BlastWestSAN DIEGO — Reporters had the chance to teleconference and chat with a happily pregnant Tiffani Theissen about her new hit show “White Collar.”

No, we weren’t allowed to ask about “Saved by the Bell.”

QUESTION: What made you want to be a part of this show?

Tiffani Thiessen: Ever since I read the script, which has been a little over a year ago now, I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the characters. I fell in love with the show, and more and more, when the cast was brought together, the more excitement I had for the show and wanting to be a part of it. This is really the first time I feel like in my whole entire career which has been over 25, 26 years of doing this that I finally feel like I’m kind of playing a role a little closer to home for me, which is kind of exciting.

QUESTION: Was there instant chemistry when everyone began working together? I know you’re very close working together with Tim and Matt as well.

TT: We are, from day one. I of course had met Tim through the testing process of us being put on screen and doing our scenes together, and we had chemistry from day one. I absolutely adore that man and then met Matt, actually, after we had already started shooting the pilot. We actually were on the same flight going to New York to shoot the pilot last year.

Then Willie Garson I actually had known just being in the business for so long. We had met prior, and I’ve always really enjoyed him and loved him, so I was really excited to know that it was actually really kind of a special cast that we were putting together. I couldn’t be more thrilled with everybody I’m working with. It’s really a nice group of people. Being away from home, it makes it so much nicer when you actually like the people you’re working with.

QUESTION: It feels like there’s more to your character than what we’ve seen. We almost feel like maybe she’s hiding something. What sort of background can we expect as we move along?

TT: I think you’ll start to see background on all of our characters, especially the guys. Surely, this show is definitely the guys’ show. It’s Matt and Tim’s show, and Willie and I definitely play more of a supporting role, but you will definitely see much more of me in the further episodes as you’re coming along. Last week or two weeks ago you saw a little bit more of what I really do for a living and kind of my career, which is really nice to kind of see because we really never saw that in the pilot, and it was something that we kind of came up with actually after we shot the pilot.

They’re definitely putting more of what I do outside of my relationship with Tim into the show a little bit, and that’ll continue on even, hopefully, in seasons from here on out, which hopefully there’ll be five to ten years of White Collar. In general, I can’t give you exact specifics, ideas of what’s going to be happening, but I can promise you you’ll see a lot more of her.

QUESTION: What about any sort of action scenes. Do you get involved in any of the sort of cops and robbers element of it?

TT: I don’t think so. It’s really not part of my character and my storyline in this show. Again, I’m definitely a supporting role, especially being that I’m the wife of Tim’s character, but you will see a lot of a triangle in a sense of what I can do and help with Matt’s character as well, especially, I think, when it involves the storyline of Kate. You’ll see that a lot as well.

QUESTION: As a first-time mother, how do you think that it will play out balancing your roles and responsibilities of motherhood and your part on White Collar?

TT: You know, that’s a very good question in the sense that I really don’t know being that I am a first-time mom, so it’ll be a very different kind of thing for me being that I’ll be working and being a mother at the same time. There are millions of people who do it. My mom did it herself, so I know I can handle it, but it’ll be a very new experience, so it’s hard to say what is going to be like. It’ll be all brand new for me.

QUESTION: Is the onscreen relationship between you and Tim’s character, Peter, seems to be loving, but also a bit strained by his professional commitments. Now, with the charming and charismatic Neal Caffrey entering the picture, how do you think this partnership will affect Elizabeth and Peter’s marriage as the show develops?

TT: I don’t know if I would actually use the word strained. I think in every marriage there’s always the challenge of making time and making priorities in their relationship when people have careers, and what you will start to see more and more is my career, being that it takes up a lot of my time as well. I think it’s going to give a lot of, not so much looking into Peter’s career and how it affects our marriage. There’s also my side of it as well.

I think she is very understanding to that. She’s been living with it for so long and knows what he does for a living, and she knows what she married. I don’t think there’s a strain to it. I think there’s a challenge. I think probably the challenge is the word I could use for that. I think what Neal brings into it is that I think my husband on the show is very kind of black and white in the way he thinks, and I think Neal is definitely much more colorful, and I think he will definitely teach my husband a little more of the colorful side of being romantic and all those things that you do need in a marriage as well.

QUESTION: I know you did a short film a couple years ago that you directed, and I wanted to know is that something you still want to be doing? Is there a chance maybe you could direct an episode of White Collar?

TT: I do. You’re so sweet. Yes, they definitely know directing is something that’s in my thinking of wanting to do more and more, and it all really just depends on time and all that. I wanted to make sure that when we started the show my focus was on my character and what I’m doing as an actress. Now with my new role coming as a mother, it’s going to be a little more challenging, but it’s definitely something I want to do more of, so yes.

