'Mentalist' producers discuss Hightower, and the importance of Kristina Frye

'Mentalist' producers discuss Hightower, and the importance of Kristina Frye
by: Tyrone Warner
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When Virgil Minelli retired after Bosco’s murder, a new CBI chief was introduced on “The Mentalist.”

That character is Madeline Hightower, played by Aunjanue Ellis. Hightower wants to see the CBI division become the top investigation bureau in the country, and warns Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) that when it comes to his hijinks, Lisbon’s job is on the line.

Producer  and creator of “The Mentalist” Bruno Heller explains to CTV.ca that the “tricky thing” in getting a new “boss” character to work in a series like this is that it “requires someone with great force of character who is also flexible.”

“You have to create kind of a persona that will allow that contradiction there. Aunjanue Ellis brings great sharpness and intelligence and wit and also a kind of Machiavellian intelligence to the actual job of running this department and running a difficult employee like Jane,” says Heller.

As for Kristina Frye, Heller sees her character as someone who, besides Red John, could be a true intellectual foe for Jane.

“I guess the thing about her and Patrick Jane is he thinks she's a charlatan, as he was, and she insists that she's the real thing -- a real psychic -- and despite the fact that they argue about that endlessly, they have a kind of common understanding,” says Heller.

“They both have essentially the same skills.  They think they come from a different source, but they're very much two kind of mental athletes, if you like, who strike a spark with each other.  So that's the kind of core engine in that relationship.  And we're just playing with it now. Hopefully we will have a lot of fun with it.”

“Mentalist” producer Chris Long dismisses the idea that Frye and Jane could end up in a relationship, but doesn’t discount the idea completely.

“In regard to their relationship stuff, with Patrick Jane having a relationship, it's interesting because playing him as a sympathetic character in the first place, the man wears a wedding ring the entire time.”

“The Mentalist” also stars Robin Tunney, Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti.

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