Success of 'CSI' surprised its star

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

PHILADELPHIA -- When "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" debuted on CBS in 2000, the last guy who expected it to be a breakout hit was its star William Petersen.

"We thought we would have a niche audience of loyal viewers like 'X-Files' or 'West Wing.' But we have a huge audience that crosses all kinds of boundaries. It's unique," Petersen told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Since its launch, the science-centric and graphically visceral show about forensic technicians has become the nation's No. 1 drama.

"I assume that part of it is due to the quality of the show and the characters and their chemistry," said Petersen, who plays Gil Grissom. "People like the way it twists and turns on itself. Each week is a puzzle, a really well-done puzzle."

Petersen, 50, has also found himself something of a sex symbol, even though he portrays a workaholic wonk with an affinity for insects.

"I wonder how many women would want to wallow around in maggot farms at night," Petersen said, "because that's really all Grissom could give them. Women think, 'Boy, could I make improvements on this guy.'"

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