QUESTION: You’ve been in the business for a long time since you were very young. If you weren’t in the entertainment business, what else would you want to be doing?

TT: It’s so funny. Last year when we did the pilot, we really didn’t know what Elizabeth’s character was going to do for a living. They had some ideas, and they kind of changed it, and then I had come to Jeff Eastin, our creator of the show and said, you know, it’s funny. I think it could work, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do if I wasn’t an actor. I’d always wanted to be an event planner, and I think it could work really well for Elizabeth’s character being that she’s in New York City. We could really show the city in a different light, and they loved it. I have to say funny enough, that was my idea, and that’s exactly what I would do if I wasn’t an actor.

QUESTION: What would you say to those that haven’t seen White Collar yet to convince them to watch?

TT: Oh gosh, well, besides having really cute guys on the show, it’s definitely the type of TV and movies that I like to see. I’m a huge fan of The “Thomas Crown Affair” and those kinds of feels of movies and shows and 48 Hours, which is so interesting, Catch Me If You Can, things like that. If people are really into those kinds of movies and those kind of story-telling, they have to watch this show. It is so absolutely entertaining. The characters are so rich and so fun to watch and follow.

As well as you see New York City in a completely different way. It’s shot in a beautiful way. It’s interesting, a lot of shows that are shot in New York City can be a little more dark and gray, and this show really, I think, kind of captures New York City in a really beautiful light, and it’s nice.

QUESTION: You’ve played a wide variety of characters. How do you think these roles have prepared you to play Elizabeth Burke?

TT: It’s funny. I think I’ve made this statement before a few times, but it is really true is that this is the first character in over 25 years of me doing this that I actually feel like it’s the closest to me that I’ve played in all the different shows and movies that I’ve done in my career. I think it’s more about myself and my own experience that I can bring to Elizabeth. She has this really solid wonderful marriage. I feel like I have that with my own husband. She’s career-driven, which I feel like I am. It’s all those things that you put towards a character like her that I feel that are definitely very much me.

QUESTION: USA Network has some big hits out there right now. How does it feel to be a part of the network?

TT: Absolutely exciting. I tell them this all the time that I feel blessed to be on such an amazing network. This is the first time I’ve ever done a cable show, and I’m utterly thrilled and over-the-moon with the fact that they’re so supportive and they’re so behind their shows, and they really do give such a great chance of us really trying to make it. It’s nice. It’s nice to feel like we’re really wanted in a sense and really have a lot of passion behind us. It’s a lovely, lovely feeling.

QUESTION: You mentioned that Elizabeth is the closest to your personality. Do you know if your pregnancy will be incorporated into the show?

TT: I don’t know. That’s actually going to be up to the writers and the executive producers and USA and Fox and everybody involved. I’m going to be still somewhat not too pregnant along when we’re finally coming to the end of the season. We really don’t have too much more left, so it’s really up to them if they want to. I’m open to whatever they feel. We tried to time it to a certain degree so I wouldn’t show too, too much.

QUESTION: We’ve also grown up watching you as you’ve grown up in front of the camera. What’re the challenges that you have if any in creating a new character knowing that you have a career behind you?

TT: Yes, well, it’s bittersweet at times. There’s good and bad. There are people who of course followed my career and who have loved the shows that I’ve done in the past and are always up to seeing something new of myself or any of my past co-stars, which is really wonderful. Then there’s always people who have opinions, and of course, that’s how the world works, and that’s A-OK.

Some people were really open and loving to the fact that I’m actually playing a role that’s quite different than what I’ve played in the past. Like I said, it’s definitely much more close to home for me, this character, but some people had a hard time with it. Some people didn’t believe the relationship between Tim and I, which is so funny to me because we had chemistry from day one, but that’s how the entertainment business works. That’s how people are, and that’s okay. Everybody has their opinions.

QUESTION: Well, we’ve seen on the show that Neal has escaped from prison for love. What’s the most romantic thing a guy’s ever done for you, and then maybe what is the cheesiest thing a guy’s ever ….

TT: Oh, gosh. Well, my husband himself is definitely romantic. I mean, he is romantic almost every day whether it’s leaving me cute little notes somewhere throughout the house or the way he proposed to just the day we got married. He was amazing and romantic in everything he did, so I’m blessed to have a husband like that. The cheesiest, God, that would be really hard. I wouldn’t want to out anybody because I feel like anybody who wants to put themselves and their heart out there is a wonderful thing, and we shouldn’t put them down for it, right?

