Khandi Alexander

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at April 21, 2006 - 2:40 PM GMT

For four years, actress Khandi Alexander has portrayed compassionate coroner Alexx Woods with a unique mixture of sensitivity and strength. Prior to signing on as a regular on CSI: Miami in 2002, Alexander had roles in television series such as ER and News Radio and movies like There's Something About Mary and What's Love Got to Do With It?. Alexander, whose official website is Khandiland.com spoke with CSI Files' Kristine Huntley about the end of the show's exciting fourth season.

CSI Files: Alexx has had a couple of great storylines this year! What was your take on Alexx putting up the signs in her neighborhood about the pedophile being around ("Deviant")?

Khandi Alexander: I really liked that storyline a lot because I don't have children but I would assume if you were someone's mother and you knew these people were in the neighborhood you'd do everything you could to protect them. I remember reading up on a lot of it when we were filming the episode, and the recidivism rate is so huge that's it's scary, it's absolutely terrifying! And children are helpless and at the same time you're raising them to be independent, so you have to be able to let them play outside, let them walk to school. But, my goodness, I have so much respect for parents these days! I just donít know what it really takes to bring up a child in this day and age. It's very nice to have that experience as an actress because I don't have it in my real life. The writers are so great on the show and I love it when they give me something extra to do.

CSI Files: What did you think of the political web Alexx got caught up in when the chief medical examiner was trying to get her off the day shift ("Deviant")?

Alexander: Unbelievable! When I read it before we filmed it, "I thought oh my God!" I understood the way I was directed but it was really funny because in real life I probably would have gone, "Are you kidding? I'm not leaving the scene!" But politics on any job require you to play or sometimes you have to be willing to move on. So I liked it.

CSI Files: Were you happy that in the end Alexx did stick to her guns and insist on staying with the team?

Alexander: I wouldn't have had it any other way because when you think about the life of the character within the longevity of the show, Horatio has saved my life before. The character has been kidnapped, all these things have happened to her! Why in the world would she ever choose to work with anyone else? And I have a special relationship with Horatio's character where I like to think of my character as being all about the head, science and education and Horatio is all about the gut, so there's a particular excitement that I have when I get the chance to work with him, and any involvement I get to solve the case, be it the autopsy or the scene of the crime--it's an excitement I get from him because he works from a different area than I do. Working with [David Caruso] is very exciting for me.

CSI Files: Alexx has also gotten close to Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo). How do you think Alexx feels about him after the fact that she prescribed him antibiotics came out (in "Deviant")? Does she feel he betrayed her?

Alexander: I actually can't comment on it because there's something very unexpected that's going to happen between our characters and a matter of betrayal, so I don't want to give anything away.

CSI Files: I take it that might be related to the mole in the lab plotline! Do you have any guesses as to who the mole might be?

Alexander: No comment!

CSI Files: What's your opinion on the mole storyline in general?

Alexander: Well, I thought it was a pretty good idea because the suspense is there. You not only have the suspense of the episode each week, of finding out the homicide, but now you have the internal pressure put on the situation as well, so I thought it was a very good choice. As an actor, it gives us something exciting. For a long time, a lot of us may or may not have known. So it was exciting [thinking], "I wonder who knows this." You can't tell anyone if you know, so it's exciting for us, too.

CSI Files: It must be fun to play!

Alexander: Up until the point when you start thinking it's you--then it's not fun. Then the fun stops!

CSI Files: How did you feel about the storyline in "Payback" where Alexx confronted the doctor who was hiding that he had Parkinson's and accidentally killed a patient on the table?

Alexander: I really liked that storyline and in particular working with that actor. Sometimes we will do a show and the storyline once we form it becomes very strong, and as a result they choose to lift it from that particular episode and put it somewhere else. And that's what they did [with this storyline]. I never got to speak to that actor again, but I'm sure he was watching the show waiting for his storyline and it wasn't there--they actually lifted it and put it in a different episode.

I thought that was pretty interesting and very clever, because if you think about it, if that's someone's profession, what do you do? If that's what you love and that's your bread and butter, and then all of the sudden you're stricken with this disease. So I thought that was very clever, and it was a joy to work with the actor who played the doctor that was ill. And during my research I read quite a few doctors have substance abuse problems or sometimes they self-medicate and I'm sure that must be hard. That's got to be hard, to have the ability to diagnose yourself and then to take it upon yourself to be your own doctor as opposed to getting another opinion from someone else even. I'm sure that's very hard.

CSI Files: Overall, what is your favorite thing about Alexx?

Alexander: My favorite thing about the character is that she speaks to the dead, that she cares enough to remember that this is someone's mother or father or sister or brother, and that she is always aware of the human condition and how fragile life is, and the compassion that she has that connects her to the life force that is no longer there. As opposed to just a dead body that is lying on the table, she sees a person and the shame of how short the life was or how violently it may have ended. And she is not immune to that; she remains in touch with the human spirit, and that is what I love about her more than anything else.

CSI Files: That is something unique about her, and special, especially given that the networks are dominated by crime dramas.

Alexander: Absolutely. And we have a long history of hit medical examiners, all the way back to Quincy. Everyone always deals with the body just as a slab of meat. The thing that made me want to do the role was the fact that I had never seen this before. I had never seen a coroner care compassionately about this body, this corpse as a person. And that's what I love.

CSI Files: Do you have a favorite episode or plotline involving Alexx?

Alexander: My favorite one was "Addiction", where I had the doctor who was my peer who ended up in the car accident because he was drinking and driving. That was my absolute favorite episode, for me as an actor as well as storyline for my character. It broke my heart when they killed [Glen Monroe, Joseph Kell] off! It was maybe his second or third time on the show and he and I became fast friends. That always breaks my heart when I'm not going to see an actor on this set again; hopefully we'll work together on something else.

CSI Files: Can you give us any teasers about what's coming up in the episodes you're working on right now?

Alexander: OkayÖthere's going to be a homicide and we're going to figure it out. That's my patent line! You can't [give away anything] because inevitably someone is going to figure it out and a post it up and ruin it for everybody!

CSI Files: Are you filming the final episode now?

Alexander: We're filming the final two in Miami [now].

CSI Files: How long does a location shoot like that usually last?

Alexander: About two and a half to three weeks.

CSI Files: Do you have any plans for hiatus?

Alexander: I have a couple of plans. I have two movies opening this summer that I hope do well. They're small films; one is called Rain and the other is called First Born. First Born is a thriller and Rain is more of one of those tug at your heartstring type films. So I'm looking forward to seeing how they do and dipping my foot into producing this summer, maybe a little short film and then going forward with a couple of other things. Just seeing what's out there. We don't get a long hiatus, so you have to do a little work and have a bit of relaxation at the same time.

CSI Files: Is there anything in particular you'd like to see for Alexx next season?

Alexander: No, I like being surprised. I have all the faith in the world in [showrunner] Ann Donahue--she keeps me surprised and I enjoy that very much. I love what I get to do.

CSI Files: I know you have to catch a plane for Miami, so I won't keep you much longer!

Alexander: I just want to say on a closing note for all of his friends out there, that I as well miss Rory Cochrane (Tim Speedle) very much and I still think of him as being a part of our cast even though he has moved on. I get fan mail from people [and they] always ask me about Rory, so I just wanted to let everybody know that Rory's great, working on some films, and we still miss him. He does have [a very strong fanbase] and I'm part of that fanbase!

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.