14 QUESTIONS WITH GEORGE EADS
March 3, 2009
By Sandra Deane
George Eads is the last leading man standing on ‘CSI,’ where he’s starred as Nick Stokes since the 2000 premiere. Now that William Petersen, Gary Dourdan and Jorja Fox have exited the show, Eads is primed to step into the spotlight — on and off screen.
Just five years ago the sexy Texan was canned for allegedly playing hardball during contract disputes. Add to that rumors that certain cast mates were disappointed by the show’s lack of character development and the quality of its two spinoffs, and you can see why morale may not have always been high on set. Now that a third of the original cast is gone, Eads claims there’s room for growth — and improved attitude.
He sat down for a very candid chat with AOL TV about sharing the spotlight with teen mega-star Taylor Swift in an upcoming episode, the joys of working with Laurence Fishburne, the wonders of shirtless videos … and going for the “full frontal” with Marg Helgenberger. — By Sandy Deane
1. What can you tell us about the March 5 episode featuring Taylor Swift?
There’s a lot of flashbacks and movements through time. Seldom in television do you have the time or the opportunity to have this much of an arc in 45 minutes. And it’s really interesting the way that we’ll see her change from a physical standpoint and from and emotional standpoint too. And having her being a beginner, at least as far as her television stuff goes, I think people will be pleased with what she does. She’s very talented, you know. You can’t teach what Taylor Swift has. Her subtlety and the way she portrayed this, I think was really cool.
2. In Taylor’s episode, will we also see some kind of profound impact on your character?
It may be hard for me to describe what happens to me, but it’s a loss of innocence, really, for Nick as well as for Taylor’s character. And I think once that innocence is lost, I don’t think you can get it back. For Nick this is just another thing I didn’t want to see go with him. It’s one of the things that made him so charming; he just seems to have this innocent attitude. It’s slowly going away, not unlike what happened with Sara (Jorja Fox), you know, her brakes got rubbed to the metal and she had to leave.
3. You’re not paving the way for Nick Stokes to make an exit from ‘CSI,’ are you?
No, I don’t think so. I think it’s more interesting to see how some people don’t quit, and maybe that adverse circumstances and tragedy in [a person’s life] help mold them to be an even more beautiful person. It definitely makes him more of an interesting character. I think Nick’s found a stillness. And I kind of like playing it … so much more exciting and interesting than my own life. [Laughs] And they’re getting excited about writing for me, and that feels good.
4. What happened when you were briefly fired a few years ago for allegedly staging a sick-out?
All I did was oversleep. It just happened to be around the time where [the] actors had a meeting and talked about “Hey, should we ask for more money.” Me oversleeping and Jorja getting fired … got made out that we were trying to get more money and that we were lying. I’m flattered that people think that I’m that intelligent and calculating. I’m embarrassed to say that I overslept, but that’s the truth. I think that’s the best thing that happened to me, because I was taking the job for granted. I had shown up late several times before that. I would go to bed at 2 when I had a 7AM call time … and go in there half asleep and kinda just do it. It made a big difference in my life to have that kind of scare. You know, thank God … that [Les Moonves] hired me back.
5. Do you miss William Petersen?
Uh, yeah. Billy’s a sweet guy, he’s a team player, he loves the show. Without a doubt. But towards the end man, he would get to work, he really didn’t want to be there. You know. He was — there were kind of grumblings. And I’m sure he was thinking of a lot after the show. But he had been planning on not being there for years. And I’m not trying to be malicious and saying that he was mean in anyway. But I want to be with actors [who] really want to be there. With all due respect to Billy. Whether it be Lauren, Laurence, guest stars, somebody [who] comes on and plays a dead body. I mean, I really want to work with actors [who] really want to be there.
6. Was it the same way with Jorja Fox and Gary Dourdan?
It was the same with Jorja. It creates tension. And same with Gary, it just creates tension that you don’t really need at work. When it feels like there’s grumblings with the producer and an actor about them leaving. Or somebody’s late, or you know, somebody hates the script and just voices it out loud and hurts people’s feelings. I mean, when there’s undue tension on the set, because either an actor isn’t getting what they want financially or isn’t getting what they want creatively, the tension just ripples like a pond. And everybody feels it, and it’s just not a fun place to be. And in the end, like I said, I just think now work’s a fun place to be and everybody [who’s] there wants to be there.
7. Gary’s departure seemed sudden. Was that something that you guys were prepared for?
I could see it coming. But then again, it goes back to somebody who just really wants to be there … you know, be there on time, you’re polished, you’re well-rested. And you know, you’re there to work. I’m just saying that I appreciate actors [who] come here ready to go. Again, if you go “Oh, it’s just TV,” then it just sucks man. And why does TV have to suck? I mean if you see shows that ain’t that good I guarantee you that if you look at what’s going on, I bet there’s an actor who’s always late … I bet there’re writers who aren’t really putting in extra time to make the writing good.
