AN ‘EXPERT’ IN PARIS – INTERVIEW WITH MARG HELGENBERGER
by Emilie Blachere
May 28, 2011
(Note: The translation is a combination of my poor French and Google Translate, so I apologize for any errors, but I think I got the gist of it anyway.)
“I hate these old clocks. They are beautiful, but I hate their tick. I cannot sleep!” Without losing her cool and honest smile, Marg Helgenberger tells us about falling asleep the night before in her hotel room, using Buddhist chants, no doubt something she’s used to as a yogi.
Behind us, a barrage of fans and paparazzi are watching our heroine. However, before this meeting, we did not know the name of the American star, so hard to pronounce without butchering. But her face was familiar, as the star of the series “CSI: Las Vegas” she is one of the best known actresses of the small screen. On average, 73.8 million viewers worldwide weekly tune in to watch images of Marg, aka Catherine Willows, a beautiful sexy redhead with emerald eyes and head of forensic science in the city of casinos. Crimes, blood, and investigations have been her daily routine for eleven years.
“I tried to bring out her qualities,” she says. “Today, Catherine has become cool, protective, the team’s spirit. And most importantly, she is passionate,” she adds, shrugging her shoulders. “Like me!” Then she returns to her role: “To understand the tricks of their work, I spent time with real police officers in the laboratories of Los Angeles. It’s a job where you have to be thoroughly, still active, so that their reality is dark and dramatic.” Marg warns us: “Me too, I work hard. I’m not afraid of getting tired with the task. I was born like that.” Even though she does admit to being tired of donning the same suit for 11 seasons and 250 episodes. “It’s hard to leave this team,” she admits. It is a real family. When the technicians heard of my departure, they all came to see me one by one, tears in their eyes. I was very touched. But I think about what I want for season 12. I’ll be back, for sure, but probably for appearances. I want to do something else. I would like to rotate being on stage and on TV. I actually have an appointment with producers in New York to discuss it. My dream? To work with directors such as Lars von Trier, Steven Spielberg, and Steven Soderbergh. For an actress of my age, it’s now or never!”
Her face bears no trace of her lack of sleep and even less signs of age. With her perfect curves and size 34, no one can guess it. Marg is flattered. “I am 52 years old, she says, but I’m still young in my head. I practice yoga, have always been athletic; maybe it’s linked. I also love swimming. I was a lifeguard; I even competed. At sea, I forget that everyone cannot follow me.” The actress leads a healthy life, away from worldly Hollywood. She walks in the hills of California with her dog Henry, reads a lot, like Molière which she “studied in college.” She makes notes on scraps of paper of titles of the songs she likes to “go and buy later.” However, she hates to cook, “I’m not a bad cook, but I do not like it.” We forgive her.
Marg is radiant. Her secret? “Love, family,” she assures. “I was married for twenty years with Alan Rosenberg, actor-producer. We divorced in 2009, but, thank God, we are still good friends. For over a year, I’ve been with Alan Finkelstein, a producer I knew a long time. With him, I enjoy life. I’m in love! He loves traveling and contemporary art. Through him I’ve learned a lot. I discovered Paris, the Orangerie, the Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais … I’ve traveled all over Europe. We also went to St. Bart’s in February.”
A dream for this kid from Nebraska, a region lost in the center of the United States. “I come from Fremont, a town in the Midwest. When I was young, I worked during the holidays in a slaughterhouse with my father. I cut meat all day to make a few dollars. I also did the weather on a local TV channel before joining the Northwestern University’s Drama School.” When she left, she found a role on a daytime TV series, then won an Emmy Award for her role as prostitute in” China Beach, played supporting roles in films such as Alien and Erin Brockovich, and won the “Holy Grail”: to play George Clooney’s love interest on E.R.
At 40, finally, she was successful. Today, she has the recognition from her peers and the wages of fame: $375,000 dollars per episode. Marg yet regrets “not having spent time with Hugh, her son of 20. Today I have the empty nest syndrome! He’s a great kid; he is charming, friendly, intelligent, and kind.” Then she gets up to sign autographs, steps into the hotel shop to buy a teddy bear for a family member, and we slipped into the hall, “Now that I’ll have more time, I’m going to help Hugh as much as I can. Other than that, we’ll see what happens. I look forward to the next chapter! “
You can read the original interview in French HERE.