CSI's William Petersen: "I Won't Miss Grissom"

Entertainment Jan. 8, 2009 AT 1:48PM
William Petersen William Petersen attends the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com

With his final CSI episode set to air Jan. 15, William Petersen -- who has played the reclusive Gil Grissom for the past nine years -- says he isn't sad about saying bye to the CBS show. "I won't miss Grissom," the actor, 55, tells Entertainment Weekly of the show, which averages 21.3 million viewers per week. "It was a complete life for me that's reached its end, and it's reached it in the right way, I think. So I won’t miss Grissom. And I hope that the audience won’t miss him either."

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What will he miss? "Hair fibers," says Petersen. "I used to bitch about it a lot the first few years, but I became very adept at having the camera see the fiber, and using the tweezers to pick the fiber up, and then having the camera follow the tweezers to my face so the audience can say, 'Oh, Grissom sees it. He knows what it is.' I'll miss that."

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His costars aren't handling his exit so well. "It was traumatic," Marg Helgenberger says of his final show, which taped last October. "I couldn't stop crying. It was hard. I'm having a hard time now, because, you know, we had a great nine years together. It's just over. It's the end of an era." But Petersen insists he had to go. "The reason I'm leaving is because I'm afraid I'm becoming too comfortable," says Petersen. "It's CSI — they pay me a lot of money, and I don't have to work very hard anymore. "I didn't want to be on the show because they were paying me money and I liked the money," says the star, who earned more than $500,000 an episode. "I didn't want to be on the show because it saved me from having to go look for other jobs. Just didn't want it. It was too safe for me at this point. So I needed to try and break that, and the way to do that, for me, is the theater." Petersen, a theater actor who lives in Chicago, now plays to audiences of only 300 people.

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