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CSI Files

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Eddie Cahill

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at October 29, 2007 - 8:37 AM GMT

As Detective Don Flack, Jr., Eddie Cahill often gets the best one-liners and the most exciting chase scenes. But season three gave him a serious storyline--a clash over a complicated case with serious repercussions with a colleague, and season four has brought romance--and more adventure--into his character's life. Before heading off for a location shoot, Cahill discussed the latest developments for his character with CSI Files' Kristine Huntley.

CSI Files: So you're headed off to Chicago to shoot some scenes for an upcoming episode. How long are you going to be there?

Eddie Cahill: Just a day. Fly one day, shoot [the next]. We're going to do two scenes. The 333 storyline takes Mac (Gary Sinise) to Chicago and I go there at the request of Chief Sinclair (Mykelti Williamson).

CSI Files: Will that add tension to Mac and Flack's relationship since Sinclair is asking Flack to go with Mac?

Cahill: I think they've really done well with Sinclair in really incorporating him as more than just this domineering disciplinarian. It's funny, even after last year, I really like the relationship that's developed between my character and Gary's character in that it never really struck me as out and out animosity. The shit never really hit the fan. It was just a matter of two guys coming together from different points just trying to do the right thing, and finding that balance. There was a progressiveness to the conflict that kept it away from just being like, "Now you've pissed me off so you're no longer my friend." So it's an extension of that same kind of [thing]--the characters tend to come together well in tough situations. And there's a confidant thing going on.

CSI Files: In addition to telling him about the 333 caller, Flack was the one Mac turned to in "Down the Rabbit Hole" to confide in about his break up with Peyton (Claire Forlani). Do you feel like this newfound rapport between the characters is just a natural progression from moving past the conflict?

Cahill: I think so. I don't know how the decision necessarily got made [for Mac to confide in Flack] but if I take a step back and look at it, I think there are probably more similarities between the two characters than may be initially thought in that they both in their own different ways take the job quite seriously. Not that the rest of the guys are out there goofing off, but I think there's a defined principled approach that I think each of the two have. Whether they're coming from the same place or not, I think they have in common the inspiration behind the way each of them behaves. I think there's a real common ground there that's not as obvious.

CSI Files: You did a really great commentary for the season three DVDs on the episode "Consequences", where the whole conflict with Mac began. How did you end up doing that?

Cahill: That was fun! I've never done that before. Pam [Veasey] just called me and just asked. It was as simple as just sitting there and watching it and talking about it. That was a good time.

CSI Files: One of the things you mentioned in that commentary was that the conflict between Mac and Flack wasn't really played as a father-son thing with Mac, but rather two colleagues with two very understandable and sympathetic perspectives clashing. What were your thoughts about the conflict as it progressed?

Cahill: I think the progression to him confiding in me about Peyton is born out of having that type of relationship--when you have a tension between people that's rooted not so much in one person having to have the upper hand or subdue/subjugate the other--then you move forward. That's what was exciting about it; neither one of us had to abandon our feelings nor did the characters have to let their feelings override what truly was the right thing to do. You've got something to work with there, you've got a place to go, you've got a relationship that can develop. If I were to show up as the actor inside of that scene and to go in knowing that the outcome of the scene was basically me being chastised, well then, that's the end. That's the end of that situation itself--I was wrong, he was right. I just thought it was far more interesting to walk the line of right and wrong not being as clear. And it enables each character to stand on their own two feet and work off of each other to find the solution.

CSI Files: It was interesting because the viewer really could see Flack's point of view, and his concerns about all the people Dean Truby put away getting off on technicalities did end up coming to pass. What did you think about the scene where Flack comes into Mac's office in "Past Imperfect" and confronts Mac about that after Clay Dobson was released?

Cahill: That was tough. It was good because it kept that alive. Gary and I talked about this. As much as that upset Flack, it was again walking that line out of respect and understanding and eventually agreeing and seeing Mac's point of view and going along with it. I didn't want to come in and just be like, "I told you so!" and start riding him on it. The cool thing about Mac and Flack in those respects is that they see beyond themselves in a way. Yes, I kind of saw this coming, and you saw this coming as well, and now this sucks for everybody. This didn't happen because of you, we're still suffering the consequences if you will. No matter what action--good, bad, positive, negative--everything's got consequences. It was those consequences, from making a good decision, from making a "right" decision--you're still paying a price somewhere. The beautiful thing about that case was it wasn't clean. I'm glad they did bring it back because it was the kind of situation that you can't just wrap up. You don't know, you try. And I think that's where Mac and Flack come along--they try to do the right thing. They try to do the right thing beyond what they may want to do, what that initial impulse [is].

