TRANSCRIPT OF CBS THIS MORNING INTERVIEW WITH MARG HELGENBERGER
CBS This Morning
January 17, 2012
Gail: She’s been collecting fingerprints and other evidence on CSI since the hit CBS series began back in 2000.
Charlie: But next week Crime Scene Investigator Catherine Willows is turning in her badge and Marg Helgenberger is here to tell us exactly why.
Charile: Good morning.
Marg: Good morning, Charlie. Good morning, Gail.
Gail: Good morning. Good morning.
Charlie: So the question that I have is, this is one of the great franchises in television history…
Marg: Yes, yes.
Charlie: And highest paid.
Marg: And what?
Charlie: And highest paid, they say. (Marg laughs)
Gail: Not a bad thing, Marg.
Charlie: And you had this remarkable run. What causes one to say ‘Now’s the time to go’?
Marg: Well, that’s an excellent question, one I’ve been asked quite a bit lately and I was starting to… It has been an incredible run with an incredible group of people. The show still has — does very well around the world, number one in the world. It’s still a great quality. It was a very difficult decision. I just think I felt the need to kind of step back, because I’ve been playing that character for eleven and a half years. To assess, re-assess, and regroup, and as scary as that is, I’m also sort of very excited about the great wide open, the future, and all the possibilities.
Gail: I was wondering about the scariness of it because your mom is in the green room — I love that you came with your mom, number one — But when I was growing up, my mom used to always say ‘You never leave a job without a job. It’s always easier to get a job from a job.’ Are you worried about it or you just feel ‘I’m just open to all possibilities whatever that is’?
Marg: I’m not worried so much about it. But I’m more excited about all the possibilities than I am worried. I mean, the fact that I did have such a great experience on CSI it’ll be hard, the bar’s set pretty high, so…
Charlie: But you have a lot of interests as well.
Marg: A lot of interests?
Charlie: Interests. Yeah, things that you might want to do.
Marg: Yes, career-wise as well as just, you know, life style in terms of having the time now.
Charlie: And supporting certain causes that you do so well with breast cancer, things like that.
Charlie: The character went through a very interesting evolution. Tell me where it started and where you’re ending it.
Marg: The character was introduced in the pilot scripts as ‘Catherine Willows, CSI3, single mother, ex-stripper’.
Marg: Ex-stripper. There was no…there was no…
Gail: What was that like, ex-stripper?
Marg: There was…it wasn’t at all tawdry. There was nothing actually there. There was no scenes filmed of, any flashbacks of Catherine, in that episode. And some of the producers, the female producers, thought about changing that back story once we got picked up and got put on the air. And I said, No no no, this is a woman who really, you know, she — that journey she took is quite different than most people that go into law enforcement, and I thought it really informed the character and formed the back story. So I’m glad that they — I stood up for my ‘stripperdom’. And so yes, she’s…and then that allowed her, her sexuality wasn’t being necessarily something she hadn’t to run away from. It certainly didn’t inhibit her job.
Gail: What would you like to do? You know, after twelve seasons, what would you like to do? And you’re so identified with her.
Gail: What are you thinking?
Marg: Well, because I’m so identified with her, I’d perhaps like to do something that’s quite different, you know, that’s…
Gail: A stripper, perhaps.
Gail: Listen, listen Marg, that’s different. That’s very different. But really what would you like to do?
Marg: I would, well as far as ideally, I’d like to do a play, perhaps here in New York City. A new play would be great, but I’m very interested in a revival. I haven’t been in a full production of a play in a gazillion years. But the type of role, I mean, I think I’d like to play somebody that was just kind of an ordinary woman that’s under extraordinary circumstances, you know. That doesn’t have a whole lot of like the glam factor is sort of dialed down a bit.
Charlie: As you look at all those options that might be there, whether it’s theater, whether there’s another film, or there’s a different character, before you do that, look back for a second — is there an episode, is there a moment, is there something that happened over this really successful run that you’ll always remember?
Marg: Wow! Well, because it’s so fresh in my memory, the last episode that I shot in which Catherine. I don’t want to give too much away actually. It was an option actually where Catherine has a chance to say goodbye to the team, and then shortly after that I, Marg, said goodbye to the crew, and I got a nail pounded into my last mark on where I stood last. And that’s my permanent mark. They’re going to fashion something there for me which will be there on Stage 24, Universal Studios. It was an emotional journey. So… and then the lead up to it, the arc of the three episode arc was action packed as well as emotional. So I, these because of probably… Although so many, so many have an impact on me.
Gail: Will you watch the last episode? I’m always curious. You’ve shot it, we all know what happens, or I know what happens. Will you watch the last episode?
Marg: I will watch the last episode. Whether I want to see it by myself or with a group of people, I’m not exactly sure. Because I know there will be some tears.
Gail: Bet your mom will watch with you. I met her.
Gail: She’s very nice. She’ll watch with you.
Gail: Thank you, Marg.
Marg: Thank you.
Gail: Continued success in whatever you decide to do.
Marg: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Charlie: Thank you. Great to meet you.
Marg: You too.
Gail: A play in New York, I like that idea.
Gail: You can see her final two episodes of CSI tomorrow and next Wednesday at 10:00. That’s, of course, 9 central right here on CBS.