Eddie Cahill

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at August 9, 2006 - 8:58 PM GMT

Eddie Cahill

Viewers had good reason to worry about Eddie Cahill's character, Don Flack, at the end of CSI: New York's second season. Flack was gravely injured in a bombing and only survived with Mac Taylor's (Gary Sinise) skilled intervention during the crisis. With the show back in production for the third season, Cahill sat down with CSI Files' Kristine Huntley to chat about his character's recovery and what's in store for Flack and the New York CSI team in the upcoming season.

CSI Files: How is Flack doing when season three opens?

Eddie Cahill: Flack's doing pretty well! Episode one is his first full day back and he's feeling pretty good. He's still got a little rehab to go but as he says, he's running mostly on adrenaline. I think all in all he's feeling pretty good.

CSI Files: Does he have a scar or any sort of physical aftermath from the bombing?

Cahill: There is a moment in the beginning where I'm showing something, but it's never featured. It's mentioned but not featured, but I would assume there would be a scar. There would have to be a scar. I don't know if the scar will have much airtime if any at all--I can't imagine that it makes a compelling story--but it's there, under the shirt.

CSI Files: In the finale some people thought they spotted a tattoo during the hospital scene. Do you have one?

Cahill: I do have a tattoo [on my shoulder] with [my] girlfriend's name in a heart with an arrow through it and a swallow on top. They cropped it out [of the episode].

CSI Files: Do you think there's going to be any emotional fallout for Flack from the bombing?

Cahill: Yeah, I would like to think so. There's a moment we tried to get in the first episode where he takes note of something and has a brief moment with Mac (Gary Sinise) and expresses a couple of his feelings. I don't know how much that will carry through at this point, but I'd like to see an episode or two this year that gets into something, if it's relative to that [or] if it's relative to the father.

CSI Files: Flack's father never showed up in “Charge of This Post”. Were you surprised by that?

Cahill: I think [that's] because it was the finale and there was just a lot going on. My suspicion is that at some point the father character will rear his head, and I don't know if that was the moment they wanted to take to seek out [the actor] who would be that character. Maybe when he does show up there will be a reference to [the bombing].

CSI Files: Has the appearance of Flack's father been discussed at all?

Cahill: I had a brief conversation with Anthony [Zuiker, the CSI: NY showrunner] about trying to drum up some ideas, so it's in the ether. Nothing specific, but there are ideas being kicked around.

CSI Files: What would you like to see in regards to Flack and his development?

Cahill: I think this year, for all the characters and for Flack, is going to be a good year--not even to take a whole episode to delve into somebody's personal matters--but to pick up little insights along the way, little moments in time referential to what takes place outside the job, or on the job. Just little clues, points of view, mentionings that shed some light onto who does this job, to who this person is who does this job. And I suspect we're going to see more of that for all of us this year. I have heard some rumblings, tiny nuances that I've appreciated so far, but I'd hesitate to say what they are [at this point].

Even the moment in "All Access" you get an insight into what kind of guy he is through those behaviors. So stuff like interaction amongst ourselves you pick up information on the character, and then maybe something happens to somebody in the neighborhood that he's from, and you get more insight.

CSI Files: The dynamic between you and Melina [Kanakaredes, Stella Bonasera] was great in that episode--Flack didn't condescend at all to her. He seems very good at reading people; he treats characters according to their personalities. He was very different with Danny in "On the Job" than he was with Stella when she went through her ordeal. He really seems to know how to talk to people.

Cahill: In "On the Job," that scene that Carmine [Giovinazzo, Danny Messer] and I had, which I loved, was another great moment. I don't think it was so much babying that [Flack] had a sense of [the fact that] Danny was at a moment in time that [he may have needed] a little more encouraging. People spin out in various ways, and [in that scene] Carmine's character was at a moment where the second he got up from that table, something was going to be done either way, and it looked like he was going to go the bad way. That was actually fun, too, to play that moment, and it was the first time on the show that I felt like--and it was an interesting feeling, for a character on a crime show where we tend to get the bad guy all the time--that in that moment in time, [Flack] lost a little bit or wasn't quite sure if he got what he wanted. When Danny got up and took off, it left a little bit of unfinished business, and that was great. [Flack] was at a loss.

CSI Files: It was a cool moment--it really showed him being there for Danny and it not making a difference. With Stella in "All Access" it was different--how did you and Melina decide to play that?

