— September 24, 2013

Monica Gleberman .. and just ask you, how did you get involved in acting to begin with?

Jorja Fox Oh my goodness. I wanted to act since I was probably four or five years old. I think that the television that sat in the living room of my house was one of the bigger influences in my life. It was definitely a babysitter for me. You know, I grew up in a small town, so there weren’t many acting programs. And it was high school before I was able to be in a drama class. I think there were two things that happened. First of all I love it so much, and then second of all, people were really supportive of me, and doing acting. I think I had a lot of support doing it, and so there was no doubt in my mind. I went to New York and got lucky. I got in [something] very quickly because I ignored all these signs that said “Do Not Enter.” [laughter] I didn’t have an agency, you know ‘Don’t go beyond this point.’ And I sort of ignored all of those signs that told me not to go further and landed up in an agency, and I was able to have a conversation with my agency and I had an audition, and they started sending me out. It was so processed. But definitely I started my career in New York and was there for probably seven years before ending up in Los Angeles.

Monica I have followed your career, and of course I did research before this. You have had some major television show lucky jobs. Some of the biggest shows known to man. So I want to ask you, of course you were on ER, you were on The West Wing. What was it like- I know when you’re on it, you might not think ‘This is huge’ and might not realize how big it is. But looking back, reflecting back on your appearances, what does that feel like? To look back and note that you were on these two shows that are probably going down in history as some of the best television?

Jorja Oh wow. Thank you. I think it was huge at the time for me. ER in particular because I started on ER in season three and they were the number one show in the country and those numbers were bigger then what you see now because there was less television to choose from. And less appointment television. I don’t know if you remember, but people had to actually turn on the TV at the right time. VCR’s existed but even then, people wanted to a lot of the bigger shows live so they could talk about them the next day. So I was terrified. Even though I hadn’t watched ER, it was my mom’s favorite show and a lot of my friends favorite shows and I was absolutely terrified when I got the job because I felt like in a week or two’s time, everyone in America was going to know I was an impostor. That I was just claiming to be an actor and I was terrible. So I came really close to just driving to Mexico the week before I started and forgetting the whole thing. But I’m glad I didn’t. I always felt it was a pretty incredible learning experience, to get to spend time with that caliber of people every day, writers and actors and BPs(?) and directors.

And absolutely the same goes for West Wing. I think West Wing… I was a huge fan then, of Sorkin, and ER and West Wing had a number of the same producers. I think the thing that surprised me the most for myself was I could get to be a part of telling a wonderful story like that. It was something that I hadn’t even dreamed of. I just felt like it was such an honor to get to try and tell that story. I really like looked after Martin Sheen’s daughter. I couldn’t believe it! I got to do something like that! I think that Sorkin, he said at the time on West Wing, he’s alone, and there had been very few women Secret Service Agents at that time, that had actually been on screen. Even getting to be that, getting to be this female Secret Service Agent was kind of a lot of fun that people hadn’t gotten to do.

Monica And I know, obviously, you’ve done a ton of movies and other TV shows, and then you land CSI. Which, again, another- it’s like crazy, your career, because it’s another huge show! So I want to go back to Season one, and what that was like, finding out you’re going to be playing Sara, and where your mind was when you got that call.

Jorja Um. That was also a big surprise. I really didn’t think that CSI was going to be successful. I fell in love with the story and the idea of it. Again, at the time it was something that was pretty different and something that I hadn’t really read about often. You know, Quincy was sort of the thing that I could think of that sort of reminded me a little of CSI. And I thought nobody was really going to watch a show about death on a Friday night, that is just kind of not a really American culture thing to do. I was so wrong about that. I really thought I would do CSI, have some fun and be back on The West Wing by Christmas. You know, that’s what I thought was going to happen! I thought the show was going to get canceled and here I am thirteen years later. And it was just this monster. Not — I guess monster’s kind of — this behemoth that none of us expected. I think that nobody could have imagined how big the ride was going to get.

And thank you for saying that! I’m actually starting my eighteenth consecutive season in a row on Prime Time television. It’s big for me.

Monica I know! It’s crazy!

Jorja So thanks for talking about that stuff.

