CSI returns to UK TV tonight, with the American goliath that’s spawned not only the rise of the pathology TV show, but also thousands of careers in forensics back to defend its crown on Channel 5.
As she begins to start her latest tour of duty as the devoted Sara Silde on the show, we chatted to star Jorja Fox about being on the show for more than a decade, the world of forensics and her dreams of being a rock and roll star.
The show’s going into its thirteenth season over here in the UK, did you ever think it would be so successful?
You know it’s really been a surprise and an incredible honour that we’re still going. I’d just like to give a shout out to our international fans for tuning in and watching. I think that we’re very mystified every year when we’re invited to do another (laughs). That’s a great feeling.
What’s it like playing Sara for so long?
I never imagined I would play the same character for anywhere near this amount of time. I think that as a younger person, I thought ‘It’ll be great to play her for a year of two if I’m fortunate’ and thank goodness I really adore Sara, so it makes it so easy to play her. I feel like I’m in a place where I put on the vest, put on the boots, grab the pun and instantly I feel like her.
It’s a really interesting experience, because as an actor you never stop building the character and asking how they’d react to things, but with her I feel that very quickly I know who she’d respond to almost anything.
The writers keep Sara interesting for us at home, but what about for you. How do you keep her fresh and interesting to play after all this time?
Well, I hope she’s interesting to the people at home; she’s always interesting for me. Number one because she’s really smart and I’m not (laughs). It’s always fascinating that she can figure out these puzzles. The show also changes week to week, every time the characters are interacting in completely different situations, which keeps the characters fresh.
When I think that we’ve told every crime out there we can tell, the writers come up with something new, weirder, crazier and darker than before. It keeps us on our toes all the time. This year, we’re doing something we’ve not done before as each week we deal with something very personal to each of the characters on the show.
So for Sara, she’s going down some roads she’s never been down before. It’s personal and profoundly intimate and in some ways secretive, so that’s a really interesting new thing.
As you said, this series is definitely more personal, but have any of the storylines affected you personally?
Yeah, for sure. Episode seven goes back to Warwick’s life and see what’s become of his family since he passed away and that one was a really hard episode to shoot for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I still miss Gary Dourdan every week; I miss both him and the character on the show.
Also, as actors, I think we’ve all lost someone very close to us, nobody gets on and off the planet without leaving people they really care about. So it was a little bit heart breaking and it really resonated with me personally.
Hopefully, some of the storylines are almost fun. We have this dynamic between Hodges and Morgan, which is all about whether you can love somebody at work and are you compatible away from that, so there’s some comedy to that, but once again, it’s very personal.
Also, because Ted Danson’s on the show, hopefully not only because of him, the show’s funnier and I think the writers have taken more risks with comedy than they have done in the past. That’s been so much fun to shoot around, even though I don’t get much of it. I’m the girl, who gets the really dark stuff, but other characters are having really funny lines and it’s hard not to laugh.
Elizabeth Shue joined the cast last year, what’s it been like showing her the rope and working with her?
Well, she’s so humble, but she’s a theatrical legend in the United States. She’s so much fun, kind of trouble, got the sort of fun loving personality that gets a girl into trouble and for her to come in and be so humble was so great and really unexpected. She picked up everything very quickly. You’ve got these new characters and I love all three of them and I can’t believe how lucky I am to work with them every week.
So for the first three of four episodes we had to show them the ropes and how everything gets done around here and now all three do everything better than me and drive me crazy! (laughs) They’ve learnt their lines faster, they get their science talk done more smoothly, I’m like “Ok, guys, take it easy, you’re making us all feel dumb”. Its gives me something to aspire too (laughs).
Is it true that you have a rather special guitar?
Oh, I do, I wish I could play it the way I feel like it should! I like to actually loan it to people to play because it’s just an amazing guitar and I never really do it any justice. I have this blonde 1965 hollow body Rickenbacher and they didn’t make many of them and it’s really just like listening to angels.
Is music something you’d like to explore more then?
I don’t have the time yet. Oddly enough when I was younger my number one dream was to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band. Acting ended up being the place where I was able to carve out a living for myself, so there was a point where I let go of music professionally.
It was hard for a minute, letting go of any dream is going to be like that, but it’s something that I do now just for the fun of it. I love the fact that it’s not professional, that it’s just me and some friends who get together and play. It’s nice to have something that’s not about making a living or trying to impress anyone else.
**The show’s become quite famous for actually inspiring some people to actively pursue a career in **
I think it’s really one of the highest compliments you can get. Being on the show for thirteen years, there a lot of kids who watched the show who are now total adults and to imagine that expanse of time is really interesting. I think that there are a lot of smart people out there that watch the show and engage with it and I think it’s fantastic to think we’ve been a part in a resurgence of science. I think only great things can come from that.
I think it’s going to be very hard for criminals to get away with things with so many forensic guys around. Then perhaps we can make the world peaceful enough that we have to stop the show as there’s no more crime.
So CSI’s just actually a massive Public Service Announcement then?
(laughs) Exactly! It’s really hard to get away with crimes now, thank God! There have been so many technological advancements over the last twenty years and thinks like DNA evidence helps keep people who are innocent from spending a decade in jail. Those sorts of breakthroughs are incredible. Of course criminals are also coming up with new ways to commit crimes, and crime fighters have to come up with new ways to beat them. I find it a fascinating dance.