Introducing White Collar’s Newest Cast Member, Natalie Morales

Natalie Morales is the newest series regular on the hit USA show, White Collar which Hollywood the Write Way has been following since before its series premiere. So it was only natural to sit down and interview her with my fellow bloggers who also have been following the show for as long as I have!

What about this particular role brought you to the show?
Honestly, I read the pilot and it was one of the best pilots I’ve ever read in my entire life, and I just thought that it was just something I really wanted to be a part of, and I got lucky that I got the role, you know. Everybody behind the project is so completely all about it, and it’s really, really fun and refreshing to have a cast that really gets along, and everybody is great, and it’s just like I couldn’t be luckier, to be honest with you. It’s really, really fun.

What is it about your character that you like the most?
I like her snarkiness the most. I like that she is sarcastic and funny. That’s my favorite part about that character. Not only is she smart, but she can be silly, too. You know, she can have fun at work.

What were you doing when you found out that your role got extended?
I was on set, and my manager called me, and then I high fived everybody. It was great fun.

There was a female costar, an FBI agent, in the Pilot, Diane who then mysteriously disappears, and then you appear as Lauren Cruz. Do you happen to know the dynamics there?
Well, it’s not the same role. It’s a completely different role, and I actually don’t know what exactly went on because that was before I sort of … I think I’ve heard Jeff Eastin, the executive producer, sort of explain that there was a scheduling conflict with the actress. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I know that Lauren Cruz was always intended to be a completely different role from the Diana character.

Is there anything physical that you had to train for for your role on this show?
We’ve done a little bit of tactical training. We had a really cool guy that’s a SWAT team member come in and sort of show us the ropes on what you would do busting into a house and the searching for people and all that kind of stuff, which is cool. I love that stuff. It’s a little different holding a Glock than it is holding an alien zapper gun so it’s a cool bit of training. I think I can pretty much just make up what I was doing with The Middleman guns, that actual procedure, the stuff like this that I needed to learn.

We know that Neal has a girlfriend and we know that he’s very much into her and finding her, but your character and his character, you’re getting quite chummy recently, so what’s the deal there?
Yes, you picked up on something there. I think that Neal and Lauren definitely have some chemistry going on, and, you know, right now his head is all around Kate and what’s happening with Kate, but I think that Lauren, despite the fact that it’s someone that she should keep her eye on in not the “I like you” way, it’s hard for her not to, you know?

So I think, not that what I just said made any kind of sense, I hope you understood that; the oddest way to phrase something ever. God, I can’t believe this is being transcripted, but yes, I think that there is something there for sure, and I hope and believe that it will develop in the future.

Will Lauren always be suspicious because he’s a conman?
I think so, but there’s something attractive about that. As a woman, there’s something attractive about what you can’t have and what you know very little about, especially when you have chemistry with that and you get along with it, so I think that it’s something intriguing for Lauren, and also for Neal, because they are so similar, yet come from completely different paths. You know?

What would you say is Cruz’s fascination with Neal? What draws her to him?
There’s something about how intelligent he is, which is completely on par with how intelligent she is. I don’t think that Lauren finds a lot of guys who can keep up with her, you know? And Neal not only can keep up with her, but can sort of keep her guessing, and that’s rare for her, I think. I mean she went to Quantico; she went to Cambridge; she’s up there in her class. She’s a smart girl so I think that’s what’s interesting, and also there’s a little bit of a smooth bad boy thing that every girl likes, you know?

Where would you like to see your character go in terms of next season?
That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. I think we have some incredible minds writing the show, and I definitely leave it up to them to create my character. Sometimes they don’t tell me everything in my character. For example, on the USA website it says that Lauren speaks eight languages, which I didn’t know until I read that so that might be interesting and hopefully coming in another episode in the future. I think I’d like to see her relationship with Neal, and maybe some of Lauren’s personal life and what she’s really like. We don’t really know a lot about her yet, where she comes from, who she is and what she does when she’s not at work so I think that would be interesting to see.

What would be your ideal case, crime to solve?
I actually really love conspiracies and cons and stuff like that. I love really smart crime. If I was an FBI agent, this is exactly what kind of stuff I’d be doing. Although I don’t know that the white collar division in real life is all that interesting. I don’t know that they get that many murders. I do love, like, the whole forgeries and all that stuff, especially art stuff. I think that’s so interesting, and I think I’d like to figure out bank robbers, maybe because I want to learn how to rob a bank.

Do you have a favorite scene from any of the first few episodes that we’ve seen so far?
One of my favorite scenes from the last episode is probably the scene in the file room with Neal.

Would you be interested in producing an episode?
I don’t know that I’m — yes, I mean I’d be interested in anything I’m going to do with the show. I’d love to direct some day. I don’t know if that’s in the future, but yes, definitely.

Are we going to see much more of the female relationships and interactions among each other, even though it’s predominately mostly about the boys?
So far I’ve only had one scene with Tiffani in which I didn’t have any actual lines with her, but we just say hi to each other and then leave so at this point they know each other. The two characters know each other, but I don’t think that they hang out much because she’s just one of Peter’s coworkers. I’m not really a friend of Elizabeth’s. I think that you’ll probably see more interaction of each of us with the boys, but I don’t know that it’s that much with each other. We just are in different worlds, but who knows? Who knows what they’ll write the next couple episodes. I have no idea.

How did your role on White Collar compare to your time with The Middleman?
Wendy was sort of a college-aged rebel artist who was sarcastic and funny, but yet rooted in this kind of pure love for the people around her; likely, seeing her mother and then her boyfriend, and even The Middleman, and I think it was a different character in essence, and I think Lauren is a little bit more mysterious. She’s a little more guarded and I think she’s more of an overachiever, whereas Wendy was just incredibly talented without knowing it. Lauren fought hard to get to where she is, and therefore is very guarded and very protective of what she has and who she is. I think that’s the difference I see. I don’t know the trend, like, to hold it. Maybe Lauren is just grown-up Wendy. I don’t know. That’s how I see it.

With the difference in the comedic style and the more subtle wit of White Collar, was it harder for you to get into that than The Middleman or did it play to your strengths do you think?
I think The Middleman being more of a comedy was sort of a little bit easier for me because it’s more of what I’m used to doing, and also The Middleman was sort of this crazy world so anything that I did could be explained. In this there are procedures for things. There are ways that FBI agents do things; there are ways that they say things, you know? So there are a lot more of a controlled aspect to the Lauren character and to White Collar than there was to The Middleman so in that aspect it was a little bit easier for me to get into Wendy than it was for Lauren, but yeah, I agree with you and thank you for the compliments.

Will any of your Middleman costars might be making a guest appearance on White Collar, or do you know of any special guests you’re going to on?
Oh, gosh. Wouldn’t that be great? I don’t know of any upcoming guests, and I don’t know if any of them are going to be on the show. I’d love it, though. They’re all fantastic actors.

You have made the transition from California to New York. Has there been any changes that have occurred with your lifestyle? Because the two cities are somewhat different.
Yes, they are. Well, it’s cold here now, and I don’t particularly love the cold being from Miami. I don’t really have a lot of winter clothes so I ended up just putting on a bunch of things that don’t match and looking a little bit homeless, but I’m sort of getting adjusted to it. I like living here because there’s always something to do in New York City, and it’s such an exciting place to live, especially at this point in my life so it’s fun to live here. I haven’t moved here; I’m just living here while we’re doing the show.

In the little free time that you have what do you do?
I mostly just sit around and play guitar, I think.

Are you self taught?
Yes. I’m not very good. I just like to play it a lot.

White Collar airs Fridays at 10/9c on USA.