Tiffani Thiessen Talks About Her Fun Role Amongst the WHITE COLLAR Cons and Capers

Just in time for WHITE COLLAR’s mid-season finale on August 9th, Tiffani Thiessen took a few minutes to talk with press about what she loves about Elizabeth and Peter’s relationship, what Elizabeth would have done if she had found out about the treasure, and whether she is on to Neal’s shenanigans.
Where does Elizabeth stand on the latest developments in the relationship between Neal and Peter?
TIFFANI: I always try to think that she really tries to stay right in the middle. I mean, of course her first priority is she always stands by her husband. But I’ve always thought that Elizabeth really kind of has a soft-spot for Neal and sees the good in Neal probably more often than Peter does. But I think with the questions that are surrounding the whole scenario with the treasure, she’s kind of [questioning it] as well.  You’ll see in the episode in the [mid-season] finale that a lot of those answers get answered, as well as some new drama unfolds with it.
Although Elizabeth isn’t part of the FBI or a professional con man herself, what is it about her character that allows her to contribute to certain investigations?
TIFFANI: I’ve always said that Elizabeth kind of is the voice of reason. She’s got the woman’s intuition that plays greatly into the show. She is definitely kind of the middle person between Peter and Neal at times when they kind of are butting heads.  So I definitely believe that she kind of helps bridge the gap at times between the two of them.
In last week’s episode Sara was the one who stumbled upon Neal’s secret. She found the treasure and then she ran away. What do you think would have happened if Elizabeth had been the one to find out?
TIFFANI: That’s hard.  That’s a great question. Wow. You know, I would think that she’d have a very hard time with it. I think there would be a lot of stewing of trying to figure out what’s best and on a how best to approach Peter about it.  But I do believe that she’s always behind her husband. I believe that she would have to go to him because I just think that’s part of being honest and being in a marriage and also knowing right from wrong, she is married to an FBI agent of course, but I think she always tries to see the good in Neal and so I think she would definitely explore the possibilities of what exactly went on and what exactly all of that what’s happening. I think she would figure out that maybe he was having second thoughts about it and doubts about it. I think she would see that. But I think ultimately she would have gone to her husband no matter what.
Do you think she would have given Neal a chance to do the right thing and tell Peter himself?
TIFFANI: I think so. I think she probably would have gone to Neal first, possibly before her husband, before Peter. But I definitely no matter what she would definitely go to her husband in the end.
What do you think Elizabeth sees in Neal that she sees that Peter doesn’t?
TIFFANI: I think she sees that there’s a part of Neal that really kind of envies and has a feeling of desire of wanting what possibly Elizabeth and Peter have. He plays this kind of guy that loves the ladies and likes to be moving and grooving and out and about — you know, his con guy. But I think there’s a part of him that desires to be a little more grounded and desires to kind of have a little bit of the ‘white picket fence’ and the wife and the dog and all that. And I think she sees that more than I think even [Neal or Peter] sees it.
It’s obvious that Elizabeth and Neal have a good relationship, yet he’s still a con man.  Has Elizabeth let down her guard completely or is there still a part of her that’s suspicious?
TIFFANI: I think she definitely always has suspicion. I just don’t think she lets it rule her. I don’t think she lets it guide her through her ultimate decisions. I think she comes more from the heart, where Peter comes more from what he sees on paper, if that makes sense. But I think they both have a little bit [of suspicions]. Peter definitely will make some decisions more with his heart and she will do make more decisions on what she’s been seeing or what’s been put in front of her — because she’s married to an FBI agent and she knows how that works.
In the recent episode where Neal was searching the Burke house I kind of wondered if Elizabeth really noticed him doing that and just played it cool or whether he got away with it?
TIFFANI:  I don’t think she knew that was happening at all. I actually think she was extremely into the fact that she was having a night with Mozzie. I don’t think she would ever think that that Neal would do that. So I didn’t play it that way and I don’t think she knew.
