July 21 2024

CSI Files

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Helgenberger Plans Her ‘CSI’ Exit

3 min read

CSI Files previously reported that leading lady Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows) signed on for the eleventh season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The actress has now revealed that season eleven will be her last. (Spoilers after the jump!)

Helgenberger will be back in the fall, but she won’t appear in every episode during CSI‘s eleventh season. “I asked to do less episodes, so I am doing only 19,” the actress told TVGuide.com. CBS wanted her to stay longer, but “it was on terms I didn’t find agreeable.” She added, “I wanted to do 13 [episodes] and be finished by Christmas, but they wouldn’t go for it. I’m thinking of this as my last 19 episodes.”

Rather than getting a pay increase, Helgenberger took a pay cut when she renegotiated her contract. “CBS was also using the poor economy as a way to pull in the reins, so honestly all of us took pay cuts this year,” she said. “Because I’m doing [fewer episodes], I won’t be making as much. Plus, I negotiated to do a few episodes in which I’m only working three days, so the salary was adjusted. Apart from the money, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the character and the people I work with.”

Despite the pay cut, Helgenberger admitted that finances played a role in her decision to return for another season. “Well, there’s been a few changes in my personal life,” she explained, referring to her divorce from Alan Rosenberg. “My ex-husband and I are on very, very good terms, but the way the money was divided certainly had something to do with me deciding to come back for another season.” She added that CSI “[has] been a very lucrative job for me, so this wasn’t something I financially had to do. It was something I wanted to do to build up my savings a bit more.”

Former leading man William Petersen (Gil Grissom) left CSI to return to the theatre during the show’s ninth season. Helgenberger understands his desire to leave “when it’s a late night on set and I’m exhausted.” She added, “I saw Billy in a play last summer, and he apparently is coming to the set soon [in his role] as a producer on the show. We have a great fondness for each other, and I, too, would love to switch it up and do other characters in plays, television and films. That is my plan after this season.”

Helgenberger isn’t sure how her character will be written out of CSI, but she’s hoping she doesn’t end up in the morgue. “I certainly would not want to die and have my body autopsied,” she said. “Nor would the fans. We’re going to get into what’s left of the casino Catherine inherited from her father, some of it told in flashback. This could possibly lead to Catherine’s exit. It’s very interesting to me to think that a woman my age [51] could have a big career change and develop a whole other set of skills. That’s how I’d like to see it—she’s still in Las Vegas in a whole other world and close to the action if she needs to be.”

Catherine will also be getting a different sort of “action” during season eleven as her romance with Detective Vartann (Alex Carter) is revisited. That particular development mirrors the actress’s personal life. “I have a new boyfriend who’s not in the business,” Helgenberger revealed. “Life imitates art because Catherine has her boyfriend as well. And I just heard that we are going to have a love scene together—in bed. I haven’t done that since George Clooney in ER. I’m going to have to worry if my legs are shaved!”

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