White Collar Q&A with Tiffani Thiessen: Introducing White Collar's Leading Lady (July 27, 2010)

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When one thinks of White Collar, your first thought might be of its handsome and charismatic leading men but don't forget about the show's lovely leading lady—Tiffani Thiessen as Mrs. Elizabeth Burke. In a recent conference call interview, Tiffani generously discussed a little bit of everything from why she watches White Collar each week to pranks on set as well as her thoughts on why you date someone like Neal but marry Peter.

On her character, Elizabeth:

"I think probably the biggest thing that I was drawn to, even from the beginning when I read the script and even more so now that we've gotten to know her is that she plays a woman that I strive to be every day. Her marriage is very important to her and her relationship with her husband and her home life, as well [as] her career. And I strive to do that every single day of my life, and now that I add the title "Mother" to it it's even more so."

More reflections on Elizabeth:

"She's very diplomatic, which I really like. She's very reasonable. She seems to be a person that has a sense of knowing where to go down the middle when she's helping the relationship between Peter and Neal. She's almost like a little therapist. She's extremely passionate about everything that she does…her marriage, her career and her relationships. I really admire her a lot."

Peter and Elizabeth's strong marriage:

Tiffani explained, "they've been married for ten years and they have such a good rapport with each other. They've [the writers] really made the relationship between Peter and Elizabeth a strong marriage, and I don't think you see that on TV very often. I really admire them for keeping it that way."

Children for Elizabeth and Peter?

"I think they're just one of those couples that don't have kids, that they are very much involved in their careers and each other and they like the way things are. I think we definitely both feel like Neal is partially our child. And at times I think we feel Mozzie is as well."

Tiffani's thoughts on filming in New York:

"I've always had such a love for New York City ever since I was young and going there and to be able to say that I actually live there half the year, I absolutely love it. It was my husband that I really had to get to fall in love with it as much as I do. He's from Texas and it's very, very different than California and Texas. And we're excited that we get to raise our little girl half the year in New York City and half the year in Los Angeles. They're two great cities and I'm excited for her to be able to really get the culture from both."

On Season 2:

"It's a very different season for me. I just gave birth five weeks ago so I actually have been away. What we did was because I couldn't travel or fly because I was really, really pregnant when the season started, we actually ended up shooting the first six episodes in Los Angeles on a studio with a green screen behind me. The two scenes I did with Tim and then the rest of them I did where I was pretending to be in San Francisco. I actually leave next week to go back to New York and finish off the season, so I'm excited."

Her hopes for Elizabeth in the 2nd season:

"I would love to explore a little bit more of the history between Peter and Elizabeth and how they met. I'm excited about starting to interact more with Matt's character as well as Willie's character. You saw that toward the end of last season, where I was working a lot with Willie, which I think the audience really likes. So I think they're going to continue probably doing that this season when I get back to work."

Tiffani picked out Elizabeth's career:

"In the original pilot she was actually an accountant and USA didn't care for it, so they took that out and didn't mention what she did for a living. I came up with the event coordinator for many reasons. One was I always wanted to do that and personally if I never acted again that was what I wanted to do for a living. But secondly, I thought it fit really well with the city, the stylish aspect of our show and also to kind of use her at times, to bring her in with events."

Directing White Collar?

"Directing is something that I actually started quite a few years ago actually. I did a short film that actually got into the Tribeca Film Festival. White Collar would definitely be on my list that I would love to do. There are more and more women directors out there, which I love working with and I think we always can use more women directors and in every position as well."

Tiffani's dream role

"Back in the day, I wanted to be a James Bond girl. But now it's just really about enjoying who I work with, the kind of atmosphere that I'm working in, and the character. But I'm very fortunate to say that I'm actually working at a job that I absolutely love and enjoy. I feel very blessed."

On Mozzie & Elizabeth's relationship:

"Mozzie, I think, is just pure entertainment. I think she finds him quite enjoyable to hang out with. I think they love the banter. I think they love to test each other. I think it's another form of the relationship between Neal and Peter and I think you can see that a little bit with Elizabeth and Mozzie, which is kind of fun."

Dating Neal but marrying Peter.

Neal is "definitely a very charming, beautiful man, which is always fun to look at. But I have this cute saying that I always tell that you definitely want to date Neal, but you want to bring Peter home to your family. You want to marry someone like Peter."

Pranks on set.

"We have this thing where one of our camera operators is in love with Swedish Fish (the candy) and we would constantly try and do a take where we would hide a Swedish Fish somewhere in one of the scenes. It would always get caught. But we were constantly trying to do that, whether we put it on our shirt or have it on our plate. It was really funny."

She tunes in each week for White Collar.

"I do watch the show. It's actually a show that I would normally watch even if I wasn't on it. It's the kind of TV that I absolutely love. I love when you have shows and film that have the combination between comedy and drama and suspense, and to me when you have something that has all of that it really makes for good entertainment."


Congratulations to Tiffani, who as of about five weeks ago, became a first time mom to a baby girl, Harper! Plus, keep an eye out as the new mom also becomes an entrepreneur with her baby furniture line called Petite Nest. I'm sure all the White Collar enthusiasts are happy that she is back filming in New York. Can't wait to discover more about Elizabeth Burke during White Collar's sophomore season!