Monica I want to ask- so were you surprised — before we get into Sara and where she’s gone over the course of- and now we’re in- there’s gonna be a fourteenth season. I want to ask you, I know that in 2007 you had announced that you were leaving the show. Were you surprised at how many fans freaked out and started sending in gifts and money and started a campaign to try to keep you on CSI? Was that shocking to you at how many people cared about this character?

Jorja Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely. It was one of the most magnificent experiences. I had no idea there would be that kind of a response. Truthfully, that was my season twelve in a row, and I was tired. I was just thinking ‘Oh my god, I just need to lie down for a minute.’ I just needed to kind of sit down and reground. So I wanted to get off-screen before it started to show on screen, or before my coworkers started to notice. It was an amazing show of support, and I wished I could have changed my mind to show the fans the amount of gratitude I had for them suggesting that I stay. Honestly, if I wasn’t so exhausted, I absolutely would have. So yeah, it was an amazing feeling of surprise.

Monica So now that you’re back, and you’ve been back for a while, everyone’s been super excited. I want to know from you how has Sara changed from season one, I know she’s had a lot of life changes with the proposal and getting married, but how has she changed from season one to season thirteen?

Jorja It’s funny. I think in some ways she really hasn’t changed that much [laughs]. There’s been some seemingly big changes. When we met Sara in 2000, if anything I think she was very much a product of her past and of her history and the things she experienced as a young kid. You know, her mother killed her father and she was in foster care for a period of time. I think that she had this drive to be a CSI that definitely stems from her experiences as a kid. I think when she left in season 7, and was gone most of season 8, she had a chance to really wrestle those demons and maybe not feel like she is controlled by her past anymore. She kind of cleared all of the ghosts out for herself.

And yet, here we are in season thirteen and I feel like we have a very mature character, who is just as passionate about the cases and just as invested, but is somehow free of her history and that is kind of the way I’ve been playing the character for the last couple of season. And yet at the same time, now we are in season fourteen, I do feel that Sara- there is this compulsive drive, something very deep rooted. She can’t stop being a CSI, it’s what fuels her, maybe the duration of her life, she’s going to be there in the trenches, on the street, in the muck, in the darkness, trying to get justice for people. I’m looking at it again, myself, and like “huh!” I thought the compulsive side of her was finished, and now maybe it’s not, not at all. Maybe she’s just the same.

Monica What can fans look forward to this season? What kind of cases? What are you guys going to get involved with, cause there’s always a craziness happening every episode. So what can fans expect this season for the upcoming episodes?

Jorja I think so far — we are in the middle of episode 7 and I’ve seen the script for eight, and I think we have an amazing season opening up. Really exciting. We have some incredible guest stars including somebody like… oh you know what I don’t know if I could say cause I don’t know if I’m a spoiler alert. [laughs] We have some really interesting guest stars and a cooking show in episode four that is kind of based on these food contests on the food networks. There is funny stuff, there is haunting stuff - I think the writers this year again, they suggested to me, they like to pick a theme every season, and this one is definitely going to be about darkness and going darker and going deeper.

It’s going to be a darker season of CSI, but within that also there’s going to be as much character stuff as there was last year. I think they’re continuing to write a lot of character stuff, which is great. Certainly we start the season with Morgan in jeopardy, the stakes are really high. We also start the season with a funeral and it’s not really until we get to the end of the show that you, the audience, will come to find out why we’re at the funeral and who has passed. It’s a very compelling kind of suspenseful episode.

You know, yeah it gets crazier every year. I don’t know how the writers come up with stuff in season fourteen. The unfortunate thing is there’s no shortage of crazy crime in America to draw from. But the stakes continue to get higher, and I hope the fans will continue to enjoy that. I always am partial to the action/adventure show. And so in those episodes where we get a little kooky, hopefully the fans will still be able to roll with us.

Monica I wanted to ask you, was it nice that all current cast members continued on for season fourteen?

Jorja Absolutely! Because we have had so many changes. You know, part of me, you were speaking about ER, ER began to lose their core cast members in season three. So the fact that our show made it to season seven with the core cast intact, I think is a testament to the show and a compliment to how much we actually did get along and liked working together and did like the work itself. I think very few shows have gone seven seasons retaining their full original cast.

