Interview: Elisabeth Harnois


This season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation saw the addition of Elisabeth Harnois as a full-time cast member after completing a one-episode guest appearance in last season’s “Cello and Goodbye.” As young, knowledgeable, and occasionally flirty CSI Morgan Brody, Harnois’ portrayal of the character has recaptured some of the early CSI magic as a somewhat new member to the CSI field who finds herself fascinated and intrigued by the world of forensic science. With just four episodes remaining in the long-running CBS series’ twelfth season, Harnois chats with Shane Saunders for his final CSI Files interview to discuss character growth, sharing a name on set, and the future of a certain love triangle.

Elisabeth Harnois and Shane Saunders on the set of this week's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Split Decisions."

CSI Files: You’re almost done filming your first full season on CSI. How do you think it went?

Elisabeth Harnois: I think it went pretty damn good.We’ve been doing better in the ratings over the course of the season, but that’s really not what’s most important for the artists; it’s just the experience itself was wonderful. I’ve made some really good friends.

CSI Files: Do you feel like you’re no longer the new kid on the block since Ted Danson (DB Russell) and Elisabeth Shue (Julie Finlay) joined?

Harnois: [Laughs.] I didn’t feel new kid on the block-ish for more than, say, a couple weeks because of how welcoming everyone was. Ted kind of immediately made it easier to be new because of our mutual confusion about things and whether or not we were fitting in right; we kind of shared that bond. Elisabeth didn’t come until much later, so she was a real newbie, but she’s doing a real good job of transitioning, which is good. I feel like I lost my new kid on the block feeling a while ago.

CSI Files: There are two Elisabeth’s now. Is there any confusion on set?

Harnois: Not anymore; at the beginning there was a little bit. Thankfully, Elisabeth Shue goes by “Lisa,” it’s what she prefers. I was absolutely excited to hear that because not only are we Elisabeth’s, but we’re both Elisabeth with an ‘s.’ It’s kind of funny that we both ended up on the same show. We laugh about it and we really get along; I really, really love Elisabeth.

CSI Files: At the beginning of the season there was a setup for a love triangle between Morgan, Nick (George Eads), and Greg (Eric Szmanda). There really hasn’t been anything with that storyline lately, but there seems to be something with Morgan and Hodges (Wallace Langham). Do you know what direction that plot might be going in?

Harnois: I can’t say much about that except we sort of touch on that triangle a little in an episode we’re about to shoot; there will be a little more play with that before the end of the season. I don’t think it will really, really develop until maybe next season. It’s coming soon.

CSI Files: I was all for a Greg and Morgan relationship, but I was really surprised by how well Morgan and Hodges worked. And from what I can tell online, there seems to be a lot of fans in favor of a Morgan and Hodges relationship.

Harnois: It’s funny that you say that, because I’m not sure Morgan feels that way! [Laughs.] A lot of this stuff is stuff I can’t answer right now; I don’t even know the answer to it. It might happen, it might not; I’m not going to say. There’s a really great line that I get to have in this upcoming episode that kind of addresses the many plots that they’ve set me upon romantically this season. You’ll see. [Laughs.]

CSI Files: I’m kind of surprised at how not one single guy in the lab finds you attractive.

Harnois: Ummm… [Laughs.]

CSI Files: That was sarcasm.

Harnois: [Laughs.]

CSI Files: There seems to be some progress between Morgan and her dad, Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann). What do you think of the tension those two have?

Harnois: I love that storyline; I think that’s one of the more important storylines than a romantic storyline for Morgan. It’s a very unique storyline for them on CSI; they really haven’t explored that type of a relationship on the show and [Executive Producer] Carol Mendelsohn herself told me how excited she was to explore that type of storyline. I think it’s going to be part of the end of the season, and it’s exciting to me and something I can relate to. When we work on the job at CSI, we’re constantly reminded that life is too short and when you get confronted with a relationship from somebody who, in your heart, you really do care about, there’s nothing like blood and guts to reinforce you into addressing those issues. I really think that’s the arc for Morgan and Ecklie. Hopefully, they will get to become closer; that’s what we’ve been arcing towards.

CSI Files: Have you heard if you’ll be back next season?

Harnois: When I got on board with this show, I signed a contract that they committed me for however many more seasons this show does [after the first year]. I signed a very committed contract. [Laughs.] Yes, I am going to be back next season.

CSI Files: What’s Morgan got going on in these final episodes?

Harnois: I’ve heard some rumors about something big happening with her, but I’m not going to say what they are because it is just a rumor; but something that would be very effecting to her. I have also read a few really great scenes that involve her verbally addressing the ambiguity of romantic entanglements that have evolved but not quite happen. There will be a little bit of storyline closure for her, I think, but she’s very much involved in the last cases. It’s business as usual but with some additional surprises and some additional drama, I think.

CSI Files: How about your hiatus plans?

Harnois: I’m going to sleep a lot and I’m going to learn all the different commutes from Venice to Universal City; something that will save me time in the morning to be a better commuter. This season, if there’s been anything that drove me insane, it was trying to figure out how much time I needed to leave and get to work. Everything else about this job is freaking amazing, but that was a part I didn’t love. I’m not going to spend more than a week doing that. [Laughs.] Probably going to spend some time in New York and abroad; we’ve talked about maybe going to Japan. And maybe some work, I may be doing at least one small thing. Oh, and I gotta plan a wedding… I’m engaged, you know. That will maybe be part of my summer.

Shane Saunders
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