HOW TV’S FAVORITE CHAMELEON PUTS FAMILY FIRST
by Julia Dahl
You may not know how to pronounce her name (it’s, Mar-guh), but chances are you recognize Marg Helgenberger’s face. Maybe you remember her as the cancer-stricken mother in Erin Brockovich or as Patsy Ramsey in CBS’s tawdry miniseries about JonBenet. and with a starring role in CBS’s CSI, last season’s hit drama about crime-solving Las Vegas scientists, Helgenberger (who garnered an emmy, nomination for her role as Catherine Willows is finally making the leap to household-name status.
But don’t expect the 42-year-old Nebraska native’s life to change. After all, this is a woman who picked graduating from college over a starring role on the ABC soap Ryan’s Hope, has been married to actor Alan Rosenberg for 12 years (a.k.a. a Hollywood lifetime), and has an 11 year-old son whom she calls “cool.” Wonder where he got that trait?
REDBOOK: CSI is your first regular series since China Beach in 1991. Has balancing home and work gotten harder or easier?
MARG HELGENBERGER: It’s actually easier to have a regular gig than tip be flying all over to different movie sets. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to get back into TV. I wanted to be able to drive home every night, not have to hop on a plane to see my family. Of course, it’s still not easy. Fortunately, my son, Hughie, is pretty cool and seems to understand when I’m Busy during the day. It’s the nights I get home late that I feel guilty.
RB: How do you keep romance alive when you and Alan travel so much?
MH: Once you have a family, you have to make sure you and your husband go out alone together once in a while. I was being pretty diligent about that prior to CSI, but since then I’ve wanted to include Hughie because I’m away from him so much now. But I think it’s time for Alan and me to have a date. [Laughs] Now I just have to figure out a time!
RB: You play a single mom on CSI. Does that make you appreciate your husband more?
MH: Yes. Last Year Alan was away filming in Toronto for five weeks, and I got a taste of how difficult it is to try to juggle a child and a career all by yourself.
RB: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve learned from being on CSI?
MH: I went to Las, Vegas and rode around with a woman who investigates crime scenes in real life for a few nights. She told me she works the night shift because since it gets so hot in Vegas, when you go to a crime scene and a body has been there for God knows how long …well, you get the idea. Apparently the heat makes it, like, 5,000 times worse.
RB: You’ve played strong, controversial women-a prostitute, a mother accused of killing her daughter, a woman dying of cancer, and now a single mom/ex-stripper who works with dead bodies. What’s up with that?
MH: I feel an affinity for people who have been through hardships but are able to keep going. My mother is a breast cancer survivor yet has always looked on the bright side of life. I find that kind of person fascinating to play.
RB: Do you ever miss being single?
MH: [laughing] Hell, yeah! I wouldn’t have to pick up after my husband or listen to him yell, “Where are my keys?” Every married woman on this planet would say that from time to time. It would be wonderful to only worry about myself. But truthfully, I couldn’t be happier.