After being on two hit shows in the 90s, popular cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on “Saved By the Bell” and the vixen villain Valerie Malone in “Beverly Hills 90210”, Tiffany Thiessen is back on USA’s “White Collar” as Elizabeth Burke. Thiessen took part in a Q&A Session with several bloggers, including our own Scotty C., to talk about the new season of “White Collar” among other things.
The new episodes of “White Collar” have Thiessen excited for what’s in store for her character Elizabeth.
“I would love to explore a little bit more of the history between Peter and Elizabeth and how they met,” Thiessen said. “And possibly maybe a little bit more, I think what they’re wanting to do, which I’m excited about is really starting to see me interact more with Matt’s character as well as Willie’s character.”
After being on “Saved By The Bell” and “Beverly Hills 90210”, it is still hard for Thiessen to get roles.
“When you have a successful show, and thankfully so far I’ve had two and going on my third, that people sometimes have a hard time taking you out of that once it’s over,” Thiessen said. “But I worked really hard to get it and luckily I won the job. I won them over.”
On “White Collar” she gets to play a strong female character and that is what hooked her.
“She really is a woman who takes her marriage, it’s very important to her and her relationship with her husband and her home life, but as well really balances her career,” Thiessen said. “I strive to do that every single day of my life, and now that I add the title ‘Mother’ to it it’s even more so. She’s very diplomatic, which I really like. She’s very reasonable. She seems to be a person that has a sense of knowing where to go down the middle when she’s helping the relationship between Peter and Neal, and I like that about her a lot.”
Thiessen thought she had a great audition for “White Collar” but waited and still hadn’t heard anything.
“I was supposedly on the short list,” Thiessen said. “And they said, ‘Oh, they actually wanted to go a different route. They thought you were too young.’ Then I started hearing some of the girls that were actually going in and auditioning with Tim and they were actually younger than I was. So I was like, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right. So I actually thought I lost the job, but then supposedly they never found the girl, they were definitely trying to go younger and it didn’t work, and so they called me back again. I did a chemistry read with Tim and we totally hit it off, and I knew it was my job.”
“White Collar” has die-hard fans and Thiessen attributes that to the writers.
“It’s very character driven, which USA strives as a station to be,” Thiessen said. “I think the biggest reason of all is the writing. Our writers are so on top of it and they really make such great scripts that we just so enjoy portraying them live.”
Thiessen has embraced ways to interact with her fans like Twitter as a way to avoid the funnel of tabloid fodder.
“To me I think it’s a much more honest way to really connect with your fan base without it being the horrible magazines out there that might not get the truth right,” Thiessen said. “At least this gives a little bit of an honest glimpse into someone’s life without it being too overdone and too personal. You get to control it, which is what I like about it.
Thiessen collaborated with the writers of “White Collar” for what her Elizabeth’s profession would be.
“Once it got picked up we really tried to explore what exactly would be the best fit for her and for the show,” Thiessen said. “I came up with the event coordinator only because-many reasons. One was I always wanted to do that and personally if I never acted again that was what I wanted to do for a living.”
With “In Plain Sight” and “Covert Affairs”, USA is helping to pave the way for strong character roles.
“This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to work for a cable network, and they’ve been one of the most passionate networks for their shows that I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve been doing this for 26, 27 years,” Thiessen said. “They’re so extremely passionate and very connected to their actors and their writers and their shows. You can see it on screen.”
The writers of “White Collar” have taken a detour from standard television by writing a good marriage for their characters.
“They’ve made the relationship between Peter and Elizabeth a strong marriage, and I don’t think you see that on TV very often. I really admire them,” Thiessen said.
Thiessen’s career span is almost 30 years in the making and thinks roles for middle-aged women have improved.
“I think there’s definitely much more (opportunities for women) in 30s and 40s both,” Thiessen said. “From watching TV myself and watching film myself I see a lot more 30s and 40s on screen, which just makes me very, very, very happy. It’s what we should be watching.”
Between “90210” and “White Collar”, she was in “Fastlane” on Fox.
“Fastlane was totally adrenaline, really fun, it was great, very stylish,” Thiessen said. “Stylish in the sense like ‘White Collar’, but much more in the sense of just the drive of the stunts and things like that. It was a great show. I was actually very sad that it went off. I still to this day get a lot of people not understanding why Fox took it off the air.
Her biggest role remains Kelly Kapowski on “Saved By the Bell” and after all of these years, people are still clamoring for a reunion.
“I think it was really great to do that reunion last year with ‘People’ magazine and we got to see everyone,” Thiessen said. “I definitely still talk to Mark Paul and Elizabeth and Mario, but to have us all together for ‘People’ magazine last year was really fun and I think that was a reunion that we felt was enough. We’re all doing our own projects and doing other things, so I don’t think we’re going to see a reunion in what the public is thinking.”
White Collar air tonight at 9/8C on USA, scroll down for a peek at tonight's all new episode.