Who better than Eric Szmanda of the #1 television drama C.S.I. to investigate his beautiful co-star Jorja Fox? Eric says that when filming wraps for the summer he plans on “travelling to Europe and hitting the film festivals”. May we suggest a less violent approach, say a handshake, when arriving in Berlin?
Jorja Fox, actor interviewed by Eric Szmanda
Eric Szmanda: Has working on CSI changed your outlook on life?
Jorja Fox: Well, last night when I cooked dinner for myself in my toaster-oven, I sat down and watched NOVA. [laughter] I sat right down and picked that station. They were having this great show on black holes and stars in the galaxy, and I don’t know why, of all the channels, I thought maybe I’ll watch NOVA tonight.
ES: You feel this obligation to study up.
JF: I was always into true crime. It was always about the psychological aspects, the thin line that people walk, you know. What makes somebody go one way and somebody go another? And how two people can have the same sort of family situation and one becomes a violent mind and the other becomes a great writer. Forensic psychology is an area of the show that I wish we had more of because it fascinates me so much. I miss it and we started to do it for a minute and they pulled back on it and decided it was another show. I’m also interested in the Sci-Fi and horror genres. So it translated really well.
ES: Nice combination.
JF: I know, even though I had sort of pulled back. I was scared of everything because I was always engulfing myself in scary things. So I needed to cut myself off a little bit and now it’s good balances it out a bit better.
ES: How was it working on MEMENTO with Guy Pearce?
JF: Working on MEMENTO was a dream literally. I had no idea what was going on and was too embarrassed to say anything. I found out later nobody knew what was going on. Chris Nolan had three separate story ideas going on in the editing process. It was really fun and a complete surprise from shooting it to even right now. And Guy Pearce was one of my favorite movie husbands. He’s totally grounded and sweet. Very wise.
ES: What was that thing in your life that steered you in this direction?
JF: Steered me in the acting direction?
JF: I always wanted to be an actress. Maybe because I grew up in an immigrant family - I have a 99-year-old grandmother - and this idea if the old world and the storytelling. I loved for my mom and my grandmother to sit down at night and tell these stories and they were really good at it. So from a really young age I just loved the idea of storytelling. I had a little TV problem, too. From age 5 to 15.
ES: What were your favorite shows?
JF: Well, there several over the ages. CHARLIE’S ANGEL was a big one. LOST IN SPACE I loved, and THE BIONIC WOMAN.
ES: All those are just a little bit before my time. Those were all in syndication by the time I was-
JF: Well, yeah, LOST IN SPACE is old. They were in syndication when I watched them too. MASH, was one of my favorite shows ever. I think I’ve seen every MASH ever made.
ES: It’s the MASH anniversary right now.
JF: Is it really?
ES: Yeah, I saw Hot Lips on THE TODAY SHOW this morning.
JF: Nice. The show was going on during the Vietnam War, but they called it Korea because they couldn’t be that controversial.
ES: If you weren’t doing this what would it be?
JF: Music, which no one ever paid me a cent to do.
JF: Guitar probably. Or maybe I’d go into politics. Yeah, I have a romance about it. Which is probably all because I’ve never done anything in politics. It seems so romantic and cool to me. Everyday doing things that you think you believe in, but I’m sure it’s better in thought. What do you think you’d be doing?
ES: I’d probably still be working in the music business. It’s the only other thing I can see myself doing. I think it would have to be some kind of promotion or entertainment of some kind.
JF: It seems to me, I don’t know much about the music industry, but it seems that it’s always at the insanity level, except for maybe the Motown years. Everything got made right for awhile but it seems like the pendulum has gone to the other side again. A band can have number one singles and still not have any money at all.
ES: The average member in a rock band makes about the same salary as a 7-11 employee.
ES: Until your album starts selling millions you don’t seeing anything in terms of residuals. So a lot of them just blow their wad way too early and then they are left with nothing, which I have seen happen to a lot of my friends.
JF: You imagine it’s the beginning of your new life, you know. You get this great deal and the money comes in. You get better equipment and a nice van, and all that kind of stuff.
ES: It still comes out of your budget, which a lot of bands don’t realize either. Dirty business, I don’t know why we’re involved in such a dirty business. [laughter]
JF: Is there a business that’s not dirty though?
ES: I doubt it. I’ve realized that it’s all pretty relative. My dad sells medical supplies and there’s really no difference in the everyday interaction with clients versus what I was doing when I was trying to sell records. It’s all the same, it’s just products. Even what we’re doing, we are just selling a product.
JF: Absolutely, a very popular product. A product that a lot of people are interested in and they’ll spend money on. It’s going to be real interesting to see Time/Warner this year with the new CEO. If I ever had a company, I would try to keep as much integrity as I possibly could, and I think they’ve done that with so much genius. Or at least compared to a lot of other companies out there. They’ve done some pioneering, beautiful things.
ES: When you got into this acting thing, did you ever think some day you’d be seen as a product?
JF: Yeah, I think what’s so funny about it is that you’re lucky if you’re seen as a product. That’s a lucky thing. Probably from the time I was 16 there started to be an awareness of that, but this really is a business. There is art and there’s business and sometimes they get together. Art needs business and business definitely needs art.
ES: How do you deal with it?
JF: I haven’t been called on to be a product really. I think I’ve been really lucky, It’s weird because I was coming from New York City and I had some ideas about LA that weren’t very nice. I thought it was a place people came to sell out. That greed is at the base of everything that happens in LA. It was naive of me. Im glad I’ve stayed and stuck it out for a while because in LA I’ve met more people with more heart and soul than maybe I ever got to meet in New York. How long have you lived here?
ES: Seven years.
JF: Longer than me even.
ES: Yes, I spent a year of that in Chicago and six months in Vancouver.
JF: What year were you in Chicago?
JF: I think I was already in LA. I spent a year in Chicago in 1995.
ES: Doing what?
JF: I did a TV series in Chicago.
ES: What was it?
JF: It was called MISSING PERSONS. We looked for missing people. [laughter] Which is sometimes what we do here on CSI. We didn’t have the gadgets at all. Mostly we just talked to people, we did interviews and things like that. We did look for clues sometimes, but it wasn’t really the kind of clues we look for now.
ES: How did you like Chicago?
JF: I love Chicago in the summertime, but it was really hard for me to work there in the winter. You are in high heels and it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and it’s negative 60 degrees. That kind of grueling cold. The camera was frozen and they’d have to thaw out the camera. I think it’s an amazing city.
ES: Do you think you’ll stay here in LA.
JF: I don’t know if I’ll ever stay anywhere forever. If I want to keep acting there’s only really one place that I would want to go. I wasn’t ready to quit acting so I came here. And it’s been really good to me. It’s been really good to you too.
ES: I’d say. No reason to complain. [laughter]