Best known for her role as popular high school cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on the beloved TV show “Saved by the Bell” of the early 90s and as the manipulative Valerie Malone in the original “Beverly Hills, 90210,” actress Tiffani Thiessen is finally back on the small screen.
After a few short-lived series including “Fast Lane” on Fox, Thiessen, 35, stars in the new USA crime drama “White Collar.” Thiessen plays Elizabeth Burke, an event planner and supportive wife of FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) who teams up with former convict Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) to solve crimes.
Along with her new show, Thiessen just announced last week that she was expecting her first child with husband actor Brady Smith. During an interview with me, she talked about her show and whether or not she’s thinking about giving her baby an unconventional name like most Hollywood parents.
“White Collar” airs every Friday at 9 p.m. on the USA Network.
In the show’s first episode, we see that Neal has escaped from prison for love. What’s the most romantic thing a guy’s ever done for you?
(Laughs) Oh, gosh. Well, my husband himself is definitely romantic. I mean, he is romantic almost every day whether it’s leaving me cute little notes somewhere throughout the house or the way he proposed to just the day we got married. He was amazing and romantic in everything he did, so I’m blessed to have a husband like that.
In Episode 2, Tim’s character recreates a Caribbean vacation on the rooftop, which Elizabeth finds a bit cheesy. What about the cheesiest thing a guy’s ever done?
The cheesiest, God, that would be really hard. I wouldn’t want to out anybody because I feel like anybody who wants to put themselves and their heart out there is a wonderful thing, and we shouldn’t put them down for it, right?
You’ve been on a few shows that have been a short-lived. What makes “White Collar” something you think can surpass a couple of seasons?
Well, I think a few reasons. People are already enjoying it. We’ve had a lot of great feedback and a lot of great critics really loving the characters and the storylines and the show and us on it, which is exciting, the fact that we are on a network like USA. They are so behind us, and they really put us out there, and it’s nice to have the passion behind us because I think that helps a lot. These network shows, sometimes they don’t give it a chance, and it’s nice to know that we have somebody who’s really given us a chance. I think – knock on wood – you’re going to see us for awhile.
My favorite scenes in the first few episodes have been where you give Peter a watch and then where you give him back his old watch.
Yes, I like those, too.
Can you explain to me the meaning behind that second scene? It seems a bit more metaphorical.
Yes, it turned out to be such a great scene, and it was such a nice story line to really see the intimacy and the realness between Peter and Elizabeth, which was really nice. I think Elizabeth’s character is always worried about her husband because of what he does for a living. I think she’s used to it, but I don’t think it takes the worry away from her, and I think it was her way of letting Peter know that she needs to know he’s okay. I do it to my husband all the time where I’m shopping for him, and I may buy him things that I think are great, but they’re not my husband. I think it was [Elizabeth’s] way of letting him know that she was wrong. It was a really nice touch. I actually really enjoyed that scene.
Are you a fan of eccentric baby names or are you thinking about more conventional ones?
We’re tooling around with a ton of names. We haven’t come up with anything solid yet. We do have some favorites, and I promise you, they’re nothing crazy. We’re very traditional people, me being from California and my husband from Texas. Yes, you’re not going to find any freaky names. I promise.