'CSI: Vegas': Matt Lauria and Mandeep Dhillon on Marg Helenberger's Return, Vegas as a Backdrop and Season 2 Expectations (Exclusive)

CSI: Vegas is giving fans all they want in more. Now in its second season, the sequel to the Network's global hit CSI: Crime Scene Investigation uses Vegas as an integral part of the storyline. Amidst the neon lights and long shadows, and dark threats that come with Sin City, Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) leads her well-equipped team of Crime Scene Investigators – Joshua Folsom (Matt Lauria), Allie Rajan (Mandeep Dhillon), Detective Serena Chavez (Ariana Guerra), Chris Park (Jay Lee), and Beau Finado (Lex Medlin). They use science to solve some of the craziest cases imaginable. Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) returns to help the CSIs face off with a dealer of death who is planning to beat the odds in Las Vegas. This combined force will deploy the latest forensic techniques to do what they do best – follow the evidence – in order to preserve and serve justice in Sin City.

PopCulture.com recently chatted with Dhillon and Lauria about all Season 2 has to offer. They also dish on working with OGs on the show and what they're most excited about viewers seeing. The show airs every Thursday night on CBS. Watch the full video interview above.

PC: Mandeep, I'll start with you. OG Marg Helgenberger is back. How is it working alongside someone with such a long history in the franchise?

MD: It's amazing. To be fair, franchise aside, Marg is a G. And I say it to her nearly every scene that we do. Acting-wise, it's amazing. We all know that she's a star, but as a person, she is vibes. She brings vibes. You want to go out partying with her, you want to dance with her. She's good vibes. I say to her, 'If I was on the original with her, it would have been going off.'

PC: Well, it's great that you're able to experience this with her and out of all places in Vegas. So I can imagine, with Vegas as the backdrop, I can imagine how the partying goes down on your end. Now for you, Matt, from what I know, you guest-starred on the original show as well. But now you're a series regular. So was it a full-circle moment for you in terms of casting?

ML: Exactly. Surreal. Unexpected. I would've never guessed as I was walking on that set on the Universal lot 11 years ago and getting to act with Marg in her final episodes – I would never have imagined that this day would've come a little more than 10 years later. It's pretty wild.

PC: And you guys are doing such a great job. Now, I briefly mentioned Vegas. So using Vegas as a backdrop for you, Matt, and as a character I would assume as well, only adds to the story. How do you feel as if Vegas adds to the story arc, and what do you feel has been the difference between obviously the two franchises for you from being a guest star to being able to really dig your teeth into this character?

ML: Great question. I mean, here's what I'll say: Anthony Zuiker, who created the original iteration of the show back in the day, the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – and now it's set in Vegas. He is a Vegas kid and grew up [in Vegas]. He's got the craziest stories from being a bellman at one of the big casinos and resorts. So I think that tells you enough right there, as far as setting it in Vegas, the types of stories and people and experiences that. Anthony must have encountered so much in order to create this idea. So I think it's the perfect backdrop for it. And what was the second part of it? It was a very dynamic and good question.

PC: Oh, thank you. I was just saying, what's the difference now, going from a guest star to being a serious regular and being able to really dig your teeth into this character?

ML: The main difference is a little less sleep, a little longer days. I think eating a lot more set food for sure. And thankfully, the people doing catering and craft services are amazing, so it's a blessing. It's a blast. I'm loving this. I get to work with Mandeep. She's my BFF. Our entire cast, including Marg, as Mandeep said, they're amazing people. The crew's amazing. It just feels like it's warm fuzzies, it's family. You show up to work, and it doesn't feel like…It's hard work, for sure. It is hard work, but it is a pleasure to be there.

PC: Now, Mandeep, for you, what about this season are you most excited to explore and for viewers to see? And were you nervous about measuring up to the mothership series, going into the spinoff, and getting a second season because of the show's longstanding success?

MD: Well, first of all, what I'm excited about with this season is there's this overriding story. It's not just your weekly episodes. There's something that's tying everything together. I think the writers have done such an amazing job at doing that. I think it's the first time actually that CSI is doing that, which is really fun and it's exciting it keeps you wanting more and coming back because you need to know how it's going to end. So that for me is really exciting. Even just reading the scripts weekly, I'm like, "Oh, this is dope. Oh my God, what's going to happen?" I'll text our showrunner straight after and ask, "Jason, are you serious?" [I ask him] every single time because it's just getting better and better.

I never watched the original, and when I got the role, I purposely didn't watch anything. I didn't know what I was stepping into. I didn't know how big of a franchise it was. I didn't know anything. And to be fair, I sort of just stay in that, so I don't have any pressure on myself. I'm just in my own little bubble, going to work every day and doing the job. In my mind, it's none of my business what the world thinks of it because it just takes the pressure off me just so I can actually just be a human.


PC: That was a very smart strategy [to have] to go into this show.

MD: Yeah, I have to. Listen, our minds are so wonderfully powerful yet so fragile. Our mental health and our minds are so important, and we've got to protect them and whatever that looks like to anyone, do that. So for me, I'm like, let me just take a step back and live in my own little world while filming and not care about how the world perceives me or the show.