Gary Sinise is an actor synonymous with heavyweight character acting. Most famous for his roles as Detective Mac Taylor in CSI: NY and as the embittered army officer Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump alongside Tom Hanks, Sinise has also proven his wide ranging acting abilities in the lesser known screen adaptations of the John Steinbeck books Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Here Sinise talks about the pressure of working on a demanding show and his experience of playing Mac in real life.
What is the value of having science at the root of the show?
CSI folks like the foundation of it on all three shows. The foundation of it is the same. Forensic science is going to solve the crime. And now it’s like what’s the story? Who are the characters? And the audience has gotten very used to our team working together.
How grueling is the schedule on the set?
This season we’re trying to get done a month early. So three times this season, we’ve shot two episodes at once which means we have two different crews which means I could be working on episode 5 in the morning and work eight hours on that and go over and work another six hours on episode 6 or whatever. And so quite often, we’ll be pounding it pretty hard and a lot of the episodes kind of blend into each other. You lose sight a little bit.
Do you take the character home with you?
No, I’m not one of those actors who is always in character. I’ve never been like that. But you do, when you play a character over and over and over and over every single day, there are things that you take home with you you’re not even aware of. One time I was driving home and I was in stop and go traffic, somebody bumped me from behind on the freeway. And traffic is moving by so I think, “Okay, I got to get out of the car and deal with him.”
When I started to get out of the car, the guy pulls around and takes off down the freeway. So like Mac, I jumped in the car and sped off after this guy and I’m chasing this guy down the freeway like a maniac. And I finally caught him. He pulled off the freeway, down the ramp. I went over the median to get down the ramp and came up behind and pounded on his window and got him out. And he was drunk. He was a drunk guy who’s hit me, hit and run and I made him sit down. Then I called the cops and the cops showed up. The guy was begging, begging me not to call the cops. He’s begging and begging and begging. And then he goes, “Gary Sinise! Oh man, Gary Sinise, please, Gary Sinise. Don’t call the police. Please, I love your show.”
Then the cops showed and he goes, “What seems to be the problem?” I said, “Well this guy is drunk. I chased him down the highway.” And he goes, “Well, that’s pretty- Gary Sinise! Hey, my brother’s a cop in New York. I watched your show. That’s great.” I said, “Great, great. Why don’t you arrest this guy? Okay? Get him off the street. He’s drunk.” So that was me, Gary as Mac.
CSI: NY continues every weeknight at 10pm on Universal Channel.