Matt Lauria has mastered what everyone talks about in the procedural genre but almost no one is able to figure out. He’s been able to play the kind of unconventional character you’d see in a more abstract show like Kingdom or Tell Me A Story within the boundaries of CSI: Vegas‘ procedural format. But he’s not doing it by himself; he explained that Josh Folsom’s success started with the potential he was given on the page.
“Jason Tracey has these incredibly well-drawn characters, and the thing that he’s leaned into in a really extraordinary way is the depth of the characters and the relationships,” he said. “What better environment or forum for characters and relationships to be revealed than under such pressure and stakes weekly? You’re navigating those relationships and whatever’s going on in your life personally, but against the backdrop of ‘We’ve got to go now, because this person’s life is in danger,’ or ‘We need to go solve this crime, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.’
“That sort of pressure adds a really interesting dynamic to relationships. And I think Jason hasn’t at all skimped on the depth of character. They’re all multi-dimensional, really interesting characters, and they interplay really nicely off each other.”
What audiences will see as CSI: Vegas continues is not just how Josh’s relationships with his colleagues and the returning CSI characters are fleshed out, but the influence that they have on him as he continues to evolve, too. It’s a two-way street for this guy who’s never static.
“I really enjoyed developing the relationships with my castmates, particularly Mandeep Dhillon, because our characters are tightly linked together. We’re sort of the co-lead investigators or alternating lead investigators on cases We spent a lot of time working side by side, and there is a tension between the two of them. There’s a deep respect and a bond of friendship,” Matt said. “Then there’s this kind of question lingering of wait, is there something else there? Certainly, in Josh’s estimation, she couldn’t check any more boxes. She’s an extraordinary young woman that he’s so impressed by in every regard.
“There’s a beautiful relationship between Josh and his boss Maxine Roby, played by the indomitable Paula Newsome,” he added. “There’s this really interesting sort of older sister, younger brother kinship there, where they have sort of ideological differences, but there’s a lot of love and a lot of deep respect and trust in that relationship. That’s a really fun relationship to play as it goes along. And then obviously I have a blast with all of our legacy characters, and also with Jay Lee and Mel Rodriguez, who have extraordinary characters too.”
Of course, one can’t talk about CSI without discussing the offbeat and sometimes bizarre cases that get thrown the team’s way—a tradition that CSI: Vegas is going to continue. “Literally every single script after the pilot, I would go, ‘Wait, you wrote what?'” Matt laughed. “The scenario or the environment that the cases each week plunged us into were really fun or exciting and I could’ve never guessed them. Some of the circumstances are highly unusual and pretty extraordinary.
While he couldn’t say anything about exactly what Josh and his team will face in the rest of the season, he did tease that the sixth episode is “bizarre, it’s weird, it’s a little creepy. Episode six is a hoot, and I think you guys will enjoy it.”
But just before that, Josh will get the spotlight as CSI: Vegas viewers continue to watch Matt unpack his unconventional hero. “From episode five onward, more and more about who Josh is really starts to crack open,” he revealed. “You get more in [episodes] two, three, four. But I think five is when things really begin to open up for my character and [you’ll] really get to see more and more about what he’s about.”
That’s already become one of the highlights of CSI: Vegas. The science is still interesting, the bringing back of the legacy characters is fantastic, but the inherent question of the show was what would the new characters be able to contribute? Would they be overshadowed by their fan-favorite predecessors? Not when casting Matt Lauria, with how talented he is and the engaging way he builds a character with an eye that other people just don’t have. In that sense, he’s a worthy successor to William Petersen—who came in years ago and created a unique and charismatic character in Gil Grissom that completely changed the way TV viewers looked at crime-solvers.
Lauria is doing the exact same thing with Josh Folsom in CSI: Vegas. He’s reinventing what it means to be the hero of a crime drama. He’s playing a character with multiple layers, who never steers in the direction you’d expect him to, be it professionally, ideologically or emotionally. In Josh’s interactions with his colleagues he’s showing not just what he gives to them and how he sees them but he’s also playing how they’ve influenced him and how he continues to learn. Josh may be the lead investigator, but that doesn’t mean he’s not open to learning or doesn’t have his own road to walk. All of these things create a certain energy to him because he’s always growing or showing the audience something new.
Then from a behind the camera standpoint, Lauria is bringing something fresh to the crime lab, but just as importantly he’s doing it while respecting the CSI franchise, the genre, and the characters who came before him. In this era of reboots and revivals TV often seems to be all or nothing—where people think they either have to completely reinvent something or stick so close to the existing material that it stifles the project. He’s showing how it’s really done. He plays greatly with the elements in place and the veterans, unafraid to take a step back if that’s what’s best for a scene, but he also never stops letting who he is shine through.
He’s continued to do amazing things since he first appeared on CSI a decade ago, and yet you can still see little parts of that experience in this role. It’s great to see him come full circle and now get to explore the franchise from the other side. Matt Lauria’s the best thing that could have happened to CSI: Vegas, and he’s far from done yet.
CSI: Vegas airs Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.