‘I’D WALK through fire for the ‘guys’ I worked with on ‘CSI.’ I could never be sick of them!" says Jorja Fox, who has left the popular TV series.
What happens when - after several seasons of making the TV-viewing public come to love and adore you, to feel they know you and, indeed, that they own you - you disappear of your own free will from their screens and their lives?
So I had a chance to offer this question to the actress on the very day tabloid TV was shouting things like “Jorja disappears from ‘CSI’ at last for good,” or words to that effect. It was as if she had been banished from the magic kingdom.
The forensic investigator Sara Sidle in the original and best of all the “CSI” versions always showed her unique air of independence. She sometimes protested events, drank too much, slaved over evidence, and let her heart break for the victims. Now the real-life Jorja had decided to leave this big hit just as her character’s rather odd TV romance with her boss, Grissom, played by the fine actor William Petersen, seemed to be really “happening.”
So how could Jorja do this to us? I was surprised when she entered the El Rio Grande restaurant for our chat. The star is slight, but very tall. In person, the actress is soft-spoken and not much like her “CSI” self. On the show, her character was always jousting with her fellows, arguing ethical questions but, obviously, listening attentively to Grissom, being taught, mentored, hectored and, yes - loved - by the sometimes enigmatic boss of the series. But in person, the actress seems shy, innocent and very young. I asked about her departure from the show after a long run.
“Well, I’m not leaving under a cloud. It is much harder for me to leave than to stay. Actually, I’ve been thinking about leaving for a year and a half. I had to get up the courage. Maybe I’m just having a midlife crisis. Maybe this will be the worst decision I ever make.
“You know, at first I thought I’d just do eight episodes. We were the little show in a crummy time slot chugging along. We started out on-air Friday nights - the kiss of death, I thought. So who knew? It became a fan phenomenon. The series worked for us because we were doing stories about new technologies happening right that moment. It made us feel smart. We wouldn’t have been able to bring it off if we hadn’t done it as a collective with the creator Anthony Zuiker and William Petersen. He [Petersen] likes to interact with the writers and know everything that’s going on.”
‘WILL I go back? Well, I hope to do fu ture episodes, depending on the storyline. Contrary to rumor, I never could be sick of those people. But I wanted to come back to New York, where I’d worked in the beginning; I hadn’t been here in two years.
“Theater is one of my loves, so I’m open for that after 11½ years of working in prime-time TV, for ‘ER,’ ‘The West Wing’ and ‘CSI.’ I’ve never been to college, and I think about that. But I kept putting it off, and I am also thinking about having a child, and that’s really important. Also, I want to do a lot of traveling and surfing - two of my hobbies. Maybe the universe will get tired of me. I have a one-woman little play about Dusty Springfield opening Feb. 2 at the Renberg Theater in Hollywood. . . . My private life? Well, I have a boxer named Ali, and I couldn’t get on without him - you can’t live in Los Angeles without a dog.”
I “don’t” think the universe will get tired of Jorja Fox, and we dyed-in-the-wool “CSI” fans (Las Vegas version) are really going to miss her.