8. Were you satisfied, creatively, with how all the story lines for Sara, Gil and Warrick were wrapped up?
I actually thought that they were all dead on. I love the idea about occupational burnout. Because for this job it’s just reality. And I thought it was appropriate the way Gary’s ended [with Warrick’s murder]. I love Gary, but I think that it was just good television [laughs]. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. You’re together 13 hours a day, for years. You just really begin to have an affinity for people, and care about them. When I know that I’m not going to have those people in my life on a daily basis anymore, kind of just makes me emotional. Those funeral tears … maybe I didn’t ever really shed any tears personally – but [filming Warrick’s funeral] was almost this vehicle to let it go.
9. How’re your new co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Lauren Lee Smith?
Laurence Fishburne’s a dream. I feel like he raises our integrity level. He comes in to it with a lot of humility; he’s nice, he’s sweet. I told him, “Thanks for being such a good sport, man.” Like I’m sitting there telling you what to do. It’s like teaching Superman how to fly. But he said “Hey, I came in to play, baby.” That’s cool, I love it. [Lauren and I] had an early morning on location, and she had a great attitude. At the end of the day I said, “I miss Jorja, but having you here, not being a diva, not being insecure, just doing a good job and being a really sweet person … We’re lucky to have you.” Sometimes you’re stuck with people for 13 hours in a day — who do you want to be stuck with? I think Lauren and Laurence, just are really cool people, they’re a good fit.
10. Petersen has said he was an advocate for the ‘CSI’ actors with the writers. Is that accurate?
Billy helped change the way the writers and actors work together. He helped us understand it’s got to be a collaboration. On our show, at first, they were reluctant to let us bring ourselves to the part by changing the dialogue. We used to not have a writer on set. We had to wait for hours to change something simple. To always have a writer on set — Billy’s idea. Perfect example, yesterday, I had this line with the sheriff … and I go “Let’s just kind of say that.” And [the writer] goes off and scribbles something and he’s like, “OK, just say that.” And he just did that right there. That’s because of Billy. And I think that’s because Billy gave them the confidence in me. [Laughs] “This is my guy.” They’re really confident when they turn to me to lead it. I’m their lead and I do a good job, because I have the show in line first, not myself.
11. How does it feel being the veteran male lead now?
It doesn’t feel wrong; Nick’s earned it. He’s been through everything, and he keeps getting up. But he’s kind of our warrior, our athlete of the heart. He’ll go under the crime scene tape and get into the wrecked bus and see the kid [who’s] jumped off the roof and [his] head’s splattered everywhere. Even though it’s ripping him apart, he feels like he has a responsibility to society, being a public servant. My dad was a public servant [as a district attorney] for 30 years; my mom still is a superintendant. We weren’t rich. I remember this friend, his father was a lawyer, and they lived in this big ass house. I was like “Hey dad, my friend’s dad’s a lawyer, and you’re a lawyer. How come we live like this and they live like that?” And he’s like “That’s because I’m on the side of good.” I’ve always thought that was kind of a noble thing.
12. Will Nick ever hook up with Catherine Willows?
It might be interesting for that to happen accidently. If all of the sudden they look at each other and something snapped. All of the sudden they’re out of control and in love with each other. And to me, it makes sense just cause we’ve been together for so long, we’ve been through so much together. I don’t think anybody looks into Catherine’s eyes and soul the way Nick can and does. That kind of stuff would make much more sense than them hooking him up with another street prostitute.
13. How hot is Marg Helgenberger? Can you put it into words?
Well, let’s see. Let’s see. Marg is so hot, that sometimes when I first see her, I can’t help but stare at her. It’s like something comes over you. When you’re driving your car and you’re looking in the mirror and there’s cop lights. And you’re like “Oh geez, what have I done.” It’s kind of like the heart jumping in your throat sometimes with her. To top it off, she’s like the coolest lady. And now, the last few years, every time I go to give her a kiss on the cheek, she goes to give me a peck on the mouth. The best part of my day with her. Now I just go right in for the frontal. I used to go “Ooh, Marg the frontal.” Now I just don’t say anything, I just go in and get it. But yeah, she takes care of herself. She’s beautiful.
14. Did you know that you appear shirtless in half of your YouTube videos?
It’s interesting. I look over there and there’s like 50,000 views of this thing from 15 years ago where I had my shirt off. And then there’s 700 on a scene that I was really proud of from ‘CSI.’ Man, [laughs] I don’t know if we’re undersexed or oversexed as a society. But it’s pretty funny. It’s just skin. It’s all good.