“I’ll give you a fact,” Jorja Fox says cheerfully. The actress has spent the past 40 minutes on a Friday afternoon talking all things CSI, but before she takes off and enjoys her weekend, she’s eager to share a crucial piece of information courtesy of a recent conversation with Daniel Holstein, a forensic detective and the series’ tech adviser. “He told me that when he started out, maybe four percent of the crime scene investigators out there were women,” she says. “But now, the statistic is almost reversed!”
And though Fox is reluctant to take personal credit for the remarkable increase—she did, after all, play methodical-yet empathetic scientist Sara Sidle for nearly 15 years on the top-rated and groundbreaking smash CSI: Crime Scene Investigation—she is more than proud. “It’s flattering because women are persistent and problem-solvers, and they have seen this is a job that they can do,” she says. “It’s also cool and exciting because on the new show we are reflecting reality as much as we can.”
Viewers will see the evidence in the much-anticipated CSI: Vegas. Set in the city where the drama all began in 2000, the sequel features Fox’s Sidle and William Petersen’s Gil Grissom—last seen in 2015 sailing into the sunset together to the strains of a Norah Jones ballad—returning to the crime lab to investigate a new threat. They’ll preserve and serve justice with the help of some new experts, including TV veteran Paula Newsome (Chicago Med, Barry) as department supervisor Maxine Roby, and London native Mandeep Dhillon (After Life) as Allie Rajan, a level-II CSI.
The co-stars had already filmed seven out of the 10 episodes when they each jumped on the phone and proceeded to rave about one other. “They are both really strong, brave, and interesting women,” Fox says. “I was so excited when it was announced they were joining the cast.” Seconds Dhillon, “I love that we’re three smart, bad-ass characters who get s--t done.”
We do, too.
How’s shooting going?
MD: Good! I’m calling from a desert in Santa Clarita [California]. We’re riding horses today in a scene, which has been so dope. But it’s boiling, so I need to have my electrolytes.
Let’s hear about Allie.
MD: Allie is originally from India. She studied over here in the United States and then never went back. And she’s really, really good at her job.
You’re a theater-trained actress from London. How did you end upon the show?
MD: I did a self-tape last August and then forgot about it. In February I got a call saying that the producers wanted to have a meeting. And then I tested for it and got it!
What appealed to you about the role?
MD: I liked Allie’s backstory: There was a trauma that happened to a friend when she was young, and that drives her in a lot of ways. That intrigued me.
Did you watch a lot of CSI back in the day?
MD: Never! We didn’t have the show available in England, at least not on the three channels I had growing up. Instead I watched shows like That’s So Raven, Hey Arnold, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And later I got into Breaking Bad.
Any first-day jitters?
MD: Well, it’s been so nice having Jorja because she knows what works and what doesn’t. She was giving us advice from the beginning of shooting. Like, when you see a dead body— you’re not supposed to have a reaction, because this is your job.
What have you learned so far about science?
MD: That it’s f---ing amazing. Also, if you stand barefoot in mud, it releases endorphins and makes you happy. I did not know that beforehand! So go play in some mud.
Could you be a real CSI?
MD: I could never, and I tip my hat to the real ones. I would not be able to deal with a dead body or blood or even the psychology behind why someone killed someone else. It would just freak me out. Even the smell of a corpse is apparently awful. I’d be sick every day.
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