In the Sept. 27 premiere of CSI, the show’s 25.2 million fans were relieved to learn that not only had Jorja Fox’s alter ego, Sara Sidle, survived a brutal abduction by the infamous Miniature Killer, but Internet rumors of her departure from the seven-year-old drama were greatly exaggerated. Or so they thought.
No need to follow the clues anymore, because the mystery (finally!) stops here: Fox has quit the No. 1 show on TV. Oct. 15 was her final day on set, and episode 8 of season 8 — set to air in mid-November — will be her last. The decision comes three years after the 39-year-old actress and costar George Eads were fired (and later rehired) during an ugly contract dispute with CBS Paramount. This time, however, it was the daily grind of an intense weekly drama — not money — that drove the decision, claims Fox. In this exclusive interview, Fox explains why she’s leaving the program that netted her a six-figure-a-week salary, and discusses her last days on set, the final episode, and just what the heck she’s going to do next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, Jorja, whose call was this for you to leave CSI — yours or CBS’?
JORJA FOX: It’s my call — and a very, very difficult one, something I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time. It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life. It has nothing to do with my contract, nothing to do with money…. It could be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Only time will tell.
There are so many things I want to do! Some are personal. Some are professional. And I really need to do some of them before I get too old…. It’s a really intense place to work. A lot of the stories [on the show] do end sadly and badly. That’s been one of the things I’ve struggled with — the violence. I’m not saying I’ll never do another violent [project], because I’m sure that I’ll be back in that world someday, but it’s really good for me to take a break from it.
Has doing a procedural drama become boring?
It has nothing to do with being bored. I wish it did! It would make it a lot easier to go.
Were you at the end of your contract?
Originally we all signed on for six years and there was a seventh season added. At the end of the seventh, there would be a window [to negotiate]. If I thought this show was on its last legs, I would have tried harder to stay the course. But I feel like it’s going to be around for a while, so if I don’t want some of those dreams to pass me by, I have to get off the ride.
NEXT PAGE: Of her temporary firing from CSI in 2004, Fox says, ”I know it’s really difficult for people to think an individual would be fired over a letter, but that’s the truth of my situation.”