Catherine Willows from Marg Helgenberger is back to the grisly art of detective work.
Helgenberger left his full-time position in 2013 after 13 seasons and two Emmy nominations for his portrayal of the tough-talking criminologist on CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Two years later, the show's run came to an end.
Helgenberger, 63, is now bringing Willows' distinctive skill set to "CSI: Vegas" for the show's second season.
On Thursday's Willows-focused "Vegas" episode (10 EDT/PDT), a Helgenberger showcase by "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker, where the evil reaches new levels even by Sin City standards,
Helgenberger played Willows as she oversaw the intensive murder investigation and Lindsey, Willows' estranged daughter, returned in the episode (Katie Stevens). She was filming judge scenes for the short-lived CBS drama "All Rise," which is now broadcast on OWN, at nearly the same time.
"I nearly went crazy. That was difficult and tore me apart "Helgenberger says. But in the end, how fortunate am I to have this chance?
Helgenberger discussed Willows' homecoming, a failed one-night stand, and her own surprising love in an interview with USA TODAY. (Reduced in length and edited for clarity.)
After nine years, what modifications did you make for Catherine Willows?
Marg Helgenberger: I wanted Catherine's outfit to be more exquisite now that I am a little older and more mature. But that suddenly changed—not to the tight jeans, tight leggings, and boots that she frequently wore in the past. However, the direction it has taken feels more like her.
You mention a device you can't even pronounce: Roman something or other—in one "Vegas" episode. How would one phrase such a technical conversation?
Raman spectroscopy is that. Some words are difficult, requiring drills like to those in school. The latter wasn't. In another episode, I actually utilised that equipment with this statement "spectroscopy using raman. It ranks right below coffee ice cream. Almost flawless. gives you all the information while preserving the proof." When Catherine is enthusiastic about particular pieces of technology, it makes me happy. It resembles a sexual encounter in many ways. And it doesn't even look all that amazing.
How is the considerably larger "Vegas" set acclimating?
It's enormous—five times as big as what we had—and I'm still finding new rooms. With all glass, it is also very stylish. One of the staff members actually stepped into the glass because they maintain it so spotless. I've also done it. Even a safety meeting on the glass has been held. Letting your eyes get used to the brightness before moving is crucial.
Have you returned to the Clark County morgue as you did when "CSI" originally aired?
I haven't returned to the scene to watch an autopsy. However, that is an event you will never forget; it was like being in a room filled with horrors where the bodies were in various stages of decay. Even just for the smell and the sights, that was a priceless experience. You never forget it. Unseeing that is impossible.
Why was the meeting with Zuiker for the special episode so emotional?
Anthony and I hadn't spoken in a while. I knew his mother Diane, an outstanding woman, and since then, both his mother and my mother have passed away. I said, "I just wanted to let you know how sad I am for Diane. And my mother passed away." I experienced this amazing kinship. That storyline was inspired by the agony and affection even though it has nothing to do with the death of our mothers. I channelled my mother, who loved "CSI" and would have been thrilled to see me back, in this episode.
Since her return, Catherine Wilows has stopped carrying a gun. Why?
The character was not formally taken on at the start of the season, thus she would not have been armed. Nevertheless, I don't believe I will ever use it. I want to take a position on that because I don't believe Catherine needs to be armed. Some of that, I'm sure, reflects my individual opinions on gun control. But I would if the scene required it.
In the "Vegas" office, complex love drama is going on. Does Catherine expect to find love?
That's fascinating. Anthony asked me whether I'd be interested in Catherine having a one-night fling with, of course, a lot younger person in this particular episode during one of our very first talks. With everything going on, I worried that it could seem a little contrived. I have nothing against it. But Catherine strikes me as having a serious quality; her personal life is precisely that. A close relationship could take your attention away from the crucial issues.
Your second marriage to Charlie Haugk in April has brought about a newfound love in your life.
I have faith in love! When I first met Charlie and finally fell in love with him aboard his sailboat, it happened at an unexpected point in my life. It is really passionate. My year has been both highs and lows. I've had to deal with the deaths of three people, including John Sacret Young, the creator of "China Beach," who was so important in my life. When you're experiencing that level of grief, you're unsure of how to escape it. Like, what exactly am I here for? Then, things start to change. I count myself extremely fortunate to have the individuals in my life. Naturally, I wish they were here. I long for them.