Petersen Creatively Invigorated By 'CSI'By Caillan
March 25, 2003 - 12:25 PM
William Petersen (Gil Grissom) said recently CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has left him feeling better than ever about his acting career.
"My decision to do this more than anything had to do with me feeling stagnant creatively," Petersen told David Martindale in Biography (via William Petersen World). "Acting in movies, it's way too much sitting in the trailer. That's stale for me and this is fresh and invigorating and dangerous and a constant creative battle. I mean, literally, 24/7, we are creating scripts and trying to figure out how to shoot them and be on a schedule and it's 100 people at full throttle all the time. We're making the equivalent of a feature film every three weeks. And that's exciting for me."
Prior to joining CSI, his first television series, Petersen was known primarily as a film actor, with credits including Manhunter, Fear and The Contender. He regarded television as something serious thespians just didn't do. "I was a little bit of a snob in that way. I was afraid I'd lose my soul and my freedom." But the actor has since changed his tune. "What I've discovered is that great drama can exist in any medium."
Petersen was attracted to CSI because it was so different from the usual television drama fare — something that he could really sink his teeth into. "I didn't want to play a lawyer, I didn't want to play a doctor, I didn't want to play a divorced guy, I didn't want to play a married guy. Dozens of shows have come my way, but I couldn't see doing them because there wasn't anything new in them for me. Then there was this and I went, 'Yes, yes, yes, this is the guy!'"
The decision has paid dividends for Petersen. He now has two SAG Award nominations and a Golden Satellite nod for his portrayal of Gil Grissom, and Emmy and PGA nominations in his capacity as CSI's co-executive producer, not to mention the millions of viewers who tune in to watch the show every week.
"We knew all along we were making a good show, so its success was not a surprise to me," the actor said. "What has surprised me is the magnitude of this show's success. More people see me now in one episode than saw me in 20 years of movies and theater!"