'CSI: Vegas': Here's How Marg Helgenberger Was Brought Back for CBS Franchise

After a hiatus from the CSI family, Marg Helgenberger is back for its Vegas spinoff. Reprising her role as Catherine Willows, she debuted in the second season of the hit show, and fans couldn't be happier. After Willow's so-called "retirement," she learns there are a few openings due to Gil (William Petersen) and Sara (Jorja Fox) both exiting last season. Willows is immediately put to work at a "sex dungeon" where a dominatrix has been found murdered. Helgenberger left the mothership series at the end of Season 12, returning only for the finale. Fans were excited when she signed on to a one-year contract in Sin City.

In our interview with the primetime star, she opened up about why she left, noting that while she loved the role, burnout happened over the course of more than a decade. "I did leave because, for better or worse, I felt like the character, having played it as long as I did, it can be hard, but became a part of my identity, and I needed to step back and try other roles," she explained."But what brought me back was it's a character that I played for almost 12 years. So clearly, I have a great love for that character and an affinity to her, and I always loved her. I loved her passion, her swagger, her conviction, her relentlessness to uncovering the truth. And I just thought, "What would it be like to..." It's such a rare opportunity for an actor to be given a chance to reprise the role that she played a decade ago for a while."

For Helgenberger, coming back had to make sense. "The story had to be a good reason why. It couldn't just be something that was going to be a flash in the pan," she said. 


Once she spoke with the show's executives who dished on the plans for her character, it was a no-brainer. "And along with the showrunner, Jason Tracey, we came up with a combination of his idea of the Vegas Casino hotel that I inherited from my father, played by the late Scott Wilson," she continued. "Because there's always stories, especially with the gambling world, there's always unsavory characters in that world. And then what I wanted to do was to somehow bring in the impact the show had on girls and young women going into this field becoming criminalists. Whether Catherine has a mentorship to a few women, a scholarship program. So it was the marriage of those two, which I really felt solid about. This is something that I can really get behind and something that I fully believe in and have passion for."