Tonight, Marg Helgenberger‘s run as sexy, smart, and sassy crime scene investigator Catherine Willows will reach its conclusion. A twelve year tenure with more than 250 episodes under her belt, the actress has decided to pursue other opportunities and is bound for more success, whether it be a Broadway show or returning to film. Though her departure will surely bring tears to the show’s audience, the cast and crew of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation are looking on the bright side, reflecting back at their time on the show with the universally adored actress. CSI Files’ Shane Saunders caught up with several of the show’s cast and crew from past and present to talk about their colleague’s departure and favorite memories during a remarkable run.
I could go on and on about Marg as the powerful actress she is, and as a colleague on the set, and as the personifcation of both leading lady and team player. However, I’d like to share an impression of Marg that comes to my mind every time I think of her: the first time I saw her with no makeup. It was 5:45AM, and she had just arrived at the studio, hair still damp from the shower. I was there to talk about a scene in that day’s work, and intercepted her on the way to the hair and makeup trailer. For a moment, I was completely thrown by how naturally beautiful she is: perfect skin, glistening eyes, no sleepiness – ready for the day and looking forward to it. She was -and is – stunning. And it’s not a trick of camera magic. It’s the real girl.Whenever I wrote for Catherine and Sam Braun, I loved watching her work. She gave those scenes such depth – it was a complex character relationship – and she really committed to them. I’ll never forget filming “Built to Kill” on location at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. Catherine, furious with Sam, had to march up and confront him in front of the slot players. Their confrontation climaxed with Sam slapping Catherine. It was a rough scene, and in take after take, to the astonishment and delight of tourist onloookers, Marg gave everything to the scene. It was very gratifying for the writer, and, eventually, the audience.
Marg is sorely missed here at CSI. Her charm, beauty, talent and kindness will never be forgotten. I loved working with her and learned so much and hope I’ll get the chance to act with her again soon.
When I went to do my research trip in Vegas, I watched an autopsy. The ME and staff there told me that out of all the guests they’d had, Marg was the biggest trooper. It’s saying something when I mention that I wasn’t at all surprised. Marg is virtually unflappable. She’s a broad, in the finest sense of the word. She was the first person I worked with when I joined the cast of CSI, and I will forever be grateful to her for making the new girl feel welcome. That show will miss Catherine a lot; the cast and crew will miss Marg even more. I wish her huge luck in her undoubtedly bright future.
I’m a huge fan of Marg’s and feel privileged to have worked with her… great gal.
It’s hard to work with someone for 12 years and not miss them. I was nervous as hell during the first scene I shot with her all those years ago. She is so physically beautiful and carried herself like a complete professional. I got through the scene somehow-probably because I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of Marg and Billy Petersen. Over the years I’ve come to really appreciate her generosity and talent. She’s a great mom to her son Hugh and has always been empathetic to our cast and crew. I realize change is part of life (and TV) and I support MH in all her future endeavors. She’ll probably do movies and a play or two and she’ll shine…She’s tough and focused when she has to be and very loving if she knows you or loves you. I hope to work with her again and remain her friend for life.
— Robert David Hall (Dr Al Robbins)
What I’m going to miss most about Marg is her laugh. It’s bold, authentic, and very contagious. I plan to hang out with her often off the set to get my fix. I love yah, Marg. Who’s gonna laugh at my jokes now????
— Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle)
My first episode on the show was back in 2003. Invisible Evidence. I had maybe two lines and Marg made me feel so welcome. Every time I had the privilege of working with her, she was always incredibly kind and fun…a beautiful lady, inside and out. A total class act.
— Larry Sullivan (Officer Akers)
Marg Helgenberger is a most interesting lady. Obviously beautiful and talented. She was always most gracious with those of us who supported the show in our various ways. She always took time to speak with me and my lady Dana.
I remember like it was yesterday the time she came to the morgue to watch our work. I was working on one of the worst, smelliest decomposed bodies I had seen in a long time and it didn’t seem to be bothering her. I was quite amazed. She then told me that she had been a “boner” back in Nebraska, in between her acting jobs. She explained that she worked in a slaughter house and shaved the residual meat scraps from the bones into the hamburger pill. Kinda like “Helgenberger does Hamburger.” Anyway, she was not bothered by our “operation” asked questions and stayed through the whole thing. I guess autopsy was just a “lateral step” from her old job. The entire crew enjoyed her presence that day.
I’ll miss her on the show. She was one of the originals. No one can replace her. I thought the same thing when Petersen and Fox left. The only one I can relate to anymore is David Hall. I’ve always had more interaction with him anyway since he does “my work” on the show. So, bye for now Marg. You certainly have enriched many people’s lives. Your best acting and accomplishments are yet to come.
— Dr Gary Telgenhoff (Consultant)
My very first scene on the first CSI episode was with Marg. The cast was new, the crew. I think it was the very first day of the shoot of that first episode. People were calling her Marj and me Jerald. So we had a fun initial bonding moment as we both share Hard G’s in our names. From then on, for the next ten years it was an incredible honor to share some great moments with her both on screen and off. I’ll always dig my moments with my fellow Hard “G”.
— Gerald McCullouch (Bobby Dawson)
I was there when I hired her in Jerry Bruckheimer’s office and I’ve seen the character develop since the pilot. I also know Marg personally and what she’s gone through in her own life. To see her stand there on an apple box and read her farewell speech for the people that have been there since day one was a touching private moment that I’ll never forget. She tossed her speech on to the ground and spoke from the heart for a couple of minutes. We cut the cake together and then after that she simply walked off back to her trailer and it was over. It’s a reminder that we celebrate a remarkable run for an A-list actress that very few can do movies and television at the highest level like her. To have her work on a television series for twelve years is a really inspiring tale.
— Anthony E. Zuiker (Creator and Executive Producer)