Marsha Thomason :: playing White Collar’s out special agent
You might know her from roles opposite hunky men like Josh Duhamel on the NBC series Las Vegas, a short stint working with Josh Holloway on Lost or dipping into the daytime soap world with James Franco last year on General Hospital but British actress Marsha Thomason is now sharing screen time with blue-eyed, six-packed dreamboat Matt Bomer on the USA hit series White Collar. As series regular Special Agent Diana Lancing, not only is she helping take down criminals and con artists but the character also happens to be gay.
EDGE’s Jim Halterman talked one-on-one with Thomason about how she originally approached playing gay on the show, how Matt Bomer often breaks her concentration with a special talent of his and her very different experiences working on Lost and with Franco on General Hospital.
Working with Matt Bomer
EDGE: How does it feel to step into the family of White Collar now that you’re a series regular?
Marsha Thomason: I’m really, really pleased. I did a couple of episodes last year and then to be brought back as a full-time cast member has been great. It seems a little cheesy to say this but I have a really good time at work and they are really nice people. It’s hard work but we laugh a lot.
EDGE: Since the second season began, you’re sharing a lot of screen time with Matt Bomer, which is not a bad thing.
MT: There’s more coming up between Matt and I and it’s really fun stuff. You get to know the characters better and they connect in a way you haven’t seen before and they’re developing that relationship.
EDGE: Any problem concentrating when you’re looking into those blue eyes of his?
MT: [laughs] The only trouble I have concentrating around Matt is listening to him sing all the time because he’s always singing. He makes up really hilarious songs. He sneezed and then just started to sing. He actually has a really good voice.
EDGE: He’s really broke out last year and there’s a lot of scrutiny and interest on him and his personal life. Is that amount of attention something you would ever want for yourself?
MT: I definitely have thought about that particularly watching it with Matt, who I know so well. I think the scrutiny comes with it. Would I want it? No! But would I want to be the lead in an incredible show? I’d be lying if I said no so it comes a part of that but that scrutiny won’t last very long especially if you don’t feed the monster. I think if I found myself in that position I’d ride the wave and break through to the other side.
Playing gay :: less a big deal
EDGE: Playing a gay character seems to be less of a big deal as it used to be. Do you see it that way?
MT: I think so. It’s certainly less of a big deal for me. I know people have their opinions about those things but I’m personally thrilled to be playing a gay character. I’m very vocal about it and I think you’re right. I think we’re seeing more gay characters on TV and it’s lovely to see in the Emmy nominations that at least three I can think of are nominated for playing gay characters and that’s forward. Things are changing slowly and slowly all the time but I wish people would just get with the program.
EDGE: How much of Diana’s personal life are we going to see on the show?
MT: As you know the show is really about the cons and all that stuff but we little bits and pieces. We definitely spend a bit of time in a number of episodes in Diana’s apartment and her girlfriend Christy... I still haven’t met Christy by the way but I hope she’s going to make an appearance at some point. We generally don’t shy away from Diana’s personal life but the show isn’t really about that.
EDGE: So let’s say you could pick any actress to be your love interest who would you pick?
MT: Let me think... Lucy Liu.
EDGE: Good pick! She’s great!
MT: And cute! I don’t think I would be so lucky but...
EDGE: How is it shooting the show in New York City where you’re right there on the busy streets with the fans and the public?
MT: You really are right in it! I lived in LA for ten years so I obviously didn’t walk anywhere. [laughs] It’s been brilliant since I’ve always wanted to live and work here in New York. I’ve been here for six months and it’s been fantastic. I’m on the subway and people are approaching me with whatever they know me from. I always thought New York was ’too cool for school’ but they love to have a chat, which is really fun. I’m enjoying it.
The Franco experience
EDGE: I have to ask you a little bit about Lost. Was that an overwhelming experience at all since it was such a high profile show?
MT: I could see how it could have been but I’ve been doing this since I was 14 and I’ve got quite a bit of experience so it wasn’t overwhelming. Was I huge fan of the show? Hell yes! I’d been watching it from the beginning and never missed an episode. I was always a diehard fan. My first few days were in the jungle but when I finally made it to the camp on the beach and I was just blown away. Oh my God! This is Lost! I’m shooting a scene with Sayid (played by Naveen Andrews) and I’m in the middle of the scene thinking ’Sweet Baby Moses! Oh my God! There’s Sawyer (played by hunky Josh Holloway)!’ It’s very rare that I do that. I haven’t joined too many shows in the middle and I never had had an experience where the show was so huge and popular and was also a show that I watched.
EDGE: Did you know going in that it would be a short-term role?
MT: Alas, I did. They said it was initially five episodes and I ended up doing about 13. I did way more than I thought I was going to do but there was always that hope with each episode. ’Oh, please. It would be so great to stay!’ But then of course Locke (Terry O’Quinn) threw a knife in my back and that was it.
EDGE: I see you on Twitter now. (@Marsha_Thomason) How you finding that experience?
MT: Are you following me?
EDGE: Of course!
MT: I’m desperate to get people following me. It’s really ridiculous! I resisted it for the longest time and it was 2 in the morning on a Saturday and I was delirious and decided to join Twitter. The next day I thought ’What have I done?’ But I’m loving it! You write silly things and it’s nice to connect with the fans in that way and I can respond.
EDGE: Everyone was scratching their heads about James Franco doing General Hospital last year but you were also in those first round of episodes. Can you talk about that experience?
MT: It was a bizarre experience in that everything I was told I was going to be doing I didn’t do. I’m kind of scratching my head on that one myself not necessarily about James but I don’t necessarily know what I was doing there. They brought me in and then they didn’t do anything. My character didn’t get a name. But, you know, It was kind of cool to be involved in this bizarre thing. People will always say ’Remember when James Franco was on General Hospital’ and I was a part of that.
White Collar airs every Tuesday at 9/8c.