CSI Files: This season, Flack's definitely having a good year! He got to play the suave James Bond part in "You Only Die Once", and he got a girlfriend. What did you think of that episode?

Cahill: I think a lot of things about that episode. In a nutshell, that was just fun. It was kind of goofy, it was kind of out there, but that was fun. It was fun to deviate from things being so serious and to get into the glossy, maybe a little sexy fast cars, and making out, and pull the gun, tuxedos. It was a blast. It was like, "Here, kid, here's a fantasy episode--let's go have some fun with that." It was good. I enjoyed it; I certainly had a lot of fun doing it.

CSI Files: What did you think of Flack's girlfriend in the episode? Was that the kind of girl you pictured Flack going for?

Cahill: I don't want to offend the writers, but I actually struggled saying 'girlfriend' because I think 'girlfriend' was a nice way of putting...

CSI Files: Fling?

Cahill: Yeah, kind of. I sort of felt that way. There were a couple times I had tried to put it differently and then they had asked me [to use the word girlfriend] for whatever reason. And I didn't question it at the time necessarily, but I just sort of instinctually tried to shy away from saying girlfriend because it seems so [formal]. To me that rang as an established title, and I don't think the intention even from the writers was ever to make her an established woman in Flack's life, but it was the word they chose to use.

There was that one moment when we're at the crime scene and she's on the phone in the background and Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) says to me, "She's going to be invited to all the fancy parties" and when she came up to me to tell me, my hope in that was it would come across in that he was a little bit like, "Yaaaay."

CSI Files: Kind of like, "Ooookay. What have I gotten myself into?"

Cahill: Yeah kind of. Or "okay, this is what that is." I think in the episode he said they'd only been going out a couple of weeks, so I imagine they'd only been out a couple of times. But the function of that character in the episode served its purpose. I think the title 'girlfriend' could be a little strong for who she was, but the function of that character was to keep it in the CSI: New York sexy beginning, here we go.

CSI Files: Are you a James Bond fan?

Cahill: I want to say yeah, but I haven't seen a Bond since Roger Moore! I like them, sure. I think I'm familiar enough with them, but then I realize I haven't seen a Bond that was made in twenty-some odd years.

CSI Files: Did you have fun having Flack slip into that Bond-esque role?

Cahill: One hundred percent! I had a blast doing that. The cool thing was is that he didn't necessarily become a Bond. I think he found himself in the world of [big money and fancy cars]. I hope there was a giggle in it, but I don't think he was ever as cool as Bond. It was a little bit like, hey, I got the old tux on! It was a hoot, and it was cool to step out. It's a great gift from the writers to me, too, to say, "Let's play something, let's go somewhere else, let's get you out in a tuxedo for a moment and face people and do all that." Flack and Stella--it was a good team, gals and tuxes and all that. I love that suit! I'm not a big dress up fan, but wow, that's an amazing suit.

CSI Files: We learned a little bit about Flack's family in "Time's Up"--he brought up both his mother and his brother. Are we supposed to believe, given what Flack said, that his mother is dead?

Cahill: I don't know. I wouldn't jump that far actually. That hasn't been brought to my attention.

CSI Files: It sounds like he has a contentious relationship with his brother. Do you know if that will be explored at some point?

Cahill: I wish I did know. I don't know if that's going to go anywhere. I don't even think it was [necessarily adversarial]; I think it's as contentious as an older brother would be or a younger brother would be. If we look at Flack's mouth, there's no way that comes from an only child! So I think it's more of that old New York, sit around the dinner table ball breaking, "Don't get ahead of yourself, kid" [thing], especially if you're the younger brother.

CSI Files: Do you know if Flack is the older or younger brother? Do you have any sense of where he is in the family tree?

Cahill: Personally, I felt that he was the younger brother in that situation. That would be my feeling. But I don't know that the family tree would end there. I'm keeping it open! He could be one of thirteen!

CSI Files: Have you heard of any plans to delve into Flack's back story?

Cahill: I will say this: there is an episode, either six or seven, and I don't want to give it away but there is a moment of flirtation that takes place between Flack and a character we're familiar with.

CSI Files: We've heard that it's between Flack and Detective Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier).

