CSI Vegas Matt Lauria

CSI: Vegas star Matt Lauria dissects the epic first season

The first season of CBS‘ revival CSI: Vegas is now available to own, which means fans can enjoy the episodes that brought back one of the most popular procedural franchises of all time. The best part of CSI: Vegas was the casting of Matt Lauria as Josh Folsom—not only because he’s an incredible actor, not only because he deserved to be leading another TV series, but because he has a history with CSI that makes it even better.

With the home release happening this week, I caught back up with Matt (you can read our pre-season interview here) to discuss filming the entire season, his highlights from the initial batch of episodes, and if there’s any one thing he’d like to see when the show returns for Season 2.

Brittany Frederick: We spoke last fall about what hooked you about Josh Folsom. Now that you’ve finished the whole season, did your perspective on the character change as you spent more time with him?

Matt Lauria: I think it just becomes more three-dimensional as you live in the skin of the character and you find out more. The really fun thing about TV is that character’s always expanding and always evolving and developing. I was given such a treasure trove of facets of Josh to explore and discover from the very beginning, and so I had such a satisfying feast ahead of me.

I had a broader sense of Josh because at the beginning I focused on my nature, where I’ve come from, my habitual responses to my environment, my relationships and my work. And then what happens over the course of the season is you end up being put in pressurized situations that reveal more character. As the actor I was taking that journey with the audience.

The relationships develop and those were fun to discover more and more. I really loved the evolving nature of my relationship with Max [played by Paula Newsome]. That was really fun because we were so close and in so many ways we’re different, but there’s so much respect and we really were worked well in tandem. And then obviously the relationship with Allie—I just loved it uncovering itself.

BF: Was there anything that you particularly picked up on as his character arc unfolded?

ML: Something that’s a cool theme from the first season—there’s this concept of nature and nurture. There’s sort of what is your habitual, ingrained, developed response to situations and people, emotional experiences and even physical experiences. But then there’s this argument that Josh is having with Max throughout the first season, lightheartedly, about the potential for people to change and evolve. Josh has changed so much over the course of his adolescent young adulthood and into manhood, and so there’s this possibility that Josh holds onto for everyone: the possibility of change.

And I think that as the season rolls on and Josh ends up in sticky situations and his peers end up in sticky situations, that potential for change is always challenged. Are you going to slide back into what’s habitual and what was the original mode that you were raised with or developed at a young age, or are you going to continue to head towards the outcome that you really, really want? That you’re working towards?

BF: You had a really unique work environment, in that you got to work with your predecessors, but the show also allowed you and your castmates to develop on your own, as well. What was that like for you in terms of your acting process?

ML: It is an honor, but it’s just like real life. Any job you have—whether you are a CSI or an actor playing a CSI or if you’re a journalist—you’re working with a lot of other individuals and this is the way that this office works or this is how things are done, but there’s always individuals are going to come in and make it their own. You have to be yourself: your way of working, your way of telling a story.

The same with [CSI: Vegas showrunner] Jason Tracey. The form is there and it’s established, but he has to come in and I thought he did an incredible job of fusing it with his artistry and his creativity and imagination. Artists only work in the way that they know how and every artist’s process, and every artist’s approach to telling a story is wholly individual and unique. It is a blessing to come in into something that does have such a sturdy history and is so developed. It almost gives you freedom to take greater risks.

BF: The fun part of the show making it onto Blu-Ray is now we can go back and rewatch. Is there anything that you’d tell CSI: Vegas viewers to go back and take a closer look at now that they have the opportunity?

ML: In episode 5 [“Let The Chips Fall”], where the plane lands and the inside is smeared with blood, it feels like there’s a shift in Josh there. My take on that as the artist, the way I was leading into that was that moment was more disturbing and unsettling for personal reasons than a lot of the very difficult things that we as CSIs see on a day-to-day basis. It can be grim, it can be gross and it can be heartbreaking. And there’s just a lot of moments in episode 5 where there’s this laser focus and it’s when we start to see Josh kind of disappear into his mind, processing and spinning through all the different scenarios. You really see that illustrated to get a front row insight into how Josh is processing this.

And I think that’s set off by the actual crime scene. That’s where it kicks in. Stepping inside the fuselage, seeing the blood all over the walls and ceiling and the floors triggers something in Josh. I have my own personal idea of something that happened when he was a kid [and] that sort of brings back a visual that he’s experienced. But then it’s also very close to home, dealing with the boy who’s now going to have to go into foster care temporarily until his uncle steps up and is ready to be a caretaker.

CSI: Vegas Season 1
Matt Lauria as Josh Folsom in CSI: Vegas. (Photo Credit: Robert Voets/Courtesy of CBS.)

BF: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about Marg Helgenberger returning for Season 2. You guest-starred in her exit storyline on the original series, so what are your thoughts about working with her again, but doing it through the lens of a different character?

ML: It’s thrilling. On a personal level, Marg is so awesome. I got to do three episodes with her and I was frankly dumbfounded by her kindness and openness and inclusiveness. I was just a guest star in for a minute; she was rounding out a very impressive long tenure on the show with people who she’d obviously grown very close with, but she still had so much space for people who were just coming in and visiting for a few episodes. And she’s a fantastic actress. The role is phenomenal. She’s a blast to watch. She’s got that incredible sort of it-factor that we just are engrossed in everything that she does.

And then creatively, it’s really fun. They’re completely different people. I did my homework for my character Pratt way back when…but I have so much more information and I’ve had so much more time with Josh. So it is interesting.

BF: I know you don’t know much about Season 2, but is there anything you’d like to see from that dynamic? Because that is a very unique opportunity to sort of merge your past and present roles in a way.

ML: You know what I think would be really cool? I have no information about this, but because of the past that our characters both have—the criminality in [Josh’s] family, and that sort of environment in that side of Las Vegas, I think it would be really cool if there’s a possibility that there was some overlap in those circles. It might be interesting to see if there’s anything there.

BF: CSI: Vegas viewers are buzzing about the Josh and Allie relationship. How do you see that pairing? Because they are great friends and colleagues, but there’s also clear hints that he’s interested in her in a romantic sense.

ML: The reality is relationships are complicated. You’re dealing with individuals. So any relationship is multi-dimensional and not as simple as we sometimes see in depicted in entertainment. Yeah, that’s obvious Matt, but Whatever it is will be original. I don’t think it’ll be obvious. And my personal take on it is there’s a lot of feelings there; at the end of the season, I think Josh made that plain. It’ll be interesting to see if that can even be a reality with the working dynamic or sometimes there’s just personal stuff that gets in the way.

And that’s one thing that I am certain that we’ll see [next] season. There’s been a lot of groundwork laid about where Josh is from and what his past was, and I think that this season will be an opportunity to see how those things that we got clues about make an impact on my life even now. Who knows in what ways those things intrude on my best version of my life moving forward. I’m nailing it and I’m with the people I want to be with and I’m doing what I love. I think that there’s an opportunity there for things to get stirred up.

Obviously I’m thrilled to tears about working with Marg and whatever sort of path our deft writers take with that. I think the big thing that I’m looking forward to is seeing what happens in the Allie relationship, because there’s just so much at stake. They were taking micro baby steps in the first season. And because of the danger and the stakes involved, I think we’ll see more careful steps. It’s just so precarious. So I’m excited about that.

CSI: Vegas Season 1 is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital. Season 2 will air on CBS in fall 2022.

Article content is (c)2020-2022 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.

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