I had the great pleasure of getting a few minutes to chat with Tamala Jones, who plays Dr. Lanie Parrish on ABC’s “Castle“. We discussed the upcoming 1940s themed episode “The Blue Butterfly” and the direction the series is taking this season.
KarenL: This season of Castle seems to be highlighting the characters – letting the actors shine. Do you think we’ll get an opportunity to find out more about Lanie, and in which direction would you like to see her travel?
Tamala Jones: I hope that we get to find out more about Lanie. The truth is we only have 45 minutes, but they’ve been giving Lanie a lot more to do and I love what they’ve done with her so far. Personally I would love to see more into her, like what’s going on with you, who’s your mom, why are you so closed off when it comes to marriage, did you have a husband – I’d like to see all of that.
TJ: But you know, Andrew is very secretive in his writing, and we only know what we’re going to do when it’s close to time to perform. So, we’ll see what happens.
KL: I’m sure we’d all like to see more too.
KL: “The Blue Butterfly” looks amazing. We’ve been given a few teases about the look and feel of the episode – what were the challenges in regards to shooting a period piece?
TJ: I don’t think the challenges were with any of the actors at all. I think we were all excited to switch it up a bit and go back in a time machine to the 1940s. I think that it was more of an adjustment for the crew that had to deal with those sets, and get them ready, and have them looking like we were in the 1940s.
KL: Did you alter your speech patterns and things like that?
TJ: Oh definitely. I think that all of us individually did homework and when we came together on-set it just fit together like a puzzle. We all had the energy, the dialect, the speech pattern from that time – it was beautiful.
KL: Things have come a long way for women on TV since Lucy. Shows like “Police Woman”, and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” started featuring strong female characters. Castle is unique in that all the regular female characters are independent and empowered in one way or another. If there’s one impression you want to leave on female viewers, what would it be?
TJ: Me as an individual or as Lanie?
KL: Either way.
TJ: Well, for me as an individual, I would like to leave the impression that, you know, you see women in these characters, you know women are very strong and very powerful in this day and age – and we all have to support each other. So I hope that my character that I play, and that Stana’s character, Beckett, touches you in some way – to make you go out and accomplish whatever it is that’s important to you as a woman. And not shy away from it because you are a woman.
KL: You two – at least your characters – you play off each other well, and it’s very believable that you guys would be friends even though you’re kind of an odd coupling. And I love how you tease her about Castle. I had a dream once that Lanie was planning something to get Castle and Beckett together, and for you to get back together with Javi, and you would try to come on to Castle to make them both jealous.
TJ: (Laughs) I love that!
KL: That would really be difficult for you right? Because Nathan’s just horrible.
TJ: Oh my God – he’s hideous. (laughs) That is really funny! I like that. I might have to take that and pitch that to Andrew.
KL: Feel free – I think that would be neat.
Castle: “The Blue Butterfly” airs February 6th on ABC.
Tamala Jones has created a varied career based on her prodigious talent, working steadily in comedic and dramatic projects for both film and television. At 20 she made her feature film debut in “How to Make an American Quilt” as the great-grandmother of Maya Angelou’s character. That same year she racked up television roles in “The Wayans Bros.,” “The Parent ‘Hood” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” as well as a recurring role as Joanie on “ER.” From there she joined the regular cast of the ABC drama “Dangerous Minds,” which gave her a chance to show her dramatic chops as a teenage mother facing parenthood and an abusive spouse.
In 1997 Jones landed a supporting role in the popular comedy “Booty Call” and a recurring turn on “Veronica’s Closet.” She was next featured in the teen comedy “Can’t Hardly Wait.” That same year she was cast in a more grown-up role as a divorcee on “For Your Love,” showcasing a winning combination of irreverent moxie and surprising sweetness.
Jones was featured in both the romantic drama “The Wood” and the action comedy “Blue Streak,” then was seen in the musical drama “Turn it Up” and the comedies “The Ladies Man” and “Next Friday.” On television she amassed credits that included a turn as Lucille of rock song fame in the biopic “Little Richard.” In 2001 she renewed her focus on the big screen in supporting roles in the African-American ensemble features “The Brothers” and “Kingdom Come,” which gave her the opportunity to create characters while working alongside more experienced performers. Later that year Jones was one of the women being schooled in the management of men by Vivica A. Fox’s savvy but stumped character in the comedy, “Two Can Play That Game,” and in “On the Line” she had a turn as an ambitious and controlling advertising executive who clashes with the idealistic hero, portrayed by *NSYNC’s Lance Bass. In 2003 she worked opposite Chris Rock in “Head of State” and had a co-starring role as the wife of Traci Morgan in the self titled “Traci Morgan Show.”
Since then, Jones has co-produced an independent movie, “Nora’s Hair Salon,” and starred in several more films, two of which were “Daddy Day Camp,” with Cuba Gooding Jr., and “Janky Promoters,” opposite Mike Epps. In late 2009 she appeared on the big screen in the Oscar-nominated feature “Up in the Air,” with George Clooney. In 2010 she completed post production on another independent film she co-produced entitled “35 and Ticking,” in which she also stars alongside Nicole Ari Parker, Keith Robinson and Wendy Raquel Robinson.
CASTLE AND BECKETT FIND THEMSELVES IN FLASHBACK MODE TO THE 1940S, ON ABC’S “CASTLE”
Mark Pellegrino Guest Stars
“The Blue Butterfly” – When Castle and Beckett investigate the killing of a treasure hunter, they discover the case is linked to a mysterious homicide from 1947 involving a hard-boiled private detective. Castle realizes the only way to solve the present-day murder is to solve the murder from the past. The 1947 case comes to life through stylized flashbacks, featuring Castle as the private eye and Beckett as a femme fatale, on “Castle,” MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.
“Castle” stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, Stana Katic as NYPD Detective Kate Beckett, Susan Sullivan as Martha Rodgers, Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle, Penny Johnson Jerald as NYPD Captain Victoria Gates, Tamala Jones as Medical Examiner Lanie Parish, Jon Huertas as NYPD Detective Javier Esposito, and Seamus Dever as NYPD Detective Kevin Ryan.
Guest Cast: Mark Pellegrino as Tom Dempsey, Patrick Cassidy as Clyde Belasco, Chad Everett as Jerry Maddox, Ellen Geer as Viola Maddox, Darin Toonder as Frankie.
“The Blue Butterfly” was written by Terrence Paul Winter and directed by Chuck Bowman (executive producer Rob Bowman’s father).
“Castle” is produced by ABC Studios. Andrew Marlowe serves as executive producer/writer, along with executive producers Rob Bowman, David Amann, Laurie Zaks and Armyan Bernstein
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