Issue Date: June 17, 2001
Online extra: Q&A with actress Jorja Fox of “CSI”
Jorja Fox, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” forensics investigator Sara Sidle, has a knack for landing in the hot show of the moment. Her face is familiar to viewers of both “ER” and “The West Wing”, on which she had recurring parts as a doctor and secret service agent respectively. Patty Rhule caught up with her on the final week of filming “CSI”, the CBS hit with a remarkable debut season.
Q: Did the bloody scenes on “ER” prepare you for what was ahead on “CSI”?
I’m the wimp of the cast and I am a little squeamish. Just when I think it’s going away, it’s not. When I met (star and producer) Billy Petersen and the creator (Anthony Zuiker) for lunch, I sit down and order this delicious lunch and they immediately start talking about heads in popcorn containers. I was turning green. But I thought, if I act too wimpy, they might have second thoughts about me. We just did an episode (where) we find a skinned torso in the desert. Just when I thought I was over it the special effects guy kept pouring fresh blood over it so it was nice and shiny.
Q: How do you handle that? Eat a dry cracker?
I just breathe through it. I wait and eat after the scene is over.
Q: You have been in “ER”, “The West Wing”, and now “CSI” and the cool movie, “Memento”. What’s your secret?
Obviously, I feel unspeakably lucky. I just sort of fell into these things. With West Wing and “ER” I knew they were runaway hits. “ER” I came to in episode 3 — it was sort of terrifying. But nothing really compares with the excitement of “CSI”. We shoot in the country outside L.A. You have faith in something and hope it’s going to do well. To watch this year unfold, I don’t really have words for it. I’ve been crying for the past couple of days, because it’s amazing. It’s going to be an excellent year. I only worked on “Memento” for a couple of days (as the dead wife). I get to be that sort of objective person, ‘cause I’m not in it very much.
**Q: Are you getting more movie work over hiatus? **
Not really movie roles. Schedule-wise, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of time. I kind of made a decision to rest and relax. A close friend is doing a short film: it’s four or five days (work).
Q: You’ve hinted that there is more to be revealed about your “CSI” character.
I think it’s going to be like snapshots, they will very slowly reveal things about all of us and the hope is people will always want to know more about us. Nothing too specific, but she’s got a skeleton or two in her closet. We’re having a meeting with writers … to hash out all kinds of ideas for next year. That’s something that’s really special about the show. It really is very collaborative.
Q: So you’ll do your friend’s film over break?
A short film. I have a little theater company with some friends and this is our first foray into film; we’re shooting on 35 mm. I’ve written some plays and produced one or two.
**Q: How much time do you have off? **
About two months. There’ll be a couple of big publicity things in early July. In the next couple of weeks, I’m not that good for anybody. It’s the happiest tired in the world, but it’s almost a little useless.
**Q: Do you have travel plans? **
I have huge big travel dreams, haven’t decided on a place yet. I’m going to New York, where I’m from, going to do a little bit of charity work for the ASPCA. They’re a really good organization. I know it’s involving water. It could be the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, it could be anywhere. I look at the pictures every day.
Q: You’re a fan of the ASPCA. Do you have pets?
I have a dog and two cats. My dog comes to the set with me sometimes. If I’m in one scene in a day, she has a great time. George Eads brings his dog every day. That’s one thing that’s nice about shooting out of town. When we’re in L.A., we’re in the Valencia area, 45 minutes north. (Other times) we go to Vegas. I love Vegas. It’s very special to be there, it’s such a specific city, a beautiful, moody, dark place, it’s so good for us when we’re there. It’s very helpful. The only bad thing about Vegas is that it doesn’t close. And I’m a terrible gambler. And it’s very difficult not to gamble when you’re there.
Q: Where did you get the unusual name?
My parents are from Montréal. (It’s common in French) the j was a twist on it. I’m a child of the ’70s. It’s my given name … until I was about 10 everybody tried to tell me how to spell it.
Q: Are you a computer user?
No one has a DSL line at work. We get in there (to the office computer) and just about when you’re really comfortable, they come in to do some work-related thing. I’m a pretty big computer person, but it’s suffered alot already.
**Q: Have you seen the fan websites? **
I don’t see them that often. I was really flattered and amazed.
Q: Are you a married person, a single person?
Involved, but not married. I’m not allowed to talk about it at all. I’ve been sworn to secrecy — the whole theory that it’s more special. I’m very happy and living under a shroud until further notice.