Interview: Elisabeth Shue


Elisabeth Shue joined the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as Julie “Finn” Finlay, a blood spatter expert from Seattle, Washington in this season’s fourteenth episode. In her first television role as a series regular since Call to Glory, the Academy Award nominee has stepped in as the show’s new leading lady, injecting and rejuvenating the twelve year old series with fresh blood, and portraying a character with an intriguing background that continues to be explored. In an exclusive interview with Shane Saunders, Shue talks about the ongoing evolution of her character, dismisses theories, and shares what it’s like working with established cast members.

Elisabeth Shue on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Photo: Richard Cartwright/CBS

CSI Files: You’ve been playing the character Julie Finlay for about three months. Now that you’ve had some time to settle in, how are you feeling about the transition to TV and your addition to CSI?

Elisabeth Shue: I started out extremely nervous; just a very nervous beginning. I had a lot of questions about how my character would evolve and tonally, I guess, wondering how she would fit into the world of CSI. On some levels I feel like she’s the kind of character who is very connected to the depths and tragedy of the crimes that she sees, but I also feel like there’s a childlike part of her that sees the world of CSI sometimes like she’s playing cops and robbers; she gets overly excited sometimes and overly engaged with the evidence and the crime and the drama of it all in a childish way. So I was just wondering tonally if that would be a good thing for the show, or whether I’d stick out like a sore thumb and not quite be in their world. But I’m really having a great time and very happy to be there. I’m excited to keep working on the character and all the relationships evolving with different characters coming together.

We just did a scene in an episode where I play softball with Jon Wellner‘s [Henry Andrews] character. The show starts off with a softball game and he’s not such a great player. I try to give him a moment where he can hit the in; I’m on third base and he’s trying to get me in. It’s been fun to have a bunch of different interactions with the characters.

CSI Files: It seems like Julie is more grounded than when we first met her in “Seeing Red.” Are you working with the writers at all to figure out who this character is?

Shue: I think it’s all a work in progress. That’s the nice thing about doing a television show; it’s not a two hour film and then the character’s done. This character’s going to keep living and breathing. I feel like I’m still learning about who she is through all the different scenes that she comes into contact with; I think she’s always going to be evolving in a lot of ways. I know she’s sometimes childlike, she’s overly enthusiastic, she does speak her mind, and she sometimes does things that are inappropriate; she likes to push people’s boundaries. Oh, and she likes to flirt a lot. [Laughs.] I don’t know why; she just likes that. I guess she just enjoys that energy with other people.

CSI Files: The media inaccurately announced your casting as “Marg Helgenberger‘s (Catherine Willows) replacement,” even though it’s been said from the beginning that Julie would be her own separate character. Were you able to speak with Marg prior to joining?

Shue: I did not; I did not get a chance to meet her or speak with her. I think she had already left the show a month or two before I came on. I would love to meet her one day. I’m sure she’ll come by and visit, and I’ll get that chance. I’m really looking forward to it.

CSI Files: There’s an electric chemistry between Finn and Russell, and it’s played wonderfully by you and Ted Danson. Are you aware of what the writers plan to do with that storyline?

Shue: I’m not, no. I’m not quite sure where we’re going. I do know that Ted’s character is always going to be happily married and I know I’m not somebody who is going to wreck his marriage in any way. I think Finn is someone who has never really found the right relationship–that’s why she’s still single. She has a love of going out with people who are wrong for her. We talked about maybe a long time ago there was one guy she was really thinking about marrying, then he got killed in the line of duty; maybe a detective or a young cop who got killed and so Finn is scared to have close intimate relationships. It’s easier almost to rub somebody like Russell that she can’t have. They have such a great working relationship and have all this energy, but there’s no way they’re going to be together. I think those are the greatest flirtations in the world; where there’s no way you could be together so you can rub all that energy out. I think in some ways she’s been intimate with him but it’s never been physical.

CSI Files: In “Trends with Benefits,” Finn’s interaction with Charlie Russell (Brandon Jones) makes it seem that DB’s family is comfortable with her.

Shue: Exactly. I’m not a homewrecker; a character who is going to come in and ruin his marriage. I know his family, I’ve been to their house, and I’m sure his wife and I are really good friends.

CSI Files: Enrique Murciano (Detective Carlos Moreno) is returning for a couple episodes; is there an attraction between the two characters?

Shue: Yeah, I hope so! He’s awfully cute. [Laughs.] He’s going to be there for a few episodes but I have no idea what’s going to go on. He played softball with us, and there was definitely a lot of chemistry. I hope he sticks around; I think that would be good. It’d be good for Finn to have somebody who can pay attention to her, because as much as Russell loves working with her and I think enjoys the spirited relationship they have, I think she needs someone to really pay some more attention to her. She definitely needs attention. [Laughs.]

CSI Files: George Eads spoke with me about how he’d like to see a bit of a relationship between Nick and Finn.

Shue: Nice, I like that! That would be fun; I think that would be great. They probably don’t like the characters on CSI to get too intimate… I don’t know why, but I don’t think they’ve ever–except for Jorja [Fox, Sara Sidle] and Billy Petersen‘s [Gil Grissom] character. Have there been any other characters?

CSI Files: Catherine had a few, but they never quite worked out.

Shue: But never with a regular on the show. See, that’s the thing. I think they shy away from that, but George and I have been talking about how there’s gotta be something; we’re the only two single people left basically and we’re about the same age. [Laughs.] We also both share sports. We’ve established Finn as somebody who really loves sports, and it was really great to see George in his baseball outfit; he’s obviously such a jock at heart. Out of everybody on the CSI team, he looks like he could actually play ball. [Laughs.]

CSI Files: What’s it like working with George? Have you been able to hang out with the cast after work?

Shue: We’re hoping to get dinner together soon because we did not get that chance. The second I joined the show, the entire cast was just working. Everyone is working so hard and everybody is working at different times; George is working, I’m not working. We do not get to hang out on set as much as you would think, but we definitely want to get a cast dinner together. I love working with George and Jorja. Everyone has been so lovely and welcoming; they’re all just classy people. Everyone on that cast is smart and they all care about their work. Committed. Grateful. All just very good people.

CSI Files: You guys are really in the last stretch of episodes for the season. Can you tease anything that’s coming up for Finn?

Shue: I don’t know! They really do keep us in the dark about what’s going to happen. I do know that Enrique’s character is going to be around for three episodes; he’s definitely in the finale. Maybe something really goes on with those two, which will be fun. Other than that I have no idea.

CSI Files: Do you have any exciting hiatus plans?

Shue: Not really. The thing is I’m a mom of three kids, so I’m going to try and spend as much time as possible with my kids, get my tennis game back where it should be, and get ready to be back [at CSI] in July.

Shane Saunders
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