Do you think Neal will ever get his anklet off?
TIFFANI: Well, he definitely gets his anklet off every now and then, you mean more permanently? That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I think it probably might be a storyline down the line, maybe in season 5, 6, 7, who knows. I don’t think he’s going to get it off anytime soon, especially with all of the suspicion of him taking the treasure right now. I don’t think he’s going to get it off anytime soon.  It’s like you have to have good behavior before you get rewarded for the good behavior. So I don’t think he’s going to get it off any time soon.
What’s been your favorite scene to shoot with Tim DeKay?
TIFFANI: Oh gosh, favorite scene with Tim DeKay? That’s hard. That’s really hard. I think there’s a scene that [hasn’t aired] yet.  That it’s one of the last scenes in an episode coming in January or February. It’s a scene where you kind of see the sexy side of Elizabeth and Peter, which you don’t really see quite often in our relationship, and that was actually kind of fun .
Your character is really what seems to ground Peter and keeps him kind of centered.
TIFFANI: Yes. I think so. I think Elizabeth definitely does that.
What do you feel Peter brings to Elizabeth that kind of keeps her staying in their relationship because it seems he is gone a lot?
TIFFANI: I think they have a relationship where that is very understood. I think Elizabeth knew what she was marrying a long time ago and vice versa with Peter. I think they’re both very career driven people. And I think you know her career’s extremely important to her, as well as his, and it’s just kind of understood in the relationship.  Besides in their marriage, I think they’re very much consider each other their best friends and they really can turn to each other in times when they need it. So when they have that kind of basis, I think there’s a lot of understanding between the two of them.
Normally your character is not part of the central plot but in the ‘Veiled Threat’ episode it was great to see Elizabeth take on an integral part in the main caper of that episode.
TIFFANI: Yes. It was quite fun as well. It was quite fun.
It was also really great to see Elizabeth be the hero and save Peter with her catering in ‘Deadline.’ What did you think of the role reversal in that episode?
TIFFANI:  It’s always fun to kind of have little bits of role reversals happening on the show.  It’s always fun to do stuff like that and especially it’s always fun to work with some of the other actors on the show too.  I love working with Willie.  It’s always fun to work with Matt. I don’t always get to work with Matt all the time and even Sharif, I only work every now and then, which is really fun. Marsha’s really the only one that I haven’t really gotten to work with yet — and Hilarie now that she’s a part of the show.  So those are two girls that I’d love to work with a little bit more so hopefully maybe next season.
I love the relationship between Peter and Elizabeth and the way that it works.  Would you ever want to see some sort of a riff between them, not for the dramatic aspect, but also just to see how they would get through it.  Just to be a further example of you know this great marriage and how these two deal with it and that this is how all marriages should. Would that be something you’d want to do?
TIFFANI: Yes. I think they’ve touched on it lightly every now and then and you probably don’t see it quite often. I agree with that and I think any sort of trueness that we can put into our relationship I think is amazing, I think that’s great. So I do believe that it would be nice to see that a little bit more and I think we’ve heard from more people that they would like to see that as well. So it’s definitely something we could explore. I do think even though there might be at times a little friction between then, they’re always so good about communication between the two of them and really making sure that in the end they’re in the same place, that they love each over.  They may not see eye-to-eye all the time, but that’s true with every relationship. I mean, you can see the same thing where Peter and Neal don’t see eye-to-eye all the time as well. But, in the end, they try to always come together.
Do you think Elizabeth might want to have children in the future?
TIFFANI: I really do believe that Peter and Elizabeth are a couple and I call them a modern couple.  Thus, that they for whatever reason — and I’ve come up with my own possible decisions of why they don’t have children, but who knows, I’m not the writer of the show so I’m not going to say and put it out there — but I just don’t believe that they will have kids. I don’t think that’s part of their future. I think they’re extremely career driven.  I think they’re very much in a relationship where it’s about the two of them and their dog and they’re completely happy with that — and I love that about them. I love that they’re that kind of couple. I have quite a few friends that have been married for years and don’t have kids and they have a lot of godchildren and nieces and nephews and they’re extremely happy with that kind of scenario in their life.
