CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - George Eads interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
GEORGE Eads, aka Nick Stokes, talks exclusively to IndieLondon about the enduring success of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, what Laurence Fishburne has brought to the show and how his own character – Nick – has matured over the past 10 seasons.
He also recalls some of his favourite memories of CSI, including his experience of working with Quentin Tarantino on Grave Danger, getting shot and almost blown up, and why he considers his fellow cast members to be a family who have been there for him personally through life’s ups and downs.
Q. What, in your opinion, is the enduring popularity of the show down to?
George Eads: Man, I have no idea. The only explanation for it is, “lightening in a bottle”. When you put together the right cast that gels well. That’s a good place to start. We are fortunate enough to have a great production team backing us. And at this point, we are all very close. It’s a fun place to work. And I think a good working environment is a key component to our success.
Q. Laurence Fishburne has really grown into his role in this 10th season. Was there ever any concern among the cast that it might lose popularity following the departure of William Petersen?
George Eads: Yes. Naturally. But Fishburne is a force to be reckoned with. One of the main challenges for us was bringing him in as a CSI Level One. He’s a leader. But now, his character has earned his place among us. We’re a team. He has become a great teammate. Not to mention how much I love working with him. As actors, we learn a lot from different styles and approaches to the work. Taking little nuances from one another. With every passing episode, we try to improve the work. We’ve lost a lot of viewers, but television ratings are down across the board. People are changing the way they get their TV fix.
Q. What do you think Laurence has brought to the series?
George Eads: He is a consummate professional and really loves the show. He’s such a great actor. I think he makes those around him better actors. If you’re in a scene with him you know you can take chances and he’ll be there for you. At the end of Turn, Turn, Turn is a perfect example. He’s all about making the work better. Not to mention, he’s cool as hell.
Q. How do you see your character, Nick, now – as opposed to when we first met him and you first started playing him? How has he grown and developed from your point of view?
George Eads: He has just matured a great deal. He had a great teacher. I’ve also changed over the years. I try to bring as much of myself to the role as possible. I think with every passing case he learns something new and grows closer to the other members of the team. He has gone from student to teacher. He’s been through so much. He’s become a great leader.
Q. Nick has certainly had to endure some rough times over the course of CSI’s run – so how was being buried alive by Quentin Tarantino in Grave Danger? And what was it like getting to work with him?
George Eads: Where do I start? Grave Danger was the experience of a lifetime. I’m a huge Tarantino fan. He’s the coolest, most interesting guy I’ve ever met in Hollywood. He definitely brings out the very best in you as an actor. When he directs, it’s vey personal. He doesn’t just sit 30 feet away at the video monitors. He’s right there in the thick of it. With him leading the way, I would’ve tried anything. Read our review of the episode
Q. And in Meet Jekyll he is shot as part of the season finale – how were those scenes to film given that the Dr Jekyll story was such an integral part of the season?
George Eads: It just played itself out. There are still a lot of great stories left to tell. That’s the creative challenge for the writing department. I just hope we continue to raise the bar higher with each storyline we finish. Filming the final episode was fun. Wearing squibs and discharging my weapon into the bad guys chest to save the day was very gratifying.
Q. I gather that going forward you’re set to find yourself in an explosive situation in Season 11?
George Eads: Yeah, I don’t know what our deal is with bombs, but we seem to be using them a lot in season 11! One of the writers and I came up with a great line in Targets Of Obsession. When Nick is told there may be more bombs that could kill him, his response was: “Hope not. I’m already eight lives down if you know what I mean.” The poor guy as been bruised and battered over the years. Wisdom through experience!
Q. Which have been your favourite episodes to film over the course of CSI’s 11 seasons?
George Eads: Grave Danger, Hoarders, Who Are You, Turn, Turn, Turn, Snakes, Harry’s Hog Hideout, Ending Happy… just to name a few! I’m kind of a fan of the show.
Q. Which crime scene has been the most memorable to investigate?
George Eads: That’s a tough one. I loved Ending Happy. There were a lot of twists and turns and great guest stars.
Q. I would imagine that being a part of a series as long-running as CSI is rather like being part of a family? Is that how it feels going to work each day?
George Eads: Yes. I could not have said it better myself. As a company, we’ve been together for a long time. We’re definitely a family. For example, I recently lost my 12-year-old Labrador Retriever. I dreaded going to work the next day. But when I showed up the support was overwhelming. Maverick was like our show mascot. The crew loved him. After a tearful announcement of the news, we went right to work. I would not have been able to do that without their love and support. They really bring out the best in me.
Q. Can it sometimes be as dysfunctional as a family? And do you feel the continued pressure of success and remaining at the top?
George Eads: Yes, it can be a dysfunctional family. But most of our disagreements are short and handled with professionalism. We always try to extend professional courtesy to one another. As actors, if a scene is not working as written, we’ll give each other lines to make it work. Our common denominator is our love of the show. I personally feel no pressure of success. Trying too hard can sometimes hurt you. We all just try to stay relaxed.
Q. American television has been enjoying a golden era for some time now – is it exciting to be a part of? Which other shows do you watch?
George Eads: I’m thrilled to be lucky enough to be a part of it. Yes. I love television. Hey, I was a fan first. Some of the shows I enjoy are: 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Real Time With Bill Maher and The Ultimate Fighter.
Q. As a retired DA, what does your father think of CSI?
George Eads: Oh, he loves it. I sometimes feel I’m playing a version of my Dad. I think I patterned Nick’s behavior after my Pop. He definitely has my Dad’s disposition. He’s tough on the outside, gooey on the inside. Completely loyal and dedicated to his team and the community for which he serves.
Q. Do you enjoy the crossover episodes when you team up with the New York and Miami teams? Do you watch those shows at all?
George Eads: Yeah, I watched them. I thought it was a great idea! I’d love to do it again! I’ve become good friends with Carmine Giovinazzo. And he and I have discussed how fun it would be to work on a case together. We thought maybe an episode where a New York mob is involved in a Vegas murder. Carmine and I versus the mob! Let’s do it!
Q. How flattering was it to be deemed one of the sexiest male actors on TV in 2009?
George Eads: Great! But you really learn to take it all with a grain of salt. If you read and believe the good press, then you have to read and believe the bad. I always want to try and stay grounded. I sometimes joke with the crew at work that “I was a man before I was an actor!”
Q. Away from CSI, what are your interests? And do you find yourself recognised in public a lot? Or are you generally left alone?
George Eads: I enjoy golf, motorcycling, weight lifting, billiards, and travelling. There aren’t too many places I can go without being recognized, but that’s usually a good feeling. I’m engaged to be married in June and my fiancé is usually with me when I’m out and about. I just don’t like it when people take a picture without asking me first.
Q. What is your favourite memory of shooting CSI?
George Eads: Tarantino.
The 10th Season of CSI is currently available to buy. Season 11 is now airing on Channel 5 on Tuesday nights from 9pm.
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