But yes, it’s been really nice to have a cast that’s been able to stay together for a couple of seasons. You can’t fake chemistry. You’ve sort of got to build it organically. The more you know each other, the more you work together, the deeper you can go. It’s given a chance for that. I think it’s been kind of a really great thing for the writers, because there were a lot of seasons where it was really hard for them to start breaking stories over the summer, because they weren’t completely sure who their cast was going to be. Knowing early enough that they were going to have everyone has allowed them to spread their wings more than they could for a bunch of season.

This team, this troupe of actors, you never think that ‘Wow, three new actors in practically one season. This is definitely- this can’t go well. This is going to be difficult.’ And to love these three actors as much as I do, as much as we all do, we’re having so much fun every day. I hope it shows on screen. As usual, I’m just grateful I get to come here and hang out, because it’s a really fun place to be.

Monica Of course I have to ask too, season fourteen, will mark the 300th episode, which is like, nuts. So what is that? What have you guys, I think it’s like mid-season, right? The 300th?

Jorja The 300th? Episode five. We’re pretty soon, like pretty pretty soon. We’re going to do ten new shows in a row. I don’t think we’ve done that before. And so, yeah, I think five weeks after the premiere tomorrow, you’ll be able to see the 300th episode.

Monica So what is that like? Being a part of … I feel like a lot of this interview is about you being a part of these crazy, amazing, genius shows. And not only do you have this awesome career, but you’re a part of another benchmark, which is the 300th episode. So what is that like, being a part of?

Jorja It was such an honor for me. You know, it is a milestone. I didn’t think much about it going in, but then we all showed up for work the first day, and a couple people gave speeches, and I started to feel the gravity of it all. I think it’s been a great second chance for me. I missed the 200th episode, I wasn’t here. I was here for the 100th episode. And to get to be a part of the 300th episode meant a lot to me. More than I even imagined it would. I haven’t done 300 episodes yet, I’m behind several members of the cast because I did take that season off, and I don’t appear in every episode every year. I think with my combined with my ER and West Wing I might be on episode 296 or something. I can share that.

It’s funny, because ER went 300 episodes, and Marg Helgenberger, George Eads and myself had all had parts on ER, so with another show that the three of us can be happy for and be a part of this tiny piece of ER history. Of course, the history that we have on CSI is a lot deeper and bigger. It’s really cool. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen to me again, to be a part of something like this. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible for a lot of shows to get to do this. Most shows are doing 13 episodes a year instead of 24, which is what we started out with. It takes a long time doing 13 episodes a season to get to 300 episodes. I think this is kind of a marker we may not see that much of in the future. It meant a lot and I’m really proud of- for everyone. I’m really proud of everyone and just very excited to get to be a part of it. It’s cool.

Monica I want to ask, and I know it could be a little spoiler, but in the 300th episode, I’ve heard rumors there might be some flash backs? Is that…

Jorja Ah yes. Flashbacks slash faux-backs. [laughs] That’s what we’re calling them. We did out best. It has been thirteen years. [laughs] Thirteen meaningful years. But it was truly fun and embarrassing and silly to try and do it- I hope we pulled it off. I hope the fans enjoy it. There’s- You know it’s not a huge chunk of the show, but three flashbacks. Four I think! We go back to 2000. There’s some funny clothes, and funny hairstyles. I threw in a wig. And it’s great. We do, we’re- the episode is really about a cold case from 2000, that has certainly haunted Sara for the last thirteen years. And I think it, within the show, Sara feels a certain exuberance at having a second chance at a case she thought had really slipped through her fingers.

So not only did I get a second chance to be a part of something so exciting, but she’s getting a second chance to really try and find justice for somebody who’s living a nightmare several times.

Monica Is there anything else you want to tell to the fans who are super excited — they’re counting down the hours to the premiere. Is there anything you want to say to them? Anything about the season or just in general that you want them to know?

Jorja I think yes. I wanna say to all the fans of CSI, thank you so much! Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your support all these years. We are continually surprised and completely elated that we get ratings every years, that we continue to get to be on this show and do these things, that’s all because of you. Thank you for your loyalty and your willingness to go on some really crazy rides with us. I hope this year we don’t disappoint you and we’re really excited to show you what we have coming up.

Monica Okay! Great! Those were all my questions.

Jorja Thank you so much, Monica, it was great speaking with you.




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