Do you think Elizabeth would be a better FBI agent or a better con artist?
TIFFANI: Wow. Well, that’s hard. I always believe that women are better actors in their real life because I think we have an edge over men sometimes. So that’s hard to say.  But at the same time, she’s been married to an FBI agent for over ten years so she kind of knows that world really, really well. I would say probably a better FBI agent only because she’s extremely close to her husband. But not that she couldn’t be a good con artist too.
Are you going to get into any kind of stunts? Are you going to do any kind of stunt work on this show?
TIFFANI: Yes. You’ll see me do a few things in this episode that I was kind of briefly talking about. You won’t see me jumping off bridges and things like that like in FASTLANE, but you’ll see Elizabeth Burke gets her groove on in that sense.  So yes, she does.
The episode that is centering more about Elizabeth and her story, is that the one we’ve heard about in which Joe Manganiello is going to be guest starring?
TIFFANI: Yes, it is. That is the episode. He comes in and actually moves three doors down from us, from the Burke’s, and he’s our new neighbor and he’s not so nice.
Could you just tell us a little bit more about working with Joe Manganiello in that episode?
TIFFANI: It was definitely not a hard episode to work on.  He’s quite a nice looking gentleman and he was great.  He’s actually a past with Matt.  He and Matt went to school together so they were very close and good friends. But funny enough, I actually worked with him more than Matt did on the show and he was great.  He was so fun to have on the show.  He was very gung-ho about the part and we had a blast — all of us did.
What originally attracted you to the role of Elizabeth on WHITE COLLAR?
TIFFANI: There were a few things that attracted me to the role and the project in general. I thought the writing was extremely strong. I thought the characters were really thought-out. I thought they were really relatable. I thought the show was fun.  It’s the kind of TV and type of story telling that I like to watch myself.  So I definitely gravitated towards the script when I first read it. And for a little bit, it was kind of the first role that spoke to me in a personal way because I think she’s very close to my true self – where a lot of the other characters I’ve played in the past have been very different from myself. And I also loved that it was a relationship on TV, a marriage that actually works. You see a lot of times on TV and movies the relationships of people who are married and that it’s the drama of it all.  It’s the stuff that doesn’t work and this is one relationship that actually does work on camera and I like that.   I like that it’s a positive — putting marriage in a positive light.
Where would you like to see Elizabeth go say in the next season?
TIFFANI: Oh god, that’s hard. You know, we’ve started to see a little bit of it and you’ll see a little bit more in January, when we come back in January.  But I like that they’re starting to kind of pull her back into the art world again, which is kind of where she started and where she met her husband.  So I’d like to kind of see that go a little bit more, which would be kind of fun and which would help get me more involved possibly with some of the other characters in the show.
So with WHITE COLLAR in its third season, how would say that Elizabeth has evolved or changed as a woman and as a wife to Peter?
TIFFANI:  How has she changed? I think every season and every year she becomes more and more understanding. I think she finds a way to reinvent and kind of fall in love with her husband all over again — I love that about her.  I think that she, right now in this season in particular, she’s trying to figure out some possible changes in her career which is kind of fun.  The fact that she’s kind of going back into the art world again is exciting.  So I think that’s been kind of fun to kind of see some changes in her and her career, which similar to what a lot of us women go through and men too.  We kind of get to that age where we’re trying to figure out, ‘okay is this what I want to do the rest of my life.’ And I think she’s kind of there as well.  There’s a lot of things I think she’s [discovered].  She’s found a great relationship with Mozzie, which has been really fun as well, and the fact that she’s kind of grown very close to him and is always working with Willie is quite fun.  So it’s been great to actually explore that relationship more this season with him.
What’s something that you’ve learned about yourself since you started on the show?
