Marg Helgenberger on Returning to Catherine Willows Role for ‘CSI: Vegas': ‘I Missed Her’

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“CSI” OG Marg Helgenberger will return to the role of Catherine Willows for “CSI: Vegas” this fall, a continuation of CBS’ long-running forensics crime franchise, and on Friday the actress revealed part of the reason you’ll see her back is because she missed her character.

“When I left, midway through Season 12 of the original series, I needed to step back because I played the role for so long, and it had become such a part of my life that I felt she had become a part of my identity a little bit,” the actress said during CBS’ presentation at the Television Critics Association virtual summer press tour. “Having that perspective of being away from her and then coming back and in a big way as this, I did miss her actually. I missed her; I missed her passion; I missed her swagger; I missed her spunk.”

Helgenberger was an original starring member of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” upon its debut in 2000, alongside castmates George Eads, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall and Paul Guilfoyle. The actress left the show in 2012, three years before its concluding run.

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Coming back for “CSI: Vegas” “wasn’t an immediate ‘hell, yes,'” Helgenberger said, “only because I wanted to make sure that there was a reason why Catherine would come back to this job.”

She mentioned her real-life counterpart with whom she did ride-alongs for the role, Yolanda McClary, had stepped away from the post at age 50, citing a tough and intensive career. In the series, Helgenberger wanted to make sure she and the show’s creatives approached her character’s return in the right way.

“CSI: Vegas” Season 2 kicks off with the return of Catherine Willows as she persuades Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) to let her rejoin the esteemed CSI team in Las Vegas. The CSIs investigate the murder of a dominatrix found near her secret sex dungeon on the Season 2 premiere, which debuts Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT with live-streaming and on demand on Paramount+.