's kind of chaotic, but I like that. For me right now, it really is just the heat. It's been a little difficult in that sense.

Question:
What was it like working opposite James Franco on General Hospital?

Marsha Thomason:
Confusing and fun. He's a really lovely guy. I already knew him a little bit just from out and about in L.A., so it was kind of fun. It was bizarre world because here I am on the set of General Hospital, a soap opera institution, with James Franco, a big movie star playing a role that honestly I didn't even know what I was doing. They told me that I was going to be involved in espionage and that my character was going to be romantically involved with James and none of those things happened. I was just confused the whole time. I was just really confused and still confused.

Question:
It didn't take too long to do the filming.

Marsha Thomason:
No, no. In soaps you literally get a take, so you need to nail it and then they move on. But I worked on it for about five weeks, just the odd day here and there, but you would never know by the amount that I was on the screen. The whole thing is just like a complete - I don't even know. I have no words. I don't even know what it was about. I didn't know what it was about because my character didn't have a name, because not one thing that they said I was going to be doing I did. I don't even know who I played and I'm just still so confused.

Question:
So would you go back and do soaps again?

Marsha Thomason:
Never say never.

Question:
What would you like personally for the writers to bring out more of in your character?

Marsha Thomason:
Ooh, la, ha! Oh my goodness. I'd really like to see the relationship with Neal explored a little more. I work with Tim a heck of a lot on the show. We have a lot of scenes together. But Neal and Diana, it's kind of a slow build, so I'm really looking forward to seeing that storyline develop.

Question:
Do you think we'll be seeing more of a possibly a dark side to her?

Marsha Thomason:
I have no idea.

Question:
I was wondering if we're going to see more of Diana's personal life and her girlfriend and all that kind of stuff.

Marsha Thomason:
Well, I was just saying actually so far, not so much. But the writers keep threatening me with that every time I ask them, "Hey, when are we going to meet Christy?" And they're like, it's coming, it's coming. But I'm hoping we meet Christy soon because I've shot quite a bit of footage in Diana's house, but Christy is never there. Maybe Diana is just full of crap. Supposed she doesn't even have a girlfriend. Maybe Diana has never had a girlfriend and she just has a secret lonely life. She just goes home and cries into her pillow and makes the whole thing up.

Question:
Maybe she's just saying it so Neal will leave her alone.

Marsha Thomason:
There's that, too. You never know. Though, that would be pretty elaborate because Peter even thinks that she has a Christy, so I don't know. I don't think she would like a Peter. I think Christy exists, but only on paper at this point.

Question:
Do the writers ever give you any background information about the character that maybe you haven't seen on the screen yet, but you use it to get information for yourself for?

Marsha Thomason:
Well, no. Everything that we've seen about Diana's background, I know about Diana's background. It basically came out in the second episode when she was in the hotel and talking to Neal. All I know is that they're not happy about her being in the FBI. They definitely wanted a different path for her. This was not part of their plan.

Question:
In regards to the relationship with Neal, is he ever going to give up in terms of trying to make you attracted to him?

Marsha Thomason:
No. Absolutely not. His ego is too big. You've seen the way women swoon when he walks into a room, because no, no, and it's sport for him. He's the guy that fakes art and steals and does all of that stuff for sport. There's no way he's ever going to give up.

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