TIFFANI: That I’ve learned about myself? Well, I’ve learned especially in the last year, that I can still have 4:00 a.m. call times and not have any sleep after having a child. My body has been put through a lot.  So has my head and I can still continue to go. But I have to say it’s one of the funnest shows I’ve been on and worked on. I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, which is a long time and I’ve done a lot of different shows and a lot of different projects. But this is one project I really enjoy going to work on for the days that I go to work. I enjoy working with the people that I’ve been working with and I haven’t been able to say that about every job that I’ve had.
What is one character trait that you admire about Elizabeth that you don’t have in real life but that you wish you had?
TIFFANI: I think at times she probably has a little more patience and understanding than I do. I think sometimes that I am quick to make decisions because I’m a very fast-paced person in real life. I’m kind of a go-go-go kind of girl and so I think that also kind of goes into my mind in making up my mind in certain ways and decisions; whereas, I think she’s takes it all in, digests this a little more, and makes the decision based on how she feels about it after awhile, which is probably the smarter way to go.  But I think mine comes from a passion, not that hers isn’t either, I just think that she’s much more [patient]. I think it also has to do with the fact that Elizabeth’s been married longer than I have and has been in a long, very serious relationship for quite some time. I just celebrated my six years and she’s over ten years, so she’s got a little more experience than I do. But like I said, we do have a lot of similarities and there’s a part of me that strives to be like her every day because I think she is a great woman, I really do.
You invest a lot in Elizabeth’s character because you’re the actress playing her, but what does Elizabeth give back to you?
TIFFANI: Again, I love the patience that Elizabeth has. I think she’s one of the most patient people I’ve definitely played in my career for sure. I also love that she really has her priorities really I think intact.  The fact that she’s definitely very passionate about her career and she’s extremely passionate about her home life and her husband. I think she’s really got the balance thing going. I think I’m constantly striving for that in my real life, especially now having the kid added to the mix. I just love that she always seems to have her ducks in a row per se.  So that’s definitely one of the bigger things that I love about her. . . She’s also very easy going and kind of just almost worldly in the sense that she just kind of knows what’s happening.  I mean, I think she has this intuition that I think all of us have, I just think she’s got more experience with it lately — especially with the whole Peter and Neal relationship.  I think she kind of understands it sometimes better than they do and they’re the ones involved. But I think sometimes that is because she’s not involved completely.  She’s kind of just outside of the box of it.  She can look at it a little clearer than the boys can.
A lot of people say that WHITE COLLAR and USA Network shows in general have such a wonderful cast of characters, but it’s also really great to see smart, capable women who have fully developed personalities and motivations and that sort of thing. What is it like for you as an actress to work on a show like that?
TIFFANI: It’s great.  It’s one of the things that I was attracted to when I read the pilot. I loved that Elizabeth herself was in a marriage that was healthy and it was a marriage that you don’t really see quite often on TV. It works.  That’s what’s so nice about it and I loved the honestly — I loved the connection that Peter and Elizabeth have. And I love the fact that Elizabeth is a smart woman.  She’s extremely passionate. And I think she’s got her priorities straight.  She just seems to kind of have it all together, a really nice package, and I really strive to be like that every day.
Will we see Elizabeth and Satchmo [the Burke’s dog] getting back into the con anytime soon?
TIFFANI: You definitely see me, for sure. You’ll see me in the [mid] season finale.  Something very big happens in the [mid] season finale and I hope you guys will like it.  It’s definitely one of our better episodes.  It’s pretty exciting. Then you definitely see it unfold next January when we come back and I’m very much involved in that as well as another episode that comes after that.  But I get very involved with it. I spoke with briefly earlier about where it’s an episode that I kind of come up with a case and crack the case myself. So you’ll definitely see a lot more of Elizabeth, which is quite fun.
What can you tell us about Satchmo?
