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Paula Newsome discusses unexpected, unfinished ending of ‘CSI: Vegas’

After only three seasons on the air, CSI: Vegas came to an end Sunday night with an episode that wraps up the multi-episode arc involving tech billionaire Truman Thomas (Owain Yeoman), but then introduces another crime even though it will never get investigated, much less solved. But by the time the series got word it was canceled; it was too late for the writers to redo the final episode.

In last week’s “Heavy Metal” episode, lab chief Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) was still obsessing over the hacked DNA and made an important breakthrough in the robotics case, involving the robot Ocho, which sent her, Chris Park (Jay Lee) and Cathrine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) to a mystery lab where they expected to find Truman Thomas.

What they found was a lab filled with the unexpected. The team split up with Catherine leaving Max and Chris to explore the lab, while she went in another direction. Max and Chris’ presence was detected and a canister of poisonous gas was tossed into the room. Chris took the brunt of it to protect Maxine. And while she may have survived the gas, she was held at gunpoint by a surprise character: Gray Suit (Faran Tahir).

Faran Tahir, Paula Newsome

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Matt Lauria, Paula Newsome, Andres Velez, Mandeep Dhillon and Ocho

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

This week in “Tunnel Vision,” Catherine sounds the alert and the CSI team races to her location. Penny Gill (Sarah Gilman) is determined to discover which nerve agent left Chris unconscious, while the others explore a dangerous tunnel which is underground from the lab to find Max, who is using her genius for scientific research as a tool to possibly save her life.

“Max is a very competent scientist, she’s a very competent director of the lab,” Newsome tells Parade in this exclusive interview. “She thrives, she’s a badass, but she’s found herself in a situation where we don’t know that she’s going to make it out.She’s in the middle with a bunch of people with guns. It’s scary.”

Related: Find Out If Your Favorite Show Is Coming Back or Canceled with Our Fall TV 2024-2025 Guide!

Not wanting to share any spoilers, Newsome instead talked about the shock of being canceled, what it was like to be a part of the CSI franchise, what she learned from her time on the crime scene investigation series, and how she will spend her time off.

Were you shocked to hear about the cancellation? The numbers weren’t bad.

Yes, I was shocked. The numbers were great. People who had numbers worse than ours on other networks got a full season pickup. Things are shifting at Paramount and CBS and they’ve got to do what they think they have to do.

The CSI franchise has been huge. There was the initial show, there was Miami, there was New York. What’s it like to be part of such an iconic franchise?

It’s kind of other-worldly. It’s a little like a dream. When you go through it and your scene partner is [William] Petersen or Jorja Fox or Marg Helgenberger, you have to just blink yourself back into your body. The thing that makes it easy is just getting back to the work. The work is the same. It’s just the people that you’re looking at happen to be icons of the CSI legacy. When I talk about the process of being out in the world, my life is different. I’ve been a working actress for a long time, but when you get attached to or recognized as being part of the CSI franchise, it’s different and it’s an honor.

Paula Newsome

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

You talked about the qualities that Max has, but what are you going to miss about playing her?

I really like Max. I like the feeling of playing her. She’s calm, she’s warm. She has a groundedness that feels good. I really like her.

The cast seems to have such great chemistry. You were the lead of the show but they brought in William and Jorja in Season 1 and they brought in Marg in Season 2 and Marg stayed for Season 3. These were the OGs. And yet you all seemed to gel really well. And your new staff, as well. Did it become like a family?

Our showrunner, Jason Tracey, he’s a really, really good guy. He developed this new iteration of CSI: Vegas. He was attracted to people who are just good people. We have a lovely group of actors attached to this. Gifted and just good people. It’s hard doing 14 hours a day. That’s hard work. At the same time, doing that for 14 hours a day with good people makes it easy.

Related: Paula Newsome Is Breaking Rules to Solve the CSI: Vegas Case That Could Destroy the Las Vegas Crime Lab!

You’re an actor, which is a creative profession. This show is technically and scientifically oriented. Marg told me she attended a real-life autopsy. Did you do anything like that for the role to get more into this world?

No, no, no, I pretend. I just can’t do that stuff. I wanted to, I wanted to but not bad enough to do it.

But you did learn how to do some of the procedures, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Because I started in musicals, it made it easier to do those procedures while saying single nucleotide polymorphisms and while pipetting and putting stuff in the LGMS blah-blah-blah. Doing that stuff at the same time was easy for me. It was my wheelhouse. But I will tell you what was necessary for me was I had to understand the theory of what I was saying.

Our original TA who Gibbs was modeled after, his name is Daniel Holstein. Anthony Zuiker, our show creator, found Daniel Holstein working in the basement of the forensics lab in Las Vegas. I would call him every week for every episode to have him talk me through the science so it could make sense to me. That was my way. That was my way in, talking about molecular DNA, talking about how is a single nucleotide polymorphism different than a double. Just all that stuff. That was always kind of interesting to me.

So, it was a little bit like school.

Yeah. Quite a bit.

Paula Newsome

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

What will you take away from this? What’s going to be the hindsight of it?

I learned the value of being kind to people. Being No. 1 on the call sheet of this show, I learned how much when you’re just nice to people, how that travels. That’s for everybody. That’s the crew, too, knowing the crew’s name. That became very important to me. Being willing to have conversations when people have artistic differences, being willing to sit and have that conversation, say what you mean, mean what you say but you don’t have to say it meanly. Everybody wants to get to the best outcome. People may have a different idea of how to get there.

And, also, to take care of my brain. Truly. Because I fell and I hit my head four years ago. In the first season, it was really hard for me to memorize lines, so I went to this place and he asked me if I had fallen and hit my head. I was like, “I did.” He was like, “Yeah, I can see it. That’s why you’re having trouble with your lines.” So, I started doing piano. It was amazing. Memorizing my lines became a snap.

Now that you’re a lady of leisure, while you wait for your new job, how do you spend your time?

It’s so important to enjoy the time in the hallway. You know what I mean? Because that’s the job. The job is you do the job and you’re working hard. You get to the hallway and you don’t know when the next door or window is open. The idea is just to enjoy that time. What I do is I spend a lot of time relaxing. I try not to watch too much news. I spend time with my little niece. I play piano. I do the stuff in my life that feels good.

That’s a great attitude, a great approach.

I have to. Because if I don’t, if I’m sitting here panicking, then when the next thing comes, as it does always, I’m going to be like, “Damn, I wish I had enjoyed that time in the hallway.” Truth be told, two minutes before I got the call for CSI, I didn’t know CSI was coming. I was in the hallway. Two minutes before I got the call for Spiderman, I didn’t know Spiderman was coming. I was in the hallway.

The series finale for CSI: Vegas will air tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Next, CBS Announces Its Fall 2024-2025 Schedule

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