QUESTION: You’ve been on a few shows that have been a little short lived in your career. What makes White Collar something you think can surpass a couple of seasons?

TT: Well, I think a few reasons. People are already enjoying it. We’ve had a lot of great feedback and a lot of great critics really loving the characters and the storylines and the show and us on it, which is exciting, the fact that we are on a network like USA. They are so behind us, and they really put us out there, and it’s nice to have the passion behind us because I think that helps a lot. These network shows, sometimes they don’t give it a chance, and it’s nice to know that we have somebody who’s really given us a chance. I think we, knock on wood, I think you’re going to see us for awhile.

QUESTION: On television, there tends to be a fine line between that perfect supportive spouse that’s believable and the one that is so over the top that you’re like, no one in this world exists quite like this, and you are actually doing a wonderful job being that supportive spouse that we definitely believe. How do you strike that balance, and how do you plan to keep it going?

TT: Thank you so much first of all. That’s very sweet of you to say. That means a lot to me because I really try, and Tim and I both have long talks about this as well as our creator, Jeff, that we really wanted this to be a relationship that does work on TV, not one that has a lot of problems, not one that you constantly see drama, which you see a lot on TV.

Funny enough, Tim and I come from marriages that work, that really do work like that, so I think we really take it from just our own experiences. Tim’s been married for quite some time to a wonderful woman and has two great kids. My husband and I have this wonderful relationship and humor has a lot to do with it, communication, all those things I feel that are so, so important. I take those just being from my parents who’ve been married for over 45 years. My grandparents were married for 67 years. It’s important, so I feel like I take from my own life and really try to bring what I can to the relationship and the characters.

QUESTION: Have you had a favorite moment so far, either one that’s coming up that we can keep an eye out for or one that’s already been aired?

TT: Wow, that’s hard. I think there are a couple episodes coming up that I’m definitely a little heavier in, which is kind of nice to really get to explore my character a little bit, but each episode is so exciting and so fun, and it’s such a ride that it’s hard for me to pick out one more than the other or one little bit more than the other. That’s a hard choice. I have to think about that a little longer, and I know we wouldn’t have time.

QUESTION: What kind of pressures do you think that women or you, yourself, still face as far as looks and beauty pressures and things like that?

TT: You’re right. It’s all there. It will never go away. I don’t think our business and the entertainment business in general will ever just be okay with how people are. I think we’re in a business that critiques everything we do, and you kind of just take it with a grain of salt. I look at my grandmother, and I think she’s aged beautifully, so I hope that I could be a smidgen of how she’s aged.

There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is take of yourself and do the things that make you feel good and make you healthy and age appropriately, but there’s always going to be people out there are going to say something, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Like I said, you have to take it with a grain of salt.

BLAST’S CONCEPTION ALLEN: You mentioned that you had some influence on the career of your character. That being said, are you going to be able to also provide future input into shaping and developing her as well? I know that the producers and writers have the job of carrying that out, but would you have a chance to put some input into that?

TT: It’s interesting. We are very lucky to be on a show (and that’s all of us across the board) that our executive producers and writers are very open to anything we have to say, which is so nice because not a lot of shows are like that. They believe a collaboration always works best, and not that we are there writing the show, nor is that what we’re supposed to be doing, but they’re always very open to any time we have a question or concern or have an idea, they’re always open. It’s nice to be able to get on the phone or sit down with them and talk with them about it, and we all feel that way, which is really great.

BLAST: Your character is one of the, obviously, highlights of this show. Will we have, I know you said that she won’t necessarily be doing the action.

TT: No, I don’t see that unless something changes, but who knows. I don’t see it, though.

BLAST: Will we see maybe a centered episode around her, perhaps, maybe?

TT: I don’t know. That’s a question that really I can’t answer. Again, I say the show really is Matt and Tim. It’s their show, and it was from day one. I knew that coming in. I came in knowing that this role was supportive, which I was completely happy with.

It’s funny. I’ve been doing this for so long that I was actually okay not having to work every day and having the weight of a new show on my shoulders. As well as I really just fell in love with this character, and I fell in love with the cast that they started to put together, but you’ll see definitely, there’s an episode coming up that I’m much more heavy in, and you’ll see that every now and then that I’ll be a little heavier in certain episodes. It’s not something you’re going to see every week because, again, it’s not my show. I’m a supportive role on the show.

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About The Author

Conception Allen is Blast's West Coast Bureau Chief. Known to most as Connie, she covers entertainment and has degrees in media arts and culture studies. She is also on the Blast Art Team, designing kick-ass graphics.

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