Cahill: Right! I don't know where that's going, but there certainly was something there. And to me that would be interesting, because that's something you could really go with a la Danny and Lindsay, but different.

CSI Files: Do you think the writers will pursue something with Flack and Angell, or do you think it's just an isolated moment?

Cahill: I hesitate to say. I think there are ideas being kicked around, but there are just so many channels those ideas have to get through to make its way to the TV. Certainly the wheels are turning around the idea, but I don't know how far it will go. If not this season, [maybe] next or whenever. Who knows? I'd love to be able to commit to something, but our show is special in that we sort of find our moments to put story in, but the cases already come first.

CSI Files: Is there anything coming up for Flack you can hint at?

Cahill: Well, there's the Angell thing. I feel guilty even speaking of it because I don't know what's going to happen, but it's certainly a good moment. I don't want to pin anything on it because that could easily be an isolated moment, but certainly I think there's potential in there. [There's] nothing [else] that I know of.

CSI Files: Is a romance with Angell something you'd like to see pursued?

Cahill: I think it could be interesting. I'll leave that door open. Any sort of character pieces for any one of us I like to play. I hadn't really worked with her that much at all really. If it's a friendship, if it's a love relationship, whatever it is, I think it's cool to have relationships that go beyond the call of duty.

CSI Files: "Down the Rabbit Hole" got a lot of press for it's exploration of Second Life. Have you tried out Second Life?

Cahill: No, I haven't. I'm terrified of it! I don't even go on MySpace, let alone a whole universe [like Second Life]. In terms of content, I thought the episode was really current. I liked that, and I like the idea that that may come back, that we've still got one [killer] that's at large. I think it's fun. To me that's a real entertaining [arc].

CSI Files: Hopefully it will have the depth of the Shane Casey (Edward Furlong) arc ( "Hung Out to Dry" and "Raising Shane") from last season, which had a great story as well as an emotional touchstone with Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo).

Cahill: That was a great scene in the squad car [at the end of "Hung Out to Dry"] between Danny and him. That was a great one.

CSI Files: We saw Flack again supporting Danny emotionally last season in "Comes Around" and saving him in the finale, "Snow Day". Flack always seems to be there for Danny one way or another; what does Flack get out of the friendship?

Cahill: That's interesting. I think there's an impulse behind Flack: give and you shall receive. I think helping or being of assistance is rewarding enough. [In] the relationship they have, I don't think so much it's one-sided in that Flack's always giving, Flack's always giving. They have a great relationship outside of when they're in crisis mode, joking in the hallways and this and that, the little comments in the lab. And then getting into the other stuff, I think that's just what Flack does. That's just what he does.

CSI Files: Did you enjoy playing the scene in the bar with Danny from "Comes Around"?

Cahill: I love that scene in the bar. I haven't seen that episode yet, I haven't seen that scene--I saw a clip of it once when I was flipping around. I went to New York before that aired and I didn't have TV where I was, but that was one of my maybe top three favorite scenes to do. I thought it was a great moment, I thought it was extremely well written and within the context of that episode was a great button to put on the experience they were all going through. I think what Flack gets out of the relationship with Danny is shared experience.

CSI Files: What did you think of the moment in the hall when Danny was teasing Flack about his "girlfriend"?

Cahill: I loved it! I liked one.

CSI Files: Was that ad-libbed at all?

Cahill: Yeah, we tooled it around. [The] "does she have teeth? [comment] was one we came up with together.

CSI Files: How did you guys come up with that?

Cahill: I forget what was there on the page, but it was close, it was a jab. We kinda got into the hockey thing and this and that, and then we just sort of came up with that. We just stood on the side and I'd say, "I met her at a hockey game," and he'd come back with something and I'd be like, "Try this," and then we'd do that, and we just went back and forth and then the cameras were rolling and we'd try to have some fun. That was fun!

CSI Files: Do you find yourself ad-libbing often?

Cahill: Yeah, when the opportunity presents itself, yeah, I do. For me that's a fine line--you never want to deviate so far from things that it stops making sense, but I get a kick out of that play. That's a lot of fun to do, even when it's not comedic. I think we all do. I think if you were to leave Carmine and I in a room together, it could get nuts! I don't know if [what we'd come up with] would make sense, but it would be fun for both of us.

CSI Files: Are there any times in episodes you've filmed recently that you've ad-libbed?

