CSI: Crime Scene Investigation‘s Robert David Hall (Dr Al Robbins), AJ Buckley (Adam Ross) from CSI: New York and CSI: Miami actor Christian Clemenson (Dr Tom Loman) take CSI fans behind the scenes to explain the truth behind some of the TV magic.
On CSI, approximately 40% of the corpses in the morgue are portrayed by actors, according to Matthew W Mungle from the special effects and makeup department. When Doc Robbins is slicing into a corpse with a scalpel, he’s usually working with a silicone mannequin. Sometimes, however, the show will apply a fake stomach to a thin actor—giving the coroner something to cut into for extra realism. The organs you see in an episode of CSI are most definitely fake, and the ‘blood’ is a mixture of raspberry Jell-O and Karo syrup. “Believe me, I’ve seen the real things, and these look so close to it, especially in a morgue shot in blue light,” Hall told USA Weekend.
Over on New York, the lab received a new crime fighting gadget in season six: EDNA, a sampling library with a robotic arm that helps the CSIs identify unknown substances. (Check out this previous article with a behind-the-scenes video about the device.) “It’s operated by two [crew members] down below [the floor],” Buckley explained. “I thought for the first two episodes we used it, ‘Cool! How does it know where to go?’ I had a scene where I was over against the glass wall looking at it, and I look down below and two grips are sitting on a chair turning the wheel. They’re really big grips, hunched down in this little cubbyhole, rolling back and forth.”
Miami moves tables when they need to shift bodies around in the morgue. “Sometimes we have two tables, sometimes three,” Clemenson revealed. “Sometimes they face one direction, sometimes another.” Playing a coroner requires Clemeson to wear a lot of latex gloves, which isn’t always easy. “I’ve got big meat hooks,” the actor said. “The challenge is to find every single finger hole. If I’m in a scene and I have to [put on my gloves] halfway through, I will sort of surreptitiously wipe my hands on my sides just before I have to slip the gloves on just to help in any way I can.” In order to make the motion of putting on gloves in the middle of a scene seem effortless, Clemenson always puts the left glove on the bottom and the right glove on top before filming. Talcum powder also helps, he said, adding, “Sweaty palms are death.”