Tiffani Thiessen: 'White Collar' is a Dream Job

by Jarett Wieselman 4:12 PM PST, January 31, 2012
Photo: USA Films

If an actor is lucky, they'll star in a successful series at some point in their career -- and if they're really lucky, they'll star in two. But Tiffani Thiessen is currently working on her third hit show since White Collar has quickly developed the kind of devoted fan following that took Saved By The Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210 multiple seasons to establish.

And while credit must be given to the writing, fans will quickly tell you that the actors' chemistry is one of the biggest reasons why White Collar is so addictive -- and the crucial element that makes Tiffani love her job so much.

In anticipation of tonight's episode, which is very Elizabeth Burke heavy, Tiffani Thiessen rang up ETonline to talk all about her character's exciting outing, her handsome co-stars and what fans can expect from the season finale!

ETonline: It's so nice to see Elizabeth getting in on the action this season, and get away from those horrible "San Francisco" green screen backdrops!
Tiffani Thiessen: [laughs] Oh believe me, that wasn’t really one of our best moments. We joke about it now but it's funny because I had mini conversations with [Jeff] Eastin, our creator, afterwards and I'm like, "Why couldn't we just make it Los Angeles and not even do it green screen?" I was in LA and the show takes place in New York City. Even he wasn't sure why [laughs]. But tonight is a big episode for me. Super fun.

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ETonline: Tonight's episode sounds a little bit like Rear Window.
Thiessen: Oh, yea -- you could definitely say that. It was a fun episode for me -- first of all, I get to work with Willie [Garson], which is always nice. I think fans really respond to our characters together. And it's just kinda fun to kinda get into the action. I don't really get to do that most of the time.And, of course, to work opposite Joe [Manganiello, guest star] -- he's not bad on the eyes.

ETonline: Yeah ... you're just surrounded by hideous men on the show!
Thiessen: Hideous. The worst job in the world [laughs]. It's so funny because when I got the pilot, I was showing my husband the cast -- "This is Matt [Bomer], this is Tim [DeKay]" -- and he's like, "Really, this is who you're gonna be working with?" And I'm like, "Yeah, sorry!" [laughs]

Watch Joe & Matt Hit The Strip Club

ETonline: Obviously from a character standpoint, it's great to get in on the action because it gives you more to do. But from an actor-standpoint, what do you like about Elizabeth's increased role?
Thiessen: I think there are a lot of different sides to it. Elizabeth's been married to an FBI agent for over 10 years, so she knows a lot of the lingo. And then there's that whole womanly instincts -- which comes into play in tonight's episode. She feels like there's something off and she gets protective of her neighborhood, which I loved. And I've played the action girl before, so it was fun to sort of dig back into that again.

ETonline: Yes, I was a big Fastlane fan.
Thiessen: Thank you. It's funny how often I get stopped by people who want to talk about that show. It's sad that didn't go more than one season.

ETonline: I know that White Collar doesn't get too dark very often, but will we continue to see the emotional fallout from Elizabeth's kidnapping?
Thiessen: You'll see bits and pieces of it -- and that definitely plays out in this episode. I think she's a little bit sensitive right now, which is why she gets so protective of her home and her family. I think women normally do that, especially after having kids. So you'll see that it does play into this episode but it will not drag out the whole entire season.

ETonline: What else are you excited for people to see this season?
Thiessen: We have a really massive cliffhanger, which we tend to do. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. You have to hand it to the writers because they really do come up with amazing storylines and ideas. And the cliffhanger is gonna leave you in a big "Oh my God" moment yet again.

ETonline: Will this one leave Elizabeth's mortality hanging in the balance?
Thiessen: No, I promise she's OK this time. But some other people might not be.

ETonline: Since Elizabeth will clearly be back next year, what would you like to see for her?
Thiessen: The audience really responds to the relationship and marriage between myself and Tim, so I think you're gonna see even more of that. And we got a lot of feedback that people love the relationship between Mozzie and Elizabeth, which I think is so fun. Jeff Eastin thinks that this episode might become a fan favorite because it just has so much of that great dynamic between Mrs. Suit and Mozzie, so hopefully next season we'll see more of that too. What's great as you get deeper into a series is that you really get to show more and more layers to all the characters. It's like peeling an onion. New layers underneath older layers and all that stuff between all the characters just gets richer.

ETonline: This is the third show you've been able to star on for multiple seasons -- how does the White Collar experience compare to 90210 or Saved By the Bell for you at this point in your career?
Thiessen: I'm married now so my life is very different than it was in past shows that I've been on. With 90210 and Saved By the Bell, I was single. It was all about my life. So that changes a lot -- as does being a mother. But this show is so special because of the cast. I'm not joking when I say this, but this is the nicest cast I've ever been a part of and I've been doing this for 30 years, so it's huge to say that. I hope this show goes forever. I would love to work with these people for the rest of my career.

White Collar airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on USA.