Cahill: There was one we shot we shot the other night which first comes to me. There's a scene where I come into a guy's apartment who we traced back to the crime scene. There was an explosion at the crime scene and as a result, his hearing is impaired. So I'm behind him with my gun trained on him, giving him the whole, "NYPD! NYPD!" And I'm walking up to him and walking up to him and finally I'm like, "Can you hear me?" and I tap him and he jumps up and spins around and he's like, "I'm sorry! I can't hear anything!" And I won't tell you what I did, but there's a moment after that that was born in the moment.

CSI Files: You're going to leave us hanging?

Cahill: I don't want to spoil it! Hopefully it's as good as my build up, but it was fun to do. You'll get a kick out of it. I think!

CSI Files: Which episode is it in?

Cahill: That's in 11. That's actually the one we just finished. That's got a great Danny storyline in it, a really moving storyline in there involving his character. It's very sad. The one we're on is goofy, and I think it's a nice counterpoint to the other half of the episode. The director said the other day if we were to just air the other half of the episode, I think people would be thoroughly saddened. That's a pint of ice cream right there.

CSI Files: Flack and Hawkes (Hill Harper) have been exchanging barbs recently. Do you enjoy their rapport?

Cahill: There's long intervals between when we come together, but I do like that because those are two characters who come from very different places. Mac and Flack kind of came up the same way in a weird way; even if Danny didn't, they come from a similar place and there's a language there. And I just think Sheldon Hawkes and Don Flack come from very different worlds. If there's any tension there--I don't think there's contention, because I don't think [it's that]; it could just be that, "What's going on?" We're not at the same place at all times, or have these very different approaches to things. And I like that and I think Hill plays it well. We have a good time doing it. There's also moments like in episode two ("The Deep"), he winds up in trouble with Danny in the scuba thing, and there's certainly a concern for each other. It's not just a matter of you speak tomato, I speak tomato.

CSI Files: In the commentary for "Consequences," you mentioned that Lindsay (Anna Belknap) "sold Flack out" by giving Mac evidence. Do you think Flack is still holding a grudge over that?

Cahill: I don't think so, no. I don't think it was ever a grudge. I don't think Lindsay was excited about giving that evidence away. I don't think it was one of those, "Hahaha, I solved the case and I get to take out one of my colleagues." I think there was a struggle in there for her.

CSI Files: Flack seems to get frustrated with Lindsay's long-winded explanations at times. Is that another case of two characters coming from vastly different backgrounds?

Cahill: I would chalk that up to that, yeah. We actually got a chance to work together in [episode 11], which is cool. That's another relationship where we don't see each other all that often. It's not a relationship that's as developed as the others, but it's fun to play.

CSI Files: In the promotional picture for this season, Flack can be seen wiping off his gun. What does that represent for the character and is it foreshadowing?

Cahill: I don't know! I wound up with a handkerchief and I was like, "Okay, let's go!" I'm not hip to any of the meanings behind the image, but I don't know. It has been a little bit indicative [of this season]. Man, my stunt double last night made me look like a ninja! [Flack's] becoming a bit more 'run and gun'; he's gotten more physical. I think his gun has become more part of him this season. There're more moments of danger creeping up in the episode, and I think that's his test tube at this point!

CSI Files: What would kind of storyline or episode would you like to see for Flack?

Cahill: I'd like to take it into [something like] a "Raising Shane" or in some respects the avatar thing: I like going after really bad guys. I like the element of danger; those for me are a lot of fun to play. I like going after the bad guys, the guys who may hit again, the guys who are really mean, real evil. Those are fun for me to play. I get really amped up in taking that out. I like when there's that feeling in the story of, 'We've got to get this fucker.'

CSI Files: On a lighter note, something the fans have picked up on is Flack's love of food. How did that attribute end up becoming part of his character?

Cahill: I have no idea but I love it! I think that started in season one when Stella and Flack were about to take off someplace and he says, "Can I drive? Because when you drive we never eat." That was the beginning of that. I really think that was one of those lucky moments that fell my way and then you just go with that. I don't know, but I enjoy it because I would be a fan of chow myself. That's the stuff we get because on a procedural show, it's those moments [that build characters]. I think our audience is really good at grabbing those and hanging onto those and letting those live because those are our character beats, outside of "The Fall", outside of "Consequences," outside of the major storylines when you really get into something. That's who we are, that's who those characters are, those brief little moments that speak volumes--that's character.

Discuss this interviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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