After years of emotional dramas like “Once and Again,” actress Sela Ward is learning a whole new language as the latest addition to the cast of “CSI: New York.” Taking on a role filled with shoot-outs and technical jargon has proved more daunting than she expected, she admits, but she isn’t taking the challenge lying down.
Before joining “CSI: New York,” you were ready to retire?
I’d swore I’d never go back to another TV show because my kids were at the age where if I did, I was never going to see them and they were going to be in college and gone. But then when I played that mother in “The Stepfather,” I watched that and I went, “I cannot play another one of these unintelligent women again. How could she possibly not read those signs that something is really off about this guy — as in, like, he’s a murderer?” So I really had, all kidding aside, decided that I was retiring. But I really, really missed acting. And when I got this call this summer, I thought, “Well, you know my kids are 16 and 12 now, and they’re really not interested in their mother, so maybe this might be a good time.”
Was it difficult going from dramas like “Once and Again” to a procedural?
I thought it was going to be a walk in the park. I really did. Because clearly I don’t watch television, and I hadn’t watched enough of these shows — until they called me, and then I watched maybe two. I should’ve watched a few more. Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s mostly exposition, where you’re explaining to the audience over and over everything. And I just am not used to that. It was very, very difficult for me for the first five shows.
Do you ever think maybe there’s too much exposition in the show?
I guess it’s just the nature of these kinds of shows. They’re moving so fast, and they’re so technical when they start to get into the science of what’s going on, that they want to make sure the audience remembers. I keep going, “Are they really that stupid? They just can’t be that stupid. I mean, we’ve told them that already now four times. I have to say that again?” It’s just so foreign to me to have to do that.