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AUSXIP Interview with Jan Nash
Interviewed by Lori
- March 2015

These interviews are EXCLUSIVE to AUSXIP and are copyrighted to the individual interviewer. No portion of the interviews must be used without the prior permission.

I had the chance to talk with Rizzoli & Isles Executive Producer Jan Nash last week. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to Jan about the show and I hope you enjoy the interview.

With this show each episode has 2 parts, the case and the journey of the characters? Going into the sixth season of the show which of these is harder to come with storylines for and is one easier to write than the other?

I think the answer to that question is different for every writer that comes to the show and writers that went before, because some people are drawn to the crime part and some the personal side of the stories. My own experience is the crime part is a little bit harder for me, not because the show is in its 6th season, but because I’ve been on so many crime shows and it’s hard when someone pitches a crime story that you’re like, did we do that here or the other shows I was on. And so I think the crime part is harder because you want to try and do it in a way that is clean, simple and doesn’t take away time that you’d like to give to the other stories. With the other stories, I feel that these are such interesting characters and just the little things that we’ve started to throw in with season 5 with threads continuing  to unwind, there is a lot of room to tell stories that are about these characters and relationships and so far we have not had any trouble coming up with things.

I’ve liked the little things that you’ve added like the action figure on Frost’s desk.

Thank you. Obviously when I came to this show there were a lot of stories that were already in motion and a lot of last season was about letting those stories play out in what felt like a good and human way and continuing that. Some of that has not been fully realized yet because everyone has not had the luxury of seeing the end of season 5. Some things that will continue to unfold toward the end of the season will be things that if only in a little way will continue to unfold in season 6 on a personal level.


How much collaboration do you and the writers have with the actors in regards to possible storylines?

This is a very talented group of actors and they know their characters very well. There certainly have been situations where people have come and made suggestions, often to build on stories that we have set in motion and there have been some things, like for instant, last year Angie mentioned offhand that she had always wanted to jump off of something and that became the inspiration for the episode 12 cliffhanger. But in terms of pitching specific things, they pitch things in scenes more than story arcs. I think that is likely a function of the fact that the actor’s jobs are very difficult and they have a lot of work to do and so they don’t necessarily have the time to be thinking about the things that the writers are paid to think about. So god bless all the actors and writers for being so good at what they do.


One change you’ve made was moving away from the Division One Café to the more original Dirty Robber. What brought that about?

To be honest, it was more pragmatic than anything else. The Division One Café was not a particularly lovely or easy place to shoot in. We felt we could make the Dirty Robber a very visually appealing place and it’s much easier to shoot in than the cafe just by virtue of where it was and where the walls were. That became a starting place where it unfolded in ways that we really liked, in that it sort of fit with the storyline that we had set in motion about Korsak thinking about what the next stages of his career will be. Vince performing in the Dirty Robber drove us to the idea of having him buy the Dirty Robber which then allowed us to take the story in new ways that were very satisfying to us in terms of stories and the characters.

This season was a tough one for the characters.

Season 5 was a season that seemed to have loss as its theme and there will continue to be some of that as we get to the end of the season. This is not a downbeat show and we obviously want to end season 5 in a place where we see this family of characters has helped each other through difficult times and will continue to be there for each other and hopefully move on to new and good things. So our hope will be that when people get to the end of season 5 that they will feel on some level that the journey through all of these things has been completed and that we are ready to start into season 6 in a new way with this family of characters together, on each other’s side and with big smiles on their faces.


You tweeted about the new set for Frankie’s apartment, and I feel the character of Frankie is less fleshed out than others so what changes do you have in store for Jordan ?

We are in season 5 and I don’t want to get too much into season 6, but I don’t disagree with your assessment.   I think that Jordan’s character has not gotten the examination that some of the other characters have gotten. I think that he is not only an important member of the Rizzoli family but of this broader family of characters that includes Maura, Vince, and now Nina.  A little more attention is long overdue, but it’s always in the context of how that reflects on Jane and Maura, who are at the center of the show.

You have a tough job of balancing everyone in the show.

I wouldn’t say it’s a tough job. It’s a very good job and I feel very fortunate to have the job. Even though this is not a network season, at the end of this season I think we will be close to 100 episodes, so a lot of stories have been told.   A lot of stories have been told individually about Jane or Maura, and about Jane-and-Maura, and there is always a way to learn something new about them by approaching the stories through another character’s perspective, like Frankie.


In regards to season 5, a lot of fans have felt that Maura’s role was lessoned and there was less interaction between the ladies. What’s ahead for Maura that will make the fans happy?

With season 5 they are going to get to see the remaining episodes and they can decide how they feel about the stories that we’ve told in the episodes that we’ve done. I’m not going to talk about season 6 because we are a long way from season 6, but what I would say is there were a number of storylines that existed in the show before I got here that were Jane centric stories and that we have played out those stories to the best of our ability and I think have told, from my perspective, some very good stories about Jane and Maura being friends and supporting each other. People can agree or disagree that it is the same, different, better, or worse than what was done before, but we are telling stories that we are very excited about and trying to be true to the characters as we see them. I think now having gone through a number of stories that might have seemed more Jane centric to people just by virtue of what they were about…there is not an easy way to tell a story about Jane Rizzoli being pregnant and making it a Maura centric story. Hopefully the episodes that are at the end of the season people will look and say that’s Rizzoli and Isles. I don’t quite know what to say about that because I don’t agree and so it’s hard for me to evaluate that and again that’s what people think and I’m not going to say that they are wrong, because those are their feelings and feelings are real. But I believe we have told some very, very good stories for all of the characters of the show and some very good stories about the relationships and the specific friendship of Jane and Maura. I’m really proud of the work that the writers have done and that Angie and Sasha have done embodying those stories.

Fans can be very vocal for their favorites.

They can be very vocal and god bless them for being so passionate about the show. I’ve been on a lot of shows that did not have the passionate people who cared desperately about the show. I’m grateful and delighted to be on a show where people care so much about the show, characters, and the stories.  It’s a wonderful thing. We are grateful that people care so much about the work that we are doing, but we know that there are going to be some where they are like they really missed the ball on that one. We are not trying to swing and miss, but people are going to look at it and say this one isn’t going to make my list of the 10 best episodes of R&I ever but hopefully over the course of a season they see enough episodes that remind them of what they love about the show that they keep coming back. We are here every week working hard trying to make the best show we can and it’s very gratifying when people respond to it and it appears we have been lucky enough that they have done that so far.

The last episodes of the season, what’s in store?

There are some really fun mysteries and crimes, some really satisfying personal things that will come up including the girls go on a road trip in episode 18 and I can’t speak for the fans but I really enjoyed it.