Cahill: I kind of held back and just watched and saw what she was doing. What I loved about playing those moments was that it really was juggling between cop and friend. For all intents and purposes, I was dealing with a friend, a colleague, who possibly had just murdered somebody. So I'm playing friend and homicide detective in the same beat, and it was nice to walk the fine line, which I think eliminated the possibility for any condescension because in the moment I realized I still have a job to do, and while I think Flack's desire was ultimately to clear his friend's name, there's still very much an investigation underway. The nature of the conflict lent itself to a more patient dynamic.

Typically, had it been any old broad who shot her boyfriend, there would have been a much different tone in the room. He can get a little on the high horse. So I think that was an interesting position for him to be in because it eliminates a bit of that dare I say cockiness when he walks in the room. And that's a tool that I think the character uses. That's something that became very clear to me in the last season because they gave me such nice quality moments to play with my colleagues that I realize you see the difference when Flack's up against a stranger or somebody he thinks is guilty of a murder, he will take the tone as a tool, but it's not who he is necessarily. It's a game he knows how to play and it's his approach.

CSI Files: Flack always seems to be looking out for Danny, who constantly seems to be in trouble in one way or another. He's almost protective in episodes like "On the Job," "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Heroes". What do you make of their dynamic?

Cahill: It's funny you brought it up because that moment with Louie in "Run Silent, Run Deep"--and it was the only moment--where he says, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to be here," that was so telling. And so small--nothing really happened, it was really a statement of action--that's the kind of stuff that I love.

I think [Flack] probably empathizes with [Danny]. I think in some respects, Danny is Flack's id. I have friends like that in my life where it's like, "I get it, I want to do the same think you want to do" but the character of Flack keeps a hint of distance between what he wants and what should be done. What I want to do and what's best for the outcome might be two different things--two different ways of going about the same process. So I think in some respects, he's just as much of a hot head, but he does something else. There's something there that keeps him practical, or keeps him focused. I don't think [dealing with Danny] is ever frustrating--I think he understands it. That's the way I've always taken it, working with Carmine--I get it.

CSI Files: Flack does seem to have a great deal of empathy for his friends. Do you think we'll see more of those relationships in the third season?

Cahill: I hope so. I think that we all realize that it's interesting and it's there. I almost feel like it will happen--and I hate to say this because I don't want to take anything away from the writers--but I feel like in some respects it's going to start happening unconsciously because it's been laid down. I'd like to revisit a bit of Mac and Flack's relationship from "The Fall".

CSI Files: How would you characterize Mac and Flack's relationship--is it a paternal dynamic, or do you see them more as equals?

Cahill: I think there's no denying the experience of the character of Mac, so I wouldn't say equals. I don't know if it's quite paternal. The one thing all the characters have in common is what they do, and they sort of have their sights set on the same goal ultimately, but the approaches vary. From my standpoint, standing across from Gary and playing that, there always seemed to be an understanding there. There's a lot less said in that regard from Mac's character, but [he] felt empathetic to me [in "The Fall"]. I never felt that Flack was being chastised or schooled in any way. I think there's a great care between the two, and I think that was evidenced in the finale.

CSI Files: Do you think anything that happened in "Charge of This Post" changed the dynamic between Mac and Flack at all?

Cahill: There's a brief moment in the first episode, which is a moment of gratitude. We'll see where that goes. It could be just in and of itself where it is. Since then we haven't [had any scenes] together.

CSI Files: We didn't see much of Flack's reaction to Aiden's death in "Heroes." Would you have liked to see more of Flack's feelings about her murder?

Cahill: I think it was all summed up in the cheers at the end. I don't think we needed to see any more. I think in some respects Danny and Mac spoke for the rest of us--we were all somewhere in between on that one. I think he was equally, differently upset. You've [only] got 43 minutes. It didn't need to be an episode where all of us had our personal moments. It made sense [that Danny's reaction was showcased because] Danny and she spent so much time [together]. There's actually a nice moment in episode three that we shot in New York where [Danny] does something that impresses me and attributes it to her. It's a nice moment, a great bit of writing.

CSI Files: Flack hasn't worked much with either Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) or Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper). Do you think we'll see more interaction between them and Flack in season three?

Cahill: There was that one moment early on [in season two] with Hawkes when he first came out during the fire [in "Corporate Warriors"], and that was great. And you don't want to build a relationship on that sort of struggle, [but] it was a good little moment to sort of baptize Hawkes into that world.

There really hasn't been much with Lindsay. We sort of pass each other--the three of us work with each other and around each other. Lindsay and I took that doctor down [in "Cool Hunter"]. [Flack and Lindsay] have two totally different energies. I think Lindsay's a real standout because she's not playing cop in a way. The character's talents lie in forensic science.

