Many thanks as always to our good friend J for the translation.
William Petersen – An American in Paris
The famous CSI is the guest of honor of the next Sacrée Soirée. Télé-Loisirs met with him in Los Angeles, a few days before he finished packing his suitcases.
It’s during the week of Thanksgiving that we meet William Petersen. In the United States, everyone is preparing to celebrate, with turkey and pumpkin pie, this family gathering which is more important than Christmas. They’re doing their last shopping and battling huge traffic jams to be with their loved ones. But for Télé-Loisirs, our CSI has agreed to put the festivities aside for a few hours to speak to us about his next trip to France. ‘I love the country and I’m very excited about going to Paris’ he confides.
You’re coming to our country to appear on Sacrée Soirée. Do you know of the show and its presenter, Jean-Pierre Foucault?
No, I don’t know him, but it seems he’s well-known in France. Spell his name for me, I’ll do some internet research before meeting him (laughs).
Are you going to be on other French TV shows?
I don’t know. I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing during this stay in Paris. I know that I’m going to be there for eight days. I have many friends to meet up with. I particularly want to see Stéphane Godin, who dubs the voice of my character on CSI. I don’t understand what he says in French, but I appreciate his voice and above all his work. Frankly, I regret that my decision to quit the series has led to all the people who dub for me overseas losing their jobs. The people at TF1 have allowed me to get back in touch with him, so we’ll have a drink together.
Are you going to do a little tourism in our capital?
Absolutely, all the more since my wife (Gina Cirone, editor’s note) will be with me. Just before that, we’ll be spending a few days in London, then we’re going to Paris. We’re going to have a great time, because it’ll be just before Christmas. My wife and I are planning to go to the Musée d’Orsay and the Pont-Neuf, which I love.
What do you like in Paris?
In Paris, you feel alive. It’s great to be there. And if you throw a stone in whatever direction, you find an incredible monument or a museum.
Are you interested in French current events? For example, do you know our President?
Everyone knows Sarkozy. Not because of him, but because of Carla Bruni. They don’t give a damn about him. What’s important to us, us men, is her ! [He bursts out laughing.] More seriously, I think that Mr Sarkozy is an interesting person who has an important role to play, above all in this difficult period we’re going through at the moment.
Are you scared that you’ll be recognized in France?
No, I know that the French are charming. I have wonderful memories of when I was at MIPTV in Cannes [the international TV production market, editor’s note]. The French are jovial and have a fantastic sense of humor. When I go to Italy, it’s harder to handle. Once, a waitress in a café in a little Italian village started screaming when she saw me, because she thought a crime had taken place.
Your daughter’s name, Maite, is of Basque origin. Do you have ties to that region?
Yes, that’s where my daughter was born, in the north of Spain. Her first name comes from the Pyrénées, more precisely it’s of Basque origin. [Maite Nerea was born in 1975 in Montdragón, in the Spanish Basque country, editor’s note] I lived in the Pyrénées for a year to take courses at a theater school. I played Hamlet there for the first time. I was 21 years old. The Vietnam had just ended. I fell in love with the theater. That place totally changed my life.
What scoops are you going to reveal to Jean-Pierre Foucault about the next developments on CSI? There’s talk notably of an episode in Paris …
It’s a possibility, but certainly not this season. In fact, we’d love to shoot a CSI film partly in France, but our channel CBS, which produces and broadcasts our show, isn’t enthusiastic about the idea. According to them, it would risk upsetting the viewers, who might think the series was going to end.
What do you think of Laurence Fishburne, who has succeeded you?
I love Laurence. We’ve been friends for many years. However I think that the team is still working on the best way to use his talent. The producers have lost three important characters from the series in practically the same year [Gary Dordan, Jorja Fox, editor’s note]. It’s hard for CSI to find its balance again, even with Jorja returning for some episodes.
What have you done since leaving CSI?
I come from the theater, and one of the main reasons I decided to leave CSI was motivated by my desire and my need to go back to the stage. I’ve just done a play at Victory Gardens, in Chicago, the place where I started my acting career. Today above all I want to prove that I can be someone other than Gil Grissom.
You’re lucky to be thriving both in your professional life and private life. Do you still have dreams to fulfill?
I’ve been so spoiled in my private life and my professional career that I don’t even know what else I could dream of. Maybe working with French directors for example, because, in the United States, most films lack interest. One thing is sure: I don’t want to be in an American series any more. I could never do better than CSI.