If you love The Mentalist, then you are in for a treat.
Daemon’s TV recently had the immense honor to chat with the extremely talented and just plain awesome Robin Tunney who plays Teresa Lisbon in the CBS’ hit series The Mentalist. She opened up about several topics ranging from the emergence of a darker Patrick Jane to the possibility of a Jane-Lisbon (aka Jisbon) romance this season.
Check out what Robin had to say below and don’t forget to watch the upcoming season 4 premiere of The Mentalist “Scarlet Ribbons” which airs Thursday, Sept. 22 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Debuting a fourth season must be exciting
Robin Tunney: Yeah, it is. It sort of gets easier every year, in a way.
How many episodes have you shot so far?
Robin Tunney: This year, we’re on the fifth right now.
Last season’s finale was pretty intense. When did you know it was going to unfold like that?
Robin Tunney: It’s funny, I don’t know how other shows are run because I don’t have a lot of experience in television, but I didn’t find out until we got the script really. There are broad strokes that Bruno [Heller] gives us, the ideas, but no, I had no idea that was going to happen which I kind of like. I feel like if you don’t know what to expect then you can’t play that or cheat it.
Does the fact that Jane shot is Red John is going to impact the relationship between Jane and Lisbon?
Robin Tunney: Yeah. I think there was definitely a trajectory in the relationship last year where you started to notice that they’re really the only people that one another trusted. We’ve had ongoing conversations about what he would do when he found Red John for the past three years and it’s always come to him saying he was going to kill him and me saying, ‘Revenge isn’t going to make you feel any better. We should put him in jail.’ So, there’s definitely the outcome of that this year.
I think it’s a really interesting idea, that people experience in their day to day lives in less dramatic circumstances, but the idea that “does getting back at somebody make the hurt go away”. I think that my character’s argument is right. It doesn’t. It doesn’t bring back your wife, or if someone has done something to you at work and you hurt them, too, it doesn’t take away your hurt.
What else can you tease about the upcoming fourth season?
Robin Tunney: I think that Jane’s character is definitely getting darker. I think we’ll see sort of less of the general playful Jane because the stakes are higher and he’s in a lot of trouble. And I think that there’s the obvious complication now with Van Pelt and Rigsby because Van Pelt’s no longer has a fiancé.
And he wasn’t a great catch after all –
Robin Tunney: No. Terrible taste in men, huh? And you get to know a little bit more about my character’s back story. We actually meet my brother and kind of find out why Lisbon is the way that she is. I think that Bruno has done a great job of having the character sort of unfold slowly.
Your character has a very clear balance between vulnerability and strength. You do a great job with that. How do you find that balance in your character?
Robin Tunney: I don’t know. I feel like television is one of those mediums where it’s a lot harder to hide behind your character. That’s why I think casting is so important in it because the hours are too long and the shoot is too long to totally embody completely someone else. I think what happens is that the writers start accommodating your strengths and weaknesses as an actor and as a person. I certainly feel that way as a human being, this idea that I have a few hats that I put on at different times and that I can be sort of tough with people and at the same time there’s a situation – I feel like that. So, maybe it’s just a result of the writing and my not being a very good actor [laughs].
That’s not certainly not the case. How do you feel about your character’s evolution throughout the seasons?
Robin Tunney: I’m really happy with it. I’m really happy with where the show’s at. I also find that it’s great as an actor because my relationship with Simon Baker’s character is obviously the central part of what my job is on the show. It’s so fun because our relationship has evolved as the characters have.
We’ve gotten to know each other and become much closer throughout the years and it sort of shows on camera, that sort of respect and also the friendship and the playfulness is something that you don’t have to fake, just like with all the relationships, like as we get to know each other. It’s kind of crazy.
That’s a great point. Jane and Lisbon have a great chemistry. This last season reinforced what we knew was there, the characters trust for each other. Is that relationship going to be more challenged because of what happened in the finale?
Robin Tunney: Well, yeah. I think he’s put me in a really bad position. It’s that thing I think where your closeness, my closeness with him has sort of made me do my job poorly at times, and I think there’s some anger there at myself with letting him get away with the stuff that I have. I think there’s sort of an attempt to get back to business, which is never going to work.
There’s a rich source of fan fiction around Jane and Lisbon, also called Jisbon. I don’t know if you knew that –
Robin Tunney: Oh, God. [laughs]
Do you think that the romance angle will be addressed this season at all?
Robin Tunney: Yeah. I think it always is and there are always these moments of will they or won’t they, and I think that’s something that’s sort of normal when there’s a male and female, friends that get along and the idea is, like, ‘Will it turn sexual?’
I think that when you respect someone and have a good time with them, it is fair enough for the audience to sort of want them to get together. But I think as soon as they did they would be very disappointed. Then there’s nothing to really root for. Where do you go from there? It’s also sort of not a show about what these people do behind closed doors at home. It’s sort of a workplace thing. I don’t think they’d be holding hands and solving crime.
But I think it’s also one of those relationships where it would take a long time anyway. I don’t think a guy who still wears his wedding ring and is avenging the death of his wife and child is really emotionally available. I’ve been playing with that and I don’t know myself. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s never been drawn out for me. I have no idea. I do know that I played the scenes like he’s her favorite person to hangout with. I don’t know if that means that they’ll have sex. We definitely won’t onscreen because it’s CBS.
Can you tell us something about your character that no one else has asked you about?
Robin Tunney: Nobody’s asked me if my character can dance or do karaoke?
Can you dance and do karaoke?
Robin Tunney: No.
If you could guest star on any other show, current or ended, which one would it be?
Robin Tunney: It would have to be either ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘I Love Lucy.’
(Photo: SONJA FLEMMING/CBS)