Thursday, December 5, 2013

Robin Tunney Interview with TV Choice Magazine

A new interview to Robin by TV Choice Magazine about The Mentalist.
To read it, click on Read More.

Thanks to Van for the heads up.

She's previously appeared in Prison Break and even the pilot episode of House. But 41-year-old Robin Tunney is best known as Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon in the hit US police procedural series The Mentalist. This week marks a momentous episode in the long-running show, when Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) finally comes face-to-face with his nemesis, serial killer Red John, the man who murdered his wife and child. For Robin, it marks a turning point in the drama...

How did you feel when you realised the Red John case was finally going to be solved?
I've had such an amazing time making this show, so the fact that there's going to be some closure to that was really exciting. The idea that we're going to take these long story arcs to an end is so thrilling. People have been coming up to me in the grocery store saying, 'Get on with it. Who the hell is Red John?' Bruno [Heller, the creator] is a super-talented writer and he's really eloquently carried it on. But I think there's only so much you can do.

Did you guess who Red John was?
No – which shows you what kind of detective I am! I didn't guess, I really didn't. I don't think there's any way that I could have.

Before the shortlist of suspects, there were a lot of fans speculating that it was actually Jane. But Bruno denied that, didn't he?
Yes, and that would have been disappointing. The idea that the audience has fallen in love with and been charmed by this man and felt for him, and then turn him into a serial killer seems quite mean. I think that would be cheating and not good television.

There was also speculation it could be Lisbon!
My least favourite reaction to that gossip was that people were saying, 'Oh, come on, Red John would never be a woman!' I was like, 'OK, let's not make it sexist.' [Laughs] Women can be serial killers too, goddammit!

So what happens after the big reveal?
The show evolves into something that's different. It's not completely reinventing the wheel – it doesn't become like Twin Peaks or something. But that's pretty fun because for the past six years, I've known I was going to work on The Mentalist. So now I'm expecting to have this unknown quotient to my life. We'll continue shooting this series until April [2014], so we'll probably find out if we've got another series in May.

Do you think you've changed the way that you've played Lisbon since you first started? And do you think she's changed?
I think it's quite a slow change. When people go to the cinema, they expect the characters to really go somewhere in that 90 minutes. There's a proper character arc in a good film. But on TV, the characters evolve slowly. I don't think people want them to change within an episode. They wouldn't find it plausible, so it's been a slow change over the years. We've done some 100 or so episodes, and I think Lisbon's relationship with Jane has changed, as has my own relationship to Simon. I'm so much more comfortable with him and we work very closely. Those things kind of seep through. Plus, I think Lisbon has lightened up a bit over time. What Bruno created originally was a story of a guy who was free-spirited, with absolutely no respect for authority and who does nothing by the book. He's paired with this woman who really believes in the system and does everything by the book. And I think we've seen her beliefs go towards his. He's deeply affected who she is. If you have a boyfriend, their interests become your interests, and they really influence you. And it's like a close co-worker, too, and I think that's what Patrick's done to her. It's like couples who start looking alike and dressing alike.

That I'd like to see...
Yeah, I'd start wearing vests [waistcoats]!

A lot of people would still like to see them as a couple, and fandoms have already 'shipped' them as a couple called Jisbon...
I know. That's so crazy. I have had a lot of people asking about that. I feel like Lisbon definitely loves Jane. I don't think there's any question about that. But whether it's a romantic love or platonic love, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure if she's brave enough to act upon it. When somebody becomes your lifeline to the world and pretty much your only friend, I think the idea of acting on that is pretty terrifying!

It could ruin everything if it went wrong...
Exactly. I think the stakes get higher every year as far as how embarrassing that would be, or how lonely would she be if it went wrong. Those are very real things and I think everybody is insecure and she certainly is. [West Wing creator] Aaron Sorkin's formula for workplace dramas where you have characters who are really good at their jobs, but really bad at life certainly describes Lisbon.

When you first started filming the show, could you ever have envisaged that it would still be going strong, six seasons on?
I always thought that Simon's a really good actor and he has that thing where women fall in love with him and they're like, 'Oh, he's so adorable!' My parents came to visit and all they wanted to know was what Simon was doing. I was in the pilot for House playing a guest patient, and I did Prison Break for a year, so I only really had experience on successful shows, so I've been really lucky. I'm always surprised to hear how popular it is. We were in Monte Carlo last summer and it's apparently the most-watched show in the world. That's really shocking to me. Apparently there's a Russian version being made. I can't wait to see that!

Did you appreciate how far afield your fans are around the world?
We have such a loyal following. There are fans in places where I had no idea they'd be even vaguely interested in American shows. I was in an airport and there was a family from Pakistan, and they were so excited to see me. I had no idea the show was popular in places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They're not really into Americans or American culture, but they like The Mentalist.

The popularity of it has spawned a new phrase in the Urban Dictionary, as there's an entry about your character's shoes – they're known as Lisbon Loafers...
What? I didn't know that. That's so funny! [Laughs] Lisbon Loafers. You have on those unsexy Lisbon Loafers. Oh, but I do have a story. One night I'd gone to see a movie and I was in the car park, which is scary if you're a woman alone at night. I was over by my car and a man popped up behind me and said, 'Excuse me!' And I screamed. I screamed like I was being attacked. He wanted to know where Simon got his shoes on the show. I was like, 'Seriously, you cannot come up behind somebody like that! And to find out where Simon's shoes are from? They're really not that great.'

And congratulations on your engagement to interior designer Nicky Marmet. With your filming commitments, will it be difficult to plan your wedding and honeymoon?
It's really crazy because one minute I'll be saying that I want a big wedding with all our friends there to share our day. But the idea of having it and doing it is just so hard. When you have a full-time schedule, I think we're going to have to hire somebody to do it.

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