BBC BREAKFAST SHOW – INTERVIEW WITH MARG (TRANSCRIPT)
Hosted by Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams
November 3, 2011
Sian: The American television series CSI, about a team of forensics investigators, was first broadcast eleven years ago. It’s become a worldwide success.
Bill: So, we have good news and bad news for you if you are a fan of the show here in the UK. The good news is that the entire first series is to be shown again next month. The bad news is that one of its stars, Marg Helgenberger, is leaving the series. We’ll find out in just a moment as to why. Good morning, Marg.
Sian: Good morning.
Marg: Good morning.
Bill: First, here’s a look back at her very first episode.
(A clip from CSI is shown)
Bill: Yeah, we all do that (referring to “I tripped over a rattle” comment in the clip). Morning, Marg.
Marg: Good morning.
Bill: That was filmed — how many years ago was that?
Marg: That was done close to twelve years ago.
Bill: It’s like it was yesterday.
Sian: When your son was nine years old, and he’s now?
Sian: Twenty-one and working on the show.
Marg: He’s twenty-one and working as a production assistant. Yes.
Bill: And you’ve always played — is it your official title, blood spatter analyst. Is that it?
Marg: For some reason, I got that label. I don’t even know why. I mean, other times I seem to be better at fingerprinting. But I’m good at it all. (jokes) I can handle it all.
Bill: Yeah. Jill of all trades.
Sian: Did you think that when you were doing that pilot that this was a show that was going to last so long? To have 70 million viewers?
Marg: I believed in the show from the beginning from having read the script and then seeing that pilot shot, put together. This kind of success, I never would have anticipated. Being here twelve years later, we’re having the whole world sort of enamored with it.
Bill: How many series are there that last that long on television?
Marg: Not many! In fact, at the craft service table at work, there’s a big bulletin board of, you know, events that are coming up and this and that, and there’s a list of the longest running shows. At the top, it’s The Simpsons, of course. And then we’re…
Bill: Which isn’t real.
Marg: Pardon me?
Bill: Which isn’t real.
Marg: Well yeah, of scripted shows I think it’s still something like Gunsmoke.
Bill: Where does CSI come?
Marg: We are somewhere in the middle. Actually, there are a few shows that have gone eleven seasons, or twelve seasons, and I don’t think there’s any end in sight.
Sian: You love the show. You’ve been in it a long time. It’s a great part. Why are you leaving?
Marg: Why am I leaving? That’s an excellent question. You know, sometimes I question what I’m…am I doing the right thing. But it’s, you know, sometimes you feel a need to switch it up and that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I just, I feel as long as I still have the hunger to put myself back out there into the auditioning world. God, that will be crazy!
Sian: You’ll go back into the auditioning world?
Marg: Well, I mean, I would, I mean for — not necessarily for television — and I always know that I can always go back into television, and I can even, you know, if I want — I’m sure I could come back and do this series. It’s certainly been made very clear to me.
Bill: Oh, so they’re leaving the door open? You’re not going to die in a hail of bullets at least?
Marg: No. No, I wouldn’t want that because then, of course, my body would… my corpse…would have to be processed, and that’s just way too…
Sian: Are you squeamish? Because I see some of those shots, and I think, I know it’s fake, but somehow I’m not sure I want to stand over it.
Marg: Well, I’ve actually, you know, witnessed real autopsies so in comparison, you know, there’s no… because you just don’t get this full effect from a… The smell is probably the most intense thing about it.
Sian: Did they tell you that you had to do that for the part?
Marg: They didn’t say I had to. It wasn’t mandatory, but I was… I asked for it and I was glad that I did because it’s something that doesn’t ever leave you. You’ll always have that very strong sense memory of the experience.
Bill: The truth is sort of colder and darker really. It cannot be helped that CSI is going to condense what would be weeks or even months of work into forty-seven, fifty minutes — that sort of thing, isn’t it?
Marg: Correct. Yeah.
Bill: But it would be a pretty slow show otherwise if it went that long.
Marg: Yes, yes. Well, in fact, when I …back when I rode along with one of the criminalists and one of the calls was ‘dead body at the Hard Rock Hotel’, and I was scheduled to go to the coroner’s office the following day, and they said well he’s probably going to be one of the
bodies that you — will be a part of the autopsy. So I was able to track the whole case because then I exchanged email addresses with the coroner, because obviously the toxicology report takes a few weeks.
Sian: Do you think one of the reasons for its success is that you actually feel you learn something in CSI?
Marg: Yes, I think people — it makes people…
Sian: Like when you yank a piece of hair out, like in the Pilot episode. If you yank a bit of hair out, then it looks different under a microscope than if it falls out naturally. That’s something you wouldn’t ordinarily know.
Marg: Correct. I think it does make people feel… It’s a smart show. It’s… and you do learn. And it makes science sort of fun, and that’s why I think a lot of school children, certainly back in the States, they teach science through the use of criminal science.
Bill: So, before you were on CSI, we saw you on television for various different things. You were a love interest in Frasier once?
Marg: Yes, I was. That was a lot of fun.
Bill: You were George Clooney’s love interest in E.R.
Marg: Which was a hell of a lot of fun.(laughs)
Bill: So whose love interest are you going to be when you move on from CSI? Who would you like to be?
Marg: Oh gosh, there’s quite a few. (laughs) You know what? I’d love to work with, I mean, there are a lot of actors that I’d love to have the opportunity to work with. I love Viggo Mortensen. I’ve always…
Bill: That would be a good love interest.
Marg: Yes, he’s very handsome and…but just a wonderful actor. I’ve always liked Al Pacino. I think he’s a terrific actor. And a lot of English actors. Gosh, a lot of wonderful English actors.
Bill: You can make a few contacts while you’re over here.
Marg: Why not?
Sian: Good luck.
Marg: Thank you.
Sian: Good luck with the leaving of the show. Leave while the party is still in full swing and you still love it.
Marg: That’s what somebody said to me. I’m going with that.
Bill: It’s still in production. Do you know when we’ll see your last episode here? Any idea? Here in the UK?
Marg: I wish I knew, but I don’t. I know when it’s going to be in America.
Bill: In America?
Marg: Towards the end of January.
Bill: Okay. Alright. Good luck with that.
Marg: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
Bill: The original series of CSI: Crime Series Investigation on CBS Drama UK. You can see it December 12th at 9 o’clock.