Rizzoli & Isles: Behind the Scenes as Sasha Alexander Makes Her Directorial Debut

Marisa Roffman

Doug Hyun/TNT

As TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles heads into its final episodes, star Sasha Alexander is checking an item off her to-do list: She directed the August 15 installment of the crime drama. But while this is her first time helming an episode of TV, Alexander is no novice: “I graduated from film school at USC, in the directing program,” she says. “I have directed some short films; I’ve produced two features.”

In this episode, her character, Maura, and detective partner Jane (Angie Harmon) investigate the death of a forensic accountant and discover an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Here, Alexander shares photos from her big debut.

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Sasha Alexander

Courtesy Sasha Alexander

“From the very beginning, I had it in my contract that I would direct an episode,” Alexander says. “But it took seven seasons to make that happen! Every year, for one reason or another, scheduling did not work out.” With someone from Maura’s past playing a vital role in the episode, she faced one unexpected challenge: “acting in the episode as much as I did!”

Rizzoli & Isles

Doug Hyun/TNT

“I learned on the first day that I’m one of those directors who like to sit next to the camera on set instead of behind the monitor,” says Alexander, seen here with the crew. “I can explain to the cameraman what feeling I’m trying to get.” And happily, she had the support of the crew. “It was fun to see everybody doing what they loved to do and being part of that other side.”

Rizzoli & Isles

Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

When staging the crime scene, “there is a style to the show you have to uphold,” Alexander says. “I think it’s about what’s the best way to tell this story.” As the series approaches the finale, many of the characters are in the midst of life-changing decisions. “It is a very character-driven hour, instead of a plot-driven episode,” she says. “I’m glad about that, because we got to do more work with the actors in terms of their arcs and the storytelling.”

Rizzoli & Isles

Doug Hyun/TNT

After acting opposite Harmon for seven seasons, “the dynamic was different” when it came to directing her costar, Alexander says. (Harmon made her own directorial debut with the show’s 100th episode in July.) “That said, Angie did a phenomenal job, and I’m so proud of this episode. It was truly the most amazing experience.”

Sasha Alexander, Kristoffer Polaha

Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Alexander met guest star Kristoffer Polaha years ago, but this was the first time they worked together. “He is terrific,” she praises. “Not only is he obviously good-looking, but he’s smart and skilled.” JoBeth Williams also appears in the hour, much to the delight of Alexander. “Both of my guest stars were absolute dreams.”

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