The professional balancing act carried off by both Marg Helgenberger and the character she plays on CBS drama series CSI has not gone unnoticed by those closest to them.
Ms. Helgenberger describes her stripper-turned-crime-scene-investigator character Catherine Willows as “a very strong tough woman because of her career prior to CSI, being a single mother and working long hours.
“When you have a highly emotional life, that usually takes precedent, and my character never lets the two coincide,” Ms. Helgenberger said.
Anthony Zuiker, creator and executive producer of CSI, offered kudos to Ms. Helgenberger for her handling of the character’s subtlety. She “never lets anything personal get involved with her professional character,” he said. “She always has her game face on and is a consummate professional.”
The Catherine Willows character has evolved gradually, and in CSI’s most recent season, its third, her deeper layers were exposed, Ms. Helgenberger said. “Each year she gets more strong, more wise and more comfortable with herself, her position in the lab and its political dynamics.”
In the episode that was sent to the academy, Ms. Willows’ ex-husband gets killed.
“Mourning that loss of the father of my daughter and knowing now that it is only going to be more difficult, and yet, keeping that away from work,” Ms. Helgenberger said.
The Willows character is one of many great roles for women on TV, Ms. Helgenberger said, adding that she “would be very flattered and honored (to get some Emmy attention), but I certainly don’t count on it. I know how the Emmy voters vote. They tend to make dramatic votes and go for character-driven shows, which our show isn’t. It has very subtle acting.”
Still, the academy has voted for Ms. Helgenberger before. She was nominated for an Emmy three times for her supporting role as K.C. Koloski on former ABC drama China Beach, and won once in 1990.
She also was nominated for her CSI role in 2000. Other career highlights include a supporting role in feature film Erin Brockovich, for which she received a Blockbuster Award nomination for Supporting Actress in a Drama in 2001, and roles in Species, Species II, and Bad Boys; and a guest-starring role as George Clooney’s love interest on ER in 1997.