Tina Huang plays Boston Police Department criminalist Susie Chang on Rizzoli & Isles, the woman-centered TNT series that continues to enjoy continued popularity and a devoted fanbase.

Tina Huang On Rizzoli & Isles

Of Rizzoli & Isles success, Huang told uInterview, “I think the audiences out there, audiences in general, are ready to see stories that involve real people. I mean, human beings, strong female leads. Just look at Mad Max.” Huang added, “Rizzoli and Isles shows two women that are friends, but also working professionals. It doesn’t show two women competing or being catty or fighting over a man or anything like that.”

Rizzoli & Isles also gives the female stars of the show layered and nuanced personalities. As for Huang’s senior criminalist character Susie, it would have been easy to write her off as the uptight office nerd, but it’s soon revealed that she’s got a lot more going on, including being a nudist.

“At first everyone thinks she’s like nerdy and buttoned-up, and actually she’s got all these really quirky interests you know,” said Huang, who admits she’s not nearly as comfortable with public nudity as her character. “She just doesn’t care how people see her at all. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t mind being naked around people. There’s like a sense of freedom for her. I mean I wish I had that for myself.”

Nudity aside, Susie is first and foremost an employee of the Boston Police Department, who works with the respected Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander). While acting opposite Harmon, Huang admits that it’s sometimes hard to keep a straight face, particularly when they’re shooting a tense scene.

“Sometimes Angie and I can’t look at each other because we’ll crack each other up,” Huang explained. “The relationship between Jane and Susie is very strong, you know what I mean. Like Susie looks up to her, but she’s also fearful of her. But she also judges Rizzoli’s tactics. Because it’s so awkward between the two characters, Angie and I just can’t.”

The sixth season of Rizzoli & Isles, which premiered earlier this week, will be “pretty exciting” for her character, according to Huang.

“There’s going to be some major plot development with [Susie] so I hope everyone stays tuned,” Huang told uInterview. “There’s going to be like a killer from the past and Susie’s just like really good at her job, so it might get her into a little bit of trouble.”

Rizzoli & Isles airs Tuesdays on TNT at 9/8c.

Get Rizzoli & Isles: Season 5 here:

Read more about:

Leave a comment


Q: What can viewers expect from your character Susie this season? -

Well, I can’t say too much, but it’s pretty exciting. There’s going to be some major plot development with her so I hope everyone stays tuned. There’s going to be like a killer from the past and Susie’s just like really good at her job, so it might get her into a little bit of trouble.

Q: How did you prepare to play a medical examiner? -

I’ve always been sort of interested in forensics but kind of got, ironically, a little tired of the procedural shows. I met this woman by chance at a costume party in the LA Zoo and it was Halloween and it turns out she was like, “I’m such a big fan of the show Rizzoli and Isles. I’m a medical examiner please come down to my lab I’d love to take you on a tour.” So, she totally invited me down to the LA forensics lab. She took me on a tour and I got to see this incredible lab in sort of downtown LA, a little bit further. It’s a really high tech beautiful lab with all these different floors – one for ballistics and you know another place for DNA kit,s and then another spot for just evidence. It was really cool. Really really cool.

Q: Do you get grossed out by some of the medical scenes? -

I’d like to think I’m not someone who gets grossed out by those things, but I have to say sometimes the props on set, like when they put a fake body on the steel table in the autopsy room, it can be pretty gruesome sometimes. I think I was like I need to step out for a second. But I was totally fine.

Q: What is it like playing a nudist? -

I just really love this idea that Susie seems so… At first everyone thinks she’s like nerdy and buttoned-up, and actually she’s got all these really quirky interests you know. She just doesn’t care how people see her at all. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t mind being naked around people. There’s like a sense of freedom for her. I mean I wish I had that for myself.

Q: Are you more modest than Susie? -

Yes. I mean maybe not in like the way I dress day-to-day or when I go out or whatever, but I definitely am extremely shy about being naked. I was saying to somebody recently that I did the Korean spa thing for the first time, and you gotta be totally naked. I just remember I was going with a friend. I think the first experience should have been by myself, but if a friend didn’t make me go I probably wouldn’t have. But you know, I was just being hyper-cool. Like, ‘How are you, just get naked really fast like don’t make a big deal of it.’ She must have been like, ‘Woah, you were really anxious to get naked.’ I was shy about going into the pool when you have to walk down a ladder and walk up a ladder in front of someone nude. I didn’t want her to see my bits from that angle I guess. It’s not a flattering angle!

Q: What has been your favorite moment working with Angie Harmon on the show? -

You know, there are so many favorite moments. Sometimes Angie and I can’t look at each other because we’ll crack each other up. The relationship between Jane and Susie is very strong, you know what I mean. Like Susie looks up to her, but she’s also fearful of her. But she also judges Rizzoli’s tactics. So, she’s kind of grown a lot through their interaction. But Angie, sometimes because it’s so awkward between the two characters, Angie and I just can’t. She like looks at my face and she’s like, “I got to look away, I got to look away.” And vice versa. She also likes to ad lib at the end of a scene. She always has a funny, ridiculous button at the end. You know, it usually involves like body parts, I don’t know. And Sasha’s great too. Sasha’s just so warm and like a real actor and so generous. Even playing a character like Maura Isles, who’s a bit of a...she’s not autistic right? She’s very analytical and doesn’t connect emotionally, and Sasha’s just very good at walking that line. Being present enough but also having all those scientific terms down. She’s just really amazing to work with. Both of them, they’re just so great. It’s a good time.

Q: Why do you think that this show is so popular? -

I don’t think that it is that common to have shows with strong female leads, so I think people connected to it. I think the audiences out there, audiences in general, are ready to see stories that involve real people. I mean, human beings, strong female leads. Just look at Mad Max. That’s a great example of people being ready to see a strong female lead. So I think that sets it apart because it was different. It really gave the women in the show a good focus, plus Bruce and Jordan are fantastic as well and Lorraine and Idara. So I think the comedy helps. It shows two women that are friends, but also working professionals. It dosen’t show two women competing or being catty or fighting over a man or anything like that. They are genuinely two people who respect each other and you know think of each other as best friends. So that’s a beautiful thing. I mean, that’s why Broad City is so popular too, and other female-centered shows now, so that’s great. Things are changing in Hollywood too in that way. Slowly but surely there's progress, but we want more.