Marsha Thomason Talks Love and Loyalty on White Collar

Diana, Peter’s trusty FBI sidekick, has a big episode tonight on White Collar – she’s going undercover AND we finally get to meet her girlfriend, Christie! Last week, I chatted with actress Marsha Thomason about her character and what’s coming up for her on the show.

What it’s like for you to play one of the very few women who’s supposed to be “immune” to Neal?

Marsha Thomason: It’s a real honor. Because every episode there would be women tripping over him. So it’s really fun for me to play somebody who really is immune to him. You know, there’s real strength in that – and you know it’s a real challenge for Neal.

Right. He sort of doesn’t know how to deal with that. And is that sort of freeing for you in a way, to not have to play falling all over him the way everyone else is?

MT: Definitely. It really is, yes. I really love that Diana is such a badass. She really dances to her own beat and she isn’t like a lot of the women. She carries a gun and she can handle her own and roll with the boys and I really like that.

And she’s sort of understated as a gay character. It’s not like that’s the only thing about her, which seems really natural. I like that about it.

MT: Yes, I like that too, because let’s face it, being gay isn’t the only thing about people who are gay, right? I mean, gay people aren’t any one thing so I do really like that, yes.

And have you had any reactions from the gay community about that?

MT: Oh yes. I mean, the gay community have been so supportive and they’re just thrilled to see these characters on television. It’s about time and finally there’s a renaissance happening, you know. We’re just seeing all kinds of different characters being portrayed on television whether that’s gay or more black people or more Asian people, more Indian people. TV is more diverse than it’s ever been. And you know, as a minority myself, that’s very exciting.

So we’re finally going to meet [Diana’s] girlfriend, right? Coming up soon.

MT: Yes. And she’s a hottie.

Oh good. Will [the show] continue to be sort of laid back about it or will her sexuality become more of an issue?

MT: No. No. Her sexuality is a non-issue. We do meet Christie. We get to see Diana’s home life. But what’s so great about that is, Diana, Christie, Neal and Sara have a double date and nobody even talks about the fact that one of the couples is gay. I mean, it’s just four people on a double date, which I really like.

That’s awesome. And so this season, were you surprised at the direction they were going with creating this big rift between Neal and Peter? And how do you think Diana feels about that?

MT: Diana doesn’t trust Neal as far as she could throw him, and she supports Peter implicitly. So she wants to trust Neal but she doesn’t. And I think, you know, as story goes, it’s fantastic that this seed of doubt’s been sown in their relationship. I mean, let’s face it. Neal is a convicted criminal and Peter is a toeing-the-line FBI agent so it’s realistic that there would be this kind of conflict and that Neal would struggle between his old life and his new life.

So she is totally on Team Peter here, right? Diana herself is not conflicted between Neal and Peter?

MT: Oh gosh, no, no, no, no. Peter’s her boy. Absolutely.

Right, and at the end of season one, [Diana] came back just to help Peter, and she put everything on the line for him then. What do you think made her do that?

MT: I think that Peter is Diana’s mentor and she looks up to him. And she knows that he’s a brilliant FBI agent and she aspires to that. So I think there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him. There’s a lot of loyalty involved with people in law enforcement, because they have to have each other’s backs because oftentimes it’s life and death. Peter is her boy and she trusts him and she’s right to.

Given the way things are going, Diana might end up having to take Neal down. How do you think she’d feel about that?

MT: I think she’d be gutted. I don’t think she’d like it all. You know, Peter’s put a lot of trust and faith into Neal and she wouldn’t want to see Peter disappointed in that way. Also, she likes Neal. She doesn’t trust him. But she likes him.

So what’s been your favorite episode to shoot?

MT: This coming episode is really fun because not only do we get to see some of Diana’s home life, we also get to see her go undercover. I really enjoy going undercover because I get to play another character within the character I’m playing. And so in this episode next week, I go undercover and I get to use my own accent.

Oh, fun. And where would you like Diana’s character to go in the future?

MT: Undercover a lot. You know, it’s just really fun when I’m involved in the caper of the week. Some of the episodes I’m not involved quite as much, and it’s always fun to be involved.

Now, it seems like Mozzie is to Neal in some ways what Diana is to Peter. Do you think there’s any parallel there, as far as the loyalty?

MT: Yes, definitely. Definitely. They’re each other’s sidekicks I think. You know, Neal can always rely on Mozzie as Peter can with Diana. And vice versa really. Neal and Mozzie trust one another within that world that they’re in which is full of lies. They trust each other as do Peter and Diana. So yes, I hadn’t thought of that but I do think there’s a correlation between those relationships.

And how do you think Diana and Elizabeth feel about each other? They’re Peter’s two big support people, which can also be an interesting parallel.

MT: Yes. I think that they have a mutual respect towards one another. I really would like to have more with Elizabeth. I’ve never been in a scene with Elizabeth alone – whenever I’ve been in a scene, it’s a group scene. As the two women in Peter’s life, that would be kind of cool.

Is there anything else you’re excited about this season that you want to tell us about?

MT: I just like it. Getting the script is very exciting. When we get the new episode, it’s like, “Oh, what are we going to be doing? What’s happening? What’s the next part of this mythology?” I have no idea how this season’s going to pan out and I can’t wait.

We can’t wait either! To find out what happens – and how that double date goes – tune in to White Collar on Tuesdays at 9/8c on USA.

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