Maxine knew she could call Greg Sanders for help when she needed it. Eric Szmanda’s fan-favorite CSI character made his first appearance on CSI: Vegas during the March 30 episode as Greg stepped in as a night shift supervisor. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Eric about his return to the world of CSI.
“It was amazing to get that call. I love this show. I’ve loved playing Greg Sanders, and I really missed it,” he said. “It was something I spent 15 years of my life doing, and I was really surprised to see the reaction of the fans when they heard I was coming back. It just made me really happy.”
In the April 13 episode, Greg will have an onscreen reunion with Marg Helgenberger’s Catherine Willows. “It was incredible to be reunited with Marg. She and I have remained good friends since the original show ended, and I was really happy when she got brought on for the second season. I think she’s an amazing person. I really look up to her, and I’ve learned from her every day we work together,” Greg gushed.
The episode will feature an explosion, and Eric teased that “Greg gets called in to help process the scene.” He added, “Greg and Catherine are familiar with explosions and have been through a couple of their own on the original show. We have a couple of great scenes in the episode. There’s one that was left out that I wish was in there, but maybe it’ll be released in some special bonus features on a DVD or something.”
The actor has a 3-episode run in season 2 and hopes this won’t be the last time Greg is helping out on CSI: Vegas. The show has already been renewed for season 3.
“I had a lot of fun. This time around the cast has been amazing,” Greg told HollywoodLife. “Paula Newsome and I are both from the Midwest. I used to live in Chicago, which is where she hails from. We bonded initially on that. Matt Lauria was on the original CSI briefly, so I met him back then. Lex Medlin, who plays Beau Finado, and I hit it off right away when we realized that we both graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena. Sarah Gilman and I had mutual friends before we worked together and, as the audience can see, we had an instant connection. I had to bust out Greg’s vest from the storage bin in my garage, and I’m not ready to put it back.”
Eric believes that Greg can “serve as a great bridge in connecting the original incarnation of CSI to this one. Marg and Billy [Petersen] and Jorja [Fox] and Paul [Guilfoyle] and Wally [Langham] have all done a great job of it as well. Greg was the youngest when the show started. He paid his dues and is so excited to be called in to fill in for the night shift supervisor because this is something that Greg has always aspired to. I think now that Greg’s had a taste of it, he’s learning how he will be in this new tradition and how he can best serve the cast in the show to be the best they can be.”
Eric admitted that the costume designer who worked on the original show told him that “they were looking” for Greg’s vest before his appearance. “I told her that she was going to have a hard time finding it because I had it. I did bring it to set to show her, but they ended up going with one of their own. I think they did use my badge from the vest,” he said.
Greg mentioned in his first episode back that he’s writing a book. When asked what the book is about, Eric cryptically responded, “I think that it’s better to be mysterious and leave people wanting more.”
Eric starred in the original CSI from the show’s beginning in 2000 to its end in 2015. Since then, he’s been staying busy. He produced a documentary called P.S. Burn This Letter Please. “It experienced a lot of success at the festivals and is available to stream on iTunes and Amazon,” Eric said. “That was my first foray as an executive producer, and I’m just so proud of this film. Everybody who was involved with it did an incredible job telling this story, and I hope to do more producing. I have a few other projects in the works. One is a play. Another is a film script a couple of my friends wrote that I would like to produce and star in. Another one is a magazine article I’d like to adapt into a limited series and hopefully play a role in.” CSI: Vegas airs Wednesdays on CBS.