CASTLE’s Tamala Jones previews “The Blue Butterfly”
Tonight is the night CASTLE fans have been waiting for (no, not that night, where Castle and Beckett ride off into the sunset) – it’s the long awaited 1940s “flashback” episode that finds the team in the present embodying folks from the past as they try to solve a murder from the 40s to solve a murder from today! Castle takes on the role of the suave private eye, while Beckett is the femme fatale on the arm of guest star Mark Pellegrino. As he mentioned in our chat a few weeks ago, Seamus Dever’s playing an Irish gangster and Esposito’s right along with him. The stand out for me in the very impressive episode is Tamala Jones’ Lanie as a chanteuse who gets to belt out a song or two while the case gets solved.
Tamala and I had a chance to chat about tonight’s episode, and what to expect, plus we chatted Lanie/Esposito, Jennifer Beals, and what else is coming up this season!
The show has done so many different episodes – are so strong that they can get away with different story telling than your basic crime show. CASTLE goes dark, it goes comedic. What can you tell us about tonight’s very different hour of CASTLE?
This episode is shot like a feature film. It is amazing. It still carries all of the CASTLE elements but it takes a turn into a whole other time. You’re basically in a time machine watching “The Blue Butterfly.” The wardrobe, and the clothes, and the direction that was given to all of us – it was truly an amazing episode.
Obviously, everyone’s stepping out of their characters tonight in the flashbacks – what can you tell us about Lanie in the “Blue Butterfly” “past.”
Lanie becomes a character named Betsy, who is a chanteuse singer in a lounge. She’s best friend with the main gangster Dempsey’s girlfriend, and Betsy’s job, basically, is to entertain everyone, and to make sure everybody in the place is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
So often, the show doesn’t feel like a typical weekly series, and has that motion picture / film quality to it. Is that a treat as an actor to go work every day and see something different, to know that is going to happen?
Oh definitely! I’m excited to go to work every day. The set of CASTLE is amazingly fun. Everybody is very sweet, and we are definitely like another secondary family, other than my own. I always look forward to going to work. We have the best cast ever, and when things like this, episodes like this come up, it just makes it even more exciting to be there, and to be around everyone, just to feel their energy. We have such great energy around that set.
Everyone loves the Lanie and Javier relationship – I like that it hasn’t gone away even after a break up. Where do they stand now, and what will we see for that in the next few episodes?
As you saw in the Ryan’s wedding episode, he walks her to her seat. I think that was a nice opening up to some reconciliation between the two of them. As far as the writing goes, the ninjas in the writing room haven’t let any information out [laughs]. I don’t know which direction they’re going in, but I think it’s a good one.
Talking to everyone in the cast, they too mention the “ninjas” in the writing room, and how they’re secretive to a point, and don’t let everything out – which do you prefer: knowing what’s coming, or being as surprised as the audience, so to speak?
I like being just as surprised as the audience when reading the script. Outside of being a cast member, I love CASTLE. Even if I wasn’t on the show, I’d watch it. Reading the script when it’s time, it just makes me more excited because in 2 days I’m going to perform it. I like finding out and not knowing everything. I want to know the most important things, like if I’m singing or not? [laughs] I’d like to prepare for that. Other things I’m fine waiting to find out.
What kind of preparation goes into a role like in tonight’s episode where you find out you’re going to be singing?
Once Andrew and I agreed that I was going to be okay singing [laughs], I just went on YouTube and I went crazy. I started looking up 1940s singers, 1940s movies, and learning the body language, the attitude, the speech rhythms. It was fun, like I was doing homework. It was great; I learned a lot.
Before the show started, or as the show continues, did you have any hands on training for what an ME does, what Lanie would do in the real world?
They offered to have me visit a morgue, and I passed [laughs] because I can’t stand the sight of real blood [laughs]. I basically do all my studying, watching FORENSIC FILES, DR. G: MEDICAL EXAMINER, ON THE CASE WITH PAULA ZAHN. I love watching those, and they do help me out, basically on everything a Medical Examiner would do. Especially DR. G: MEDICAL EXAMINER. She is very matter of fact in her delivery of what is going on, or what has happened to her victim that’s laying on her slab. I try to embody as much of her in Lanie as I possibly can, because she is the real deal.
What can you tease for CASTLE fans may be coming in the next few weeks – I know there’s a big two parter coming up with Jennifer Beals?
I would say Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Beals. It’s amazing. If you’re not even a CASTLE fan, you will be come one after these two episodes. They’re very mysterious, and so far, you can look at CASTLE and say “I know what’s going to happen” but you really don’t. Well, this one is going to dive deeper about what you’re really thinking of, but you don’t know at all. Lots of mystery, lots of darkness. It’s good. It’s exciting. It’s like being on a roller coaster and you dip, and your stomach dips. It’s that kind of mystery. I think everyone’s going to enjoy that double episode.
CASTLE uses guest start so well – a lot of shows who have guests, it’s immediate, that’s the killer. The show has done so well with guessing to the end.
We have some brilliant writers who know how to take those dips and turns, and make you think you’re going right when you’re actually turning left. They are amazing with that. They make it very easy for us to perform it because it’s all on the paper.
CASTLE airs at 10/9c on ABC after an all new episode of THE BACHELOR – check it out! And for more information on CASTLE, head to their site at ABC.com!