CSI Files: Given the spoilers about Danny and Lindsay growing closer and possibly becoming involved, what are your feelings on the idea of introducing romance to a forensics show?

Cahill: I love romance! I don't know how it's going to play out--truthfully I'm not privy to that sort of info. In the moments we've seen a deeper care between the two of them, I think they have a great back and forth with each other. I think they have a dynamic relationship [and] I think they play off each other beautifully. I don't think the show necessarily runs the risk of becoming a love story. It's the equivalent of in "On the Job" when Flack sits down with Danny to try to reign him in, to show that someone has a special care for another character. I think it's beautiful.

I think we have a kick ass writing staff and we've all grown to know the characters in the show, and I'm really looking forward to the third season. Things are starting to click and make sense. So I think however that bridge gets crossed will be something worth tuning into. I realize too as I grow to learn what a procedural show is, you want your audience to connect with your characters. And it doesn't take much--it doesn't have to be a soap opera--but it's sort of nice to have little reference points or moments in time that inform how [the characters] behave in certain situations. It's a little more three-dimensional.

CSI Files: Flack gets some of the best dialogue on the show. Do you have a favorite Flack line?

Cahill: I think for the last season it was "Sometimes brothers fight" (from "Super Men"). I think that was my favorite. The guest star we had playing Carter, we were just shooting, and he looked up at me and just said, "Come on, Flack, I thought we were supposed to be like brothers!" I kind of took a beat and I was just like, "Sometimes brothers fight."

CSI Files: You ad-libbed that line?

Cahill: Oh yeah! Peter [Lenkov] who wrote that episode was so gracious and cool about it [and said] that's got to stay. Fair play to casting--they got a great guy [to play Carter]. He did it, he made it happen. That relationship was set up that I know this guy and he played it. So when I'm throwing him back to the pen he's like, "I'm your dude. We're supposed to be cool." He hit me with that and yeah, that was him and I. And I thank him for that; that was a lot of fun.

Those are the moments, too, when you learn--you learn who your guy is, the [audience] learns who your guy is. That's something that takes place between two actors. It was a real living, breathing moment that he [took]. It was all there--he just phrased it in such a way to make that relationship more clear.

CSI Files: How often do you get a chance to ad-lib?

Cahill: It comes and goes. When it comes down to stuff like that, it is a collaboration. And it's not restricted. Sometimes the writer himself will ad-lib something that comes down my way and we play with it. There's a good sense of play in those moments that goes back and forth between whoever is writing the script, myself and whoever I'm playing the scene with.

CSI Files: What is the most interesting thing about Flack for you?

Cahill: The most interesting thing that I enjoy playing about him varies. There's not one thing in particular. I like the quips--that's my guilty pleasure I guess. It's a part of his personality, it's a part of how he does his job, but single-handedly I don't know what the most interesting thing is for me really. It changes--we go back to "All Access" again, and that's a whole different side. That's equally as compelling to me. It changes moment to moment.

CSI Files: Do you have a favorite scene?

Cahill: A couple, but I go back to "The Fall." I love that scene where I go up to meet Sergeant Moran and he says, "You going to link me up here?" and I say, "No, you and I are going to go outside" and whatever. He tends towards the classy in moments of stress. I think he's got a care for people, I think he understands, he's got a protective quality towards the people he cares about. He's aware of more than himself, and I appreciate that. What he wants may not always be the most pressing issue on his mind.

CSI Files: Now that Flack has been through this terrible ordeal with the bombing, do you think the people he's been there for will be there for him?

Cahill: Sure, yeah, I think so. I think that's been set up. [He's gotten] pats of support, and then [everyone was] in the hospital room when [Flack] was there. It would be nice to see--and I have no idea if this is in the works--maybe him at a loss of sorts. We saw that in "The Fall" too, but maybe making a mistake even.

CSI Files: Flack always seems so together, so in control, so it would be interesting to see him lose that a bit.

Cahill: I think heartbreak manifests differently with him. I think for me that's what "The Fall" always was--that's heartbreaking. That was his mentor, his "daddy fix the moon" guy. And when that guy falters, that's a tough thing for any guy to deal with. [And] you can understand why [Moran] did what he did. It's not right, you still gotta pay the piper, but it was in the realm of comprehension, why he covered that evidence up.

CSI Files: Do you notice any changes going into season three from the previous two seasons?

Cahill: Yes, I do, I sense them, but it will start to sink in once shows are cut together. So much happens in post, and my relationship to the script starts with me reading it and developing my own ideas, and then I go off into this fragmented universe where we put it all together, but you don't see it happening. I'll get a greater sense of that once the shows are cut together. But, ideas, yeah--I'm even seeing things in scene descriptions and in the writing, but I can't commit at this point in saying exactly what they are.

