One person’s death is another person’s breath. That’s something Jorja Fox knows everything about. The part of a forensic investigator on the television show C.S.I. has introduced her to a large audience. We talked to the American actress about her own life and her love/hate-relationship with death.
That she would ever be standing next to dead bodies that aren’t even cold yet, for a living, surprises Jorja more than anyone. The thirty-three year old actress slowly but surely made her way up to Hollywood. Thanks to relatively small, but outstanding roles in shows like ‘ER’ and ‘West Wing’, Jorja has managed to make a name for herself. When you get to know her a bit better, you will find that Jorja is just as unconventional as the characters she portrayed throughout the years. In ‘ER’, she played Maggie Doyle (“I was a lesbian, but still had a mouth as sharp as a machinegun.”), she was in the famous coming-out-episode of ‘Ellen’, in ‘West Wing’ she was seen as a clever cop and in the movie ‘Memento’ she portrayed Guy Pierce’s dead wife. (“Even the actors didn’t know what that movie was about when they started it.”)
Now, every week in C.S.I., she stoops over the strangled, the shot, the stabbed and the other gruesomely murdered. Not bad for a girl that, for a long time, lived a gypsy’s life with her parents, an Irishman and a Belgian woman who moved to the States just before Jorja was born. “My parents were incredibly restless,” she says about that period in her life. “My mother needed to move every other year. If possible to another country, but if there was no other possibility, we would just move into the house on the other side of the street.” The only constant factor in the Fox family was mom’s cooking; she put five meals together every day. As a result, Jorja weighed about 140 pounds at the age of twelve. “I was huge,” Jorja exclaims. “I was horribly bullied in school. And if that wasn’t bad enough already, my mother bought me this whole stack of oversized t-shirts that said ‘Foxy Woman’. I felt miserable.” She finally lost the extra weight as the result of a long term crush. “That was the first time I realised you can eat three meals a day, instead of five. That was a revelation!”
With her new slender figure, she felt confident enough to enter the Miss Melbourne Beach beauty peageant in Florida, where she lived at the time. And what nobody expected, happened: Jorja won. “Picture me standing there; stick thin, pale and with dark hair, when all the other girls were voluptuous, tanned blondes.” Her triumph gave her enough confidence to register with a professional modeling agency. It turned out to be the beginning of a wonderful period.
“It’s great to be a model. It’s good pay, you get to travel all over the world and you meet lots of different people,” Jorja says. But her ambitions went beyond the lens of the photocamera. She took actinglessons, started her own theater production company Honeypot and went to as many auditions as she could. But the biggest step turned out to be moving from New York to Los Angeles. “I thought LA would be terrible,” Jorja says, laughing. “To me, it was a city for people who are willing to sell their soul to the devil, just to become a star. But by now, I’ve figured out that that’s nonsense. I met a lot of warm and sensitive people here.”
It wasn’t much later though that Jorja had to deal with some rough times. Just when her career started to take off, her mother died of cancer. “I was really depressed, but at the same time I was doing better than ever, professionally. At a time like that, all you can do is make the best you can of your life. It’s useless to keep looking back at the past.”
For the role of Sara Sidle in C.S.I., which is set in Las Vegas, Jorja regularly resides in a dried out desert in California, where a set is build. Staying over there has brought the cast closer together. “There’s absolutely nothing to do there,” Jorja explains. “So we really don’t have any other choice than to go grab a beer in the evenings. We talk about ourselves, but also about the job. At first, I wasn’t even sure whether they were going to let me stay, since they only asked me for three episodes. I made about two hundred dollars for one episode!” In spite of the often gaunt storylines of the show, the colleagues have a lot of fun in between (or during) scenes. “I think it’s fascinating, all those dead bodies with outrageous injuries. There’s something grotesque about death.” And even though her co-actor William Petersen states that Jorja doesn’t even have the stomach to look at those injuries, as far as Jorja’s concerned, the show could use even more death and decay. “I’ve pushed my limits on many ocassions. There have been a couple of episodes that really walked the line in picturing brutal violence. But I don’t have any boundaries. The more ‘gore’, the better. And a little more sex in the show wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either! I think it would be kinda exciting actually, out there in the morgue.”
Name: Jorja-An Fox, Jorjan for short. She changed it to Jorja later.
Date of Birth: July 7th, 1968, in New York.
Curriculum Vitae: Jorja starred in ‘ER’, ‘West Wing’, and had a small part in Memento.
Fun facts: Jorja has been a vegetarian for years and wants to become a vegan one day. She owns a boxer named Ali, and two cats, Sid and Rumplestiltskin.
Civil Status: Is dating an actor who’s name she won’t mention.