BBC Radio 2 ‘STEVE WRIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON’ – INTERVIEW WITH MARG (TRANSCRIPT)
Radio Hosts – Steve Wright and Tim Smith
November 4, 2011
Steve: It’s CSI time!
(CSI theme and audio from season one is played)
Steve: Marg’s here now. And wow, it’s a complicated name. Here’s Marg Helgenberger.
Marg: Oh, see? You got it right. Thank you.
Steve: Welcome back. Because you remember that you were here before.
Marg: I do, yes.
Steve: Now here’s the thing, eleven series of CSI, and I’m thinking, well, you’ve been in it since the start.
Marg: I have, yes.
Steve: How has she developed, Catherine? Has she become harder, softer, nicer?
Marg: I think softer. Nicer? I don’t know how to define nicer. But definitely I think more confident. More comfortable in her own skin. Clearly more mature in a lot of ways. I think that the confidence is probably the thing that I think she’s probably gained most.
Tim: She was quite cold to begin with, don’t you think?
Marg: She always was kind of a tough customer.
Steve: Marg, you can disagree with him. I always do. Just say ‘no, what the hell are you taking about?’ That’s what I do with him. You may as well.
Marg: All right.
Tim: It’s not rubbish though. You agree with me, don’t you, wholeheartedly?
Marg: I don’t. No.
(Marg, Steve, and Tim laugh)
Steve: Hey, you’re my girl. I love it! So now, let me just tell people about you. American actress Marg Helgenberger is best known as forensic scientist Catherine Willows, of course, in the blockbuster US drama, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Marg has played the role for eleven years and it has won her, for example, a Screen Actors Guild, two People’s Choice Awards, and many, many awards. How did you come by the part in the first place? What were you doing right before CSI?
Marg: Right before CSI, I remember shooting an episode of Frasier. That was one of the shows that a lot of people did because it was such great writing and a great cast and all that.
Steve: Were you one of his girlfriends that came in?
Marg: I was.
Steve: It didn’t work? You and Frasier.
Marg: No, it didn’t work out. And then I also had just done the film Erin Brockovich. I had just shot that.
Steve: Here we are eleven series on, or eleven seasons as you say, and I hear that you’re leaving.
Marg: I am.
Steve: What do you want to do that for?
Marg: Excellent question.
Steve: It’s a big hit.
Marg: I know, I know!
Steve: Still number one.
Marg: How stupid! What a stupid decision!
Tim: Is it because the character is still too cold and not warm enough?
(Marg, Steve, and Tim laugh)
Steve: You’ve upset her now.
Tim: No, I haven’t. Why are you leaving, seriously?
Marg: I’m leaving because I just feel compelled to switch it up. And I’ve been doing it for a very long time and it’s been an amazing journey. I think if one feels the compulsion to kind of move on and see what else is out there, I think it’s important to sort of act on one’s instincts, which is what I’m doing. I mean, a year or two from now I might question what I’m doing. And the producers have made it very clear to me that an episode or two in the future, if it appeals to me, that I can always come back.
Steve: What do you think it is, Marg, about the series? I mean, it’s got us all interested in forensics hasn’t it? And we never seem to tire of it and we haven’t tired of the whole format.
Marg: It’s kind of shocking to me too, that twelve years later, it’s still very, very popular. The quality is still very high. With all of the spin-offs and imitators, you’d think that the public would tire. Clearly we’re doing something right.
Steve: So now what about the dialogue? Because we British, we don’t have dialogue like that. We’ve recently got Law and Order: UK, but obviously the dialogue isn’t as slick and as, kind of, because you guys, you kind of talk over each other. You don’t waste any time. Do real CSI people talk like that, to your knowledge?
Steve: How do you do it, in other words?
Marg: I remember once I was on the David Letterman program, you know?
Marg: And I was describing something and I used the expression ‘suspicious circs’. It stands for suspicious circumstances. And he interrupted me, he says “Crime solving. It happens so quickly you can’t even say suspicious circumstances.” That’s right. Time is of the essence.
Steve: Yeah, and not only that. What I love and I look out for this — I like three people talking, at the same time, all getting their point across and walking and doing something at the same time. So they’re walking, two people are getting in a car, and everyone’s still talking across each other. There’s traffic noise. There’s stuff going on. There’s a dead guy there, and you think, well, how do they do that? I mean, I wonder if it’s like that in real life? I’m guessing it’s not. (They all laugh.)
Marg: Well, I do think that there’s a lot of contemplative time. I think they’re by themselves a lot of the time, you know, collecting, just painstaking collection and analysis, and I mean, we make it look fast and somewhat glamorous and, you know, whatever. But it’s not as easy as it looks, that we make it look.
Steve: What has been your favorite season and what has been amongst your favorite shows just before we go?
Marg: Well, season one obviously will have a special place in my heart because it was so exciting to be a part of something that was a huge hit right out of the box. And also just figuring the show out. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve got until you, you know, all the players get involved and you hone it and all that.
Steve: Okay. Well, that’s all good.
Marg: It’s all good.
Steve: You can watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation starring Marg Helgenberger, Mondays to Fridays at 9pm on CBS Drama UK, starting on the 12th of December. And, of course, I’m guessing that even though you’re leaving the show, the show will go into syndication.
Marg: Yes, it is.
Steve: And will be there forever much like Frasier and Seinfeld and all of those shows really, right?
Marg: Yeah, we’ve joined the ranks of all those legendary American television shows that haunt you into our graves.
Steve: Fantastic. And you’ll never grow old.
Marg: Ha Ha! If only that were the truth.
Steve: Thank you, Marg. Good to see you again, thank you. Marg Helgenberger, everybody.
Marg: Thank you, Steve. Alright, thank you.
Marg: My pleasure.