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Fast Chat: Angie Harmon stars in 'Rizzoli & Isles'

Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in

Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in "Rizzoli & Isles." Credit: TNT Photo

Angie Harmon has proved there's dramatic life after modeling and "Baywatch Nights": The Texas-reared beauty went almost immediately from cheesecake on the beach to the FBI in L.A., co-starring in the short-lived ABC series "C-16: FBI." Then came her best-remembered stint, as Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael on "Law & Order."

But after playing Frankie Muniz's CIA handler in "Agent Cody Banks" (2003), movies didn't seem to beckon further. And once she and former Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn started having kids, the regularity of TV work again sounded promising. Now, Harmon stars as Boston police detective Jane Rizzoli alongside Sasha Alexander's sleuthing medical examiner Maura Isles in TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles," premiering Monday. Harmon spoke with frequent Newsday contributor Frank Lovece.

You seem to play a lot of people in law enforcement.

I know, don't I?

What is it about you that seems "law enforce-y"?

I'm not sure. I think a lot of it has to do with my features [being] fitting for the drama side of the entertainment world.

Not just drama, but it's that you play but cops, prosecutors . . .

It's not like you've got a lot of dramatic characters out there that aren't in that line of work. God love 'em, our cops and prosecutors and firefighters and all those people, they've got the best jobs out there. If I weren't acting, I'd be a homicide detective.

Or a model.

No, I've already done that. That's OK!

Originally the show was called "Rizzoli," although the character of Isles was there from the start. You were the first person cast. How did the title change?

"Rizzoli & Isles" is just a lot catchier than "Rizzoli." And it's a "Cagney & Lacey" thing - showing two women who are friends, who are in it together and working in a man's world.

It's funny you mention "Cagney & Lacey," since the actress who played [Cagney] in the pilot got recast when it went to series. How was it getting into and keeping a chemistry with Sasha Alexander?

When we were casting Isles, we had gone through a bunch of girls and narrowed it down, and then we had Sasha read. And when she walked out, we all kind of looked at each other with a glimmer in our eye and were like, "Oh, my God, we found her! This is her, this is her!"

We wanted to let her know right then and there she had the job, but I was, like, "OK, wait a minute. Let me go get her, and let's play a joke on her." I walked outside and went, "I'm sorry, what's your name again?" And she was like, "Sasha." And I went, "Right. Sasha. They want to do all four scenes again, but they also want us to do another one and just sort of ad-lib. Are you OK with that?" What's she going to say? "No?"

So I bring her into the room, and she looks at everyone and asks, "Can I just have the pages for the new scene, and I'll look them over very quickly?" And I went, "No, no, no! You don't need to because you've got it!" And we all just jumped up and hugged her and screamed and everything.

You're known in Hollywood for being a rare Republican, so naturally a lot of people wonder whether your support of Sarah Palin is something you'd still be comfortable with if she ran for president in 2012.

I don't know how I feel about that. I'd like to see what other kind of candidates the Republican Party comes up with. I'm not saying I don't want her to run for president, but I think it would be smart of us and behoove us to be searching out the best candidate for the job. I'm not saying she's not. I'm just saying that it's important to find the best person for the job, female or male.

Quitting the governorship before her first term was over, that disappointed a lot of her supporters.

It was the way that the press was after her consistently. And her little girl having a baby. There was a part of me as a woman that just went, "Yeah, I don't blame her at all."

Speaking of babies, you and your husband have a 11/2-year-old along with a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. Having a young family affects one's career choice.

Doing movies was what I grew up wanting as a little girl. I've got three little girls now, and it's not conducive to their lifestyle if Mommy takes off for six months and goes to Prague to shoot an epic film. I'll be able to do that sometime, I hope.

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