CSI Files: Do you watch the show when it airs?

Cahill: Yeah. If I'm home I'll watch it when it's on; otherwise, I'll TIVO it. That's where you learn. Think of it this way: if I were to watch season one and not watch season two, I'd be doing a totally different show. You get the conversations, you get the insight, you get the scripts--I have as much information telling me how to approach doing my job as you could possibly ask for, but the final product is the result. You don't see lighting in the same way, and lighting plays into temperament and a lot of stuff. But yeah, that's where I gage what's going on.

CSI Files: Did you have a relaxing summer?

Cahill: It was great--I went to Ireland. I was visiting friends and running around. I went to New York a couple days early [before shooting on the third season began], saw some family, friends, and got to work. Did some reading. I've gone back to [James Joyce's] Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man. I [also] read a book called Nor Meekly Serve My Time, which is a firsthand account from guys who were in the H block prisons in Long Kesh in the 1976-1981 period in Northern Ireland, the Republican political prisoners that were there. [The events] led up to the hunger strike that took place in '81 where Bobby Sands and nine others gave their lives. That was really intense!

CSI Files: You're not much of a light reader!

Cahill: No, not a light reader. I haven't gotten into that yet. I read nothing with Fabio on the cover. No disrespect to Fabio.

CSI Files: Are you close with anyone off set?

Cahill: A couple of the writers and myself get on very well and spend some time together off set. Carmine and I have a nice rapport going on. All of us are friendly.

CSI Files: Some viewers think the show lost a little bit of its New York feel in the second season. What's your take on the changes made to lighten the show up?

Cahill: We're certainly lighter. It's hard to put an exact dial on New York. In one respect--I don't stand by this empirically--I think it could be argued that New York is a far lighter city than it's ever been, since probably about '93 when [former NY mayor Rudy] Giuliani got in there and Jack Maple started to turn the police department around. It became a relatively safe [place], compared to what it had been. Times Square now looks like a theme park. It's a much lighter city; there's a lot of money in the town.

Yes, it's dark--let's not forget it's still a big metropolis--but it's not a dark, gloomy place. I think it would be just as much of an injustice to the city to paint it in an entirely gray and blue light. I think what we did do in the second season was--there is by virtue of living and trying to accomplish anything in New York, there's an energy that takes place, and I think in brightening up we've picked up the pace of the show a bit, which is more accurate. That all being said, I don't think you can look specifically to one or the other [season] and say one is more New York and one is not. If push comes to shove, we've definitely got one class of New York that's decently authentic.

CSI Files: It seems like much of the second season dealt with upper class crime. Some feel that the show is only capturing one section of New York. How do you feel about that?

Cahill: In parts, sure. I don't think there's anything wrong with focusing on one area. The show's not produced by Lonely Planet--the purpose of the show is not to give a 100% left, right, center portrayal of what New York City is. I don't think we're lying. I don't feel like what we're doing is untrue.

CSI Files: When you watch the show, do you feel it's an accurate representation of New York?

Cahill: I've never seen it as something that delves entirely into neighborhoods. We don't ever make a big deal about what neighborhood we're in, that I remember. Little tiny moments--in "The Fall," there are shots that look like the Bronx, I think that handball scene (in "Cool Hunter") looked like Washington Heights. We got a couple of shots on the Brooklyn Bridge to open [the show] up--no mistaking the Brooklyn Bridge! I think for the most part they do [feel accurate], but the crimes tend to be less specific to a neighborhood. For the most part, the struggle isn't to identify the four block radius you're dealing with, but when push comes to shove and something is neighborhood-specific, I think they do seek out locations that are either in said neighborhood or representative of.

CSI Files: How long do you intend to stay with CSI: NY?

Cahill: I'll stay with the show as long as they'll have me! I envision staying with the show as long as the show goes, and I hope it goes a long time. It's fun, I love it. It's the first time in my young career that I've had that sort of nine to five feeling. And I dig it--I like having a place to go to work. I feel very fortunate for that. And it's a good group of folks, so why ruffle the feathers?

I think this year's different for us, too. Just by virtue of having time behind us, I think we're going to dress ourselves this year. We're in it now--it's its own living, breathing thing. And yes, it's certainly relative to the franchise. But I think we're in it enough now that this could be the year that defines us a little more as a show. Vegas hit their groove a couple years back, Miami hit their groove. The first two seasons [of New York] were very different shows, so it will be very curious to see what happens now.

Discuss this interviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.