Alerts & Newsletters

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Eric Szmanda Talks CSI: Vegas Visit and Whether Greg Wants to Be Like Grissom — Plus, Watch Greg/Catherine Reunite

Eriz Szmanda CSI
Eriz Szmanda CSI
Photo by Piper Ferguson

If you thought that CBS’ CSI: Vegas was done with Greg Sanders so soon, rest assured that there is more of CSI vet Eric Szmanda to come.

Szmanda — who has more than 330 episodes of the OG CSI under his belt — marked his return to the franchise amidst the emotionally charged March 30 episode that guest-starred Regina Taylor. But Greg will be seen at least two more times, in the episodes airing this Thursday, April 13 (in which the team investigates a bomb that detonated at a masquerade party for wealthy casino investors) and then May 4.

TVLine spoke with Szmanda about slipping back into Greg’s lab coat, the special “bite” he brought to that first episode back, his character’s instantly entertaining dynamic with Penny, and more.

CSI Vegas GregTVLINE | When did you first get the call about coming back as Greg? And what was your initial reaction?
Well, we’ve been in talks about this for quite some time. I spent a third of my life playing this character, and I’ve grown to love him. I love the world of CSI, and it’s been a tremendous privilege to be able to step back into it and reconnect with the fans and relive some of the great moments of my life that were spent on the show.

TVLINE | Was it easy to slip back into Greg’s vibe and mannerisms?
I was a little nervous at first, because I really hadn’t thought about that character for quite some time. But there’s a wealth of information on our show preserved online, so I was able to literally go back through Greg’s time on the show and all of his backstories. Just looking at some of these fan sites or Wikipedia pages, it reminded me of how rich the history is and how the writers did such an amazing job of revealing bits of information about all of the characters throughout the 15 years.

It’s been really fun for me to see how Greg has changed. We last saw him almost eight years ago, and now he’s finally a supervisor, which is what Greg kind of aspired to be, and he’s thinking about what kind of supervisor he wants to be. In that first episode back, Greg has a really fun scene with Penny where I realized, during the scene, that I was finding Greg’s voice and thinking about how Grissom treated Greg, and if I want to be like that to “the new guy” or if I want to take a different approach. I’ve been thinking a lot about the teachers in my life growing up and the ones that had a big impact on me, and they were very supportive and encouraging and made learning fun. And that’s what Greg wants to do.


TVLINE | [CSI creator/CSI: Vegas EP] Anthony Zuiker told me that, frankly, it was a “juggling act” to work Greg’s return into what was a hugely emotional episode guest-starring Regina Taylor. That said, were you satisfied with the “soft reintroduction” of your character?
If I was going to be reintroduced to the CSI world, I wouldn’t want anyone other than Anthony Zuiker to write that episode, because he created that character, and he showed up my first day with a couple gifts to welcome me to set. The biggest gift he gave me was Greg’s first scene back. He had written in that Greg starts speaking to Max Roby (played by Paula Newsome) with a Transylvanian accent, and she realizes it’s because she asked him to come in and work the “vampire shift.” But when I read the script, I saw a great opportunity for Greg’s character to come in with vampire fangs, and so I went to a toy shop in the valley and found fang. When Anthony came to my trailer and he was looking at his script, he turns to look up at me and I had the fangs in my mouth. It totally surprised him, and he could tell that I needed to do that for the audience, so I’m glad that they made the cut.

CSI Vegas Greg CatherineTVLINE | Have you stayed in touch with Marg [Helgenberger] since the original series, or was this your first time seeing her in a while?
Marg and I see each other often; she has remained a very close friend and confidante and mentor through the years. In fact, after this interview, I’m going to go meet her so we can take our dogs to play.

TVLINE | And did you tune in at all last season for the episodes with Billy [Petersen] and Jorja [Fox]?
Of course! I saw it, and I sat back wondering when my day will come.

CSI Vegas PennyTVLINE | Talk about Greg’s dynamic with Penny (played by Sarah Gilman), because that was a whole lot of fun to witness in your first episode, their competitive nature.
You know, when I read that scene, I saw it as a great opportunity for Greg to kind of meet his match, no pun intended, in the lab, and Sarah Gilman is just such a wonderful, giving and caring person and actor, that it was a piece of cake. It just happened organically.

TVLINE | I was watching the Twitter feed that night, and the fans were all over it.
Well, I’m glad they were. I certainly felt it on set, and I think there was a moment that really clinched it for both of us. It was at the top of the scene where Greg brings up the Locard theory, and Penny shouts out the first part of it, and then they finish it together. That was, like, a meeting of the minds right there. From there on, it was “game on.”

TVLINE | So, we have thus far had back Gil, Sara, Jim Brass, Catherine, and now Greg. Who would you personally, as a fan of the franchise, like to see show up in CSI: Vegas Season 3?
One of my closest friends is David Berman, who plays the assistant coroner in the crime lab, and I know the fans have been asking for him. I think it makes sense that he would show up again.

Want scoop on CSI: Vegas, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

What to Watch Today
June 08, 2023
03:00 AM
Based on a True StoryBeavis and Butt-HeadClone HighGremlins: Secrets of the MogwaiiCarlyThe KardashiansNever Have I EverThe Other Two
08:00 PM
The Blacklist
09:00 PM
100 Days to IndyTop Chef
PMC Logo
TVLine is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 TVLine Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.