If there’s an enduring crime- drama franchise on television, chances are Alana de la Garza has starred in it. Law And Order, CSI, NCIS – the 40-year-old has enjoyed roles in them all – making her perfectly placed to explain their appeal. “They’re like one-hour mini-movies that people can easily jump into and escape,” she says. “Something terrible happens, the heroes come in and save the day and by the end of the hour, hopefully, you’re uplifted and moved.”
However, her latest role, in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, wasn’t quite so formulaic. “I knew my character, Clara Seger, was a linguist,” de la Garza recalls of the early days on the offshoot of popular American police procedural Criminal Minds. “But just before we were shooting, I read the script and there was literally pages of her speaking … in Thai! I turned to my husband and said: ‘What am I going to do?'”
A few sessions with a translator later, and de la Garza was nervously speaking her lines in the episode set in Thailand. Which is just as well, as in the first series there have also been storylines in India and Morocco – Beyond Borders follows the FBI agents in the International Response Team as they attempt to solve cases involving American citizens across the globe. Clara is also a cultural anthropologist, and de la Garza has enjoyed her role as the expert “who knows everything”.
“She’s cool, she’s mellow, she wears a lot of flat shoes and linen pants – which I appreciate – and she has the knowledge.”
De la Garza thinks one of the reasons the first season has found its audience and been renewed for a second is because of its diverse settings. She says it’s great to open a script, and see the language and culture people will explore for an hour. But she has a little secret about how she manages to juggle a young family, her charity work and a globetrotting show.
“I have to tell people we film it all in Los Angeles,” she whispers. “A crew do some pickup shots, but our filming is all done on pretty amazing sets.”
Which, in an otherwise solid first season, is possibly the only real frustration.
It would be so encouraging if a hit American drama could somehow immerse itself in – and perhaps celebrate – different cultures.
“Well, I’m not frustrated,” she says with a laugh.
“I have two young babies and I can tuck them into bed at night.”
“Seriously, though, I do see what you’re saying. In Law & Order New York, the city is a character of its own. But to me, it’s not a problem on Beyond Borders. There are enough elements of the places we go to for the show to work pretty impressively.”
• Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders airs at 10pm on Sundays on OSN First HD
Source: art & life