TIFFANI: Well, this season his real name is Jackson.  We’ve actually had a different dog every season.  I don’t know if you realized that. I think in the first season, he was a little chunkier.  In the second season, he was a little younger and this season he’s right in the middle. This year he’s a great dog named Jackson. . . He’s actually quite sweet.  He’s a dog that definitely wants to impress. He’s still got a little puppy in him, so he’s still got a little bit of child-like behavior, which is kind of funny. But all in all, he’s a very sweet dog and he loves to be petted.  He’s a big licker as well, so you got to be careful.
In a recent episode your husband Brady Smith was a guest star on the show. Do you think he had fun playing the bad guy, because it really looked like he was enjoying it?
TIFFANI: I know. It’s so funny.  We got a lot of feedback from our friends and family on how great of a bad guy he was, when he truly is such the nicest guy in real life. But he had a blast.  He loves being able to play a character that, of course, is completely different than him.  He loved getting to work with my co-stars, which he personally knows very well being that he’s my husband. So he had a blast.  He really had a great time and enjoyed every second of it.
Is Brady a fan of the show as well?
TIFFANI: Oh, yes! He watches every Tuesday.  When we’re home and I’m not out having to do something or trying to put the baby down to bed, we are definitely fans of WHITE COLLAR.
What was it like getting to work with your husband on an episode of WHITE COLLAR?
TIFFANI: It was great. Sadly, I didn’t get to have one scene with him.  So I didn’t get to physically work with him, but it was great to have him a part of the show for the episode. He had a blast. It was nice for him to come on the show being that he knew everybody ahead of schedule.  So it was a really comfortable for him and he really did have a blast. He loved working with everybody. It was just [funny that] one person he didn’t get to work with is his wife!
Could you talk a little bit more about whether we can expect to see a larger role for you in the show in the future?
TIFFANI: Yes. I mean, there’s two things. I am definitely like Willie Garson on the show.  We’re definitely more supporting on the show and you won’t see me every episode up front, but there are episodes coming as well, when we coming back in January, that you’ll see more of me up front, which has been really fun. I have an episode coming up where I actually come up with a case on my own and crack it myself, which was really a fun episode to shoot.  We shot that a few weeks ago. So you will see more of that. I thought it was fun for even Tim to do.  It was kind of really fun side for him. I thought he was great in that episode and it was really super fun to kind of get involved with my husband [in that episode] in a different way. It was great.  We had a blast and I loved being in the episodes a little bit more and having some more kind of activity to do. It was quite fun.
Is there any particular scene that you’ve shot this season that really stands out in your memory?
TIFFANI: It’s hard.  Because I’ve actually had a lot more to do in the last few weeks, so it’s been really fun with a lot of these things that I’ve done. I’ll have to tweet this one picture, but I’m going to wait and do it until it gets closer to our series premiere in January. But I did an episode — it’s the episode that actually is the first episode that brings us back in January — and I have this kind of stunt that I do that’s really funny and I actually wrecked a chair in the middle of it.  I’ll show you guys a picture of it.  Like I said it’s really quite funny and that was actually a really fun scene to do.
What would you say is your favorite thing about working on WHITE COLLAR?
TIFFANI: Oh gosh. I mean, it’s one of the nicest casts and crew I have ever worked in the almost 30 years I’ve been doing this and we laugh constantly when we’re working.  I mean between Tim and Willie, who loves to make people laugh, it’s just such a fun set to work on. I wish everybody could come and visit for even five minutes.  They could see how much fun we’re having.  Hopefully it translates on screen with the fun that we’re having in real life.   It’s funny because we even see each other on our off time. We actually do send time together when we’re not shooting, which is rare.
To see whether Neal and Mozzie’s secret treasure has finally put them in the FBI’s cross-hairs, and the mystery that Elizabeth finds herself caught up in, be sure to catch the mid-season finale of WHITE COLLAR on Tuesday, August 9th at 9:00 p.m. on USA Network. Catch up on past episode you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv

Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).