In 2005 Eva La Rue left her long reign as Dr. Maria Santos on the daytime drama All My Children along with her stint as a New York City resident, and headed back to her native Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before La Rue was tapped to join the cast of the ensemble crime drama, CSI: Miami later that year. Combining the intrigue of crime scene investigation and forensic techniques, with the magnetic allure of sunny Miami proved an irresistible combination for television viewers around the world.
According to La Rue, the cast was recently notified of their status as the most watched television show on the planet, currently airing in 212 countries and knocking Baywatch from its pedestal of 140 countries tuning in to their show throughout the better part of the 90s.
Eva and I discuss her days on All My Children, New York life versus La La Land, religious philosophy, women’s health and how to preserve a crime scene (she picked up these helpful tips from the resident CSI experts who regularly advise the cast of CSI: Miami). Somehow we manage to pull it all off in a lighthearted tone.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): Where do you shoot CSI: Miami? Is it in Miami, Los Angeles or both?
Eva La Rue: We shoot the show at a studio in Manhattan Beach, California. Then twice a year we go to Miami. We go for the first episode of the year and the last episode of the year. Sometimes they’ll send a B crew down during the middle of the season to shoot more exterior stuff if they need it.
PR.com: Being that you’re originally from Los Angeles, how did you get cast on All My Children ("All My Children" is shot in New York)?
Eva La Rue: They came trolling through Los Angeles and I auditioned in L.A. I originally auditioned for the role of Kendall. And the original Kendall was Sarah Michelle Gellar. I was totally not right for that role and I can’t even believe they brought me in for it. Sarah booked it and two weeks later they called me and they said, “We really loved you from your audition, though you were completely, horribly wrong for the role. But we have this other role that was going to be a recurring role but we’ll make it a contract if you will move out here and take it.” So I moved [to New York] two weeks later. Sarah Michelle Gellar and I, because we were the two new ones, we were roommates. We shared a dressing room.
PR.com: What was it like coming from the east coast and living on the west coast for the very first time?
Eva La Rue: Oh My God! It was life changing! All of my entire family and all of my friends that I’d grown up with… everybody is here in California. So I had no reason to go to the east coast accept to take this job. And the majority of the work is out here in L.A., so I never thought I’d be going to New York. But it ended up being a life changing experience. It was awesome and I’m so glad that I did it. By the time I came home (to Los Angeles) I was good and ready to come home, that’s for sure. I had had it with my last east coast winter (laughs).
PR.com: I hear you. I’m the opposite scenario. I’m from New York, my entire family and friends, everybody is in New York and I lived in Los Angeles for a long time. I can’t take the cold anymore either. I’m ready to pack up again and go back to California.
Eva La Rue: Give me some Palm Trees on Christmas Day!
PR.com: (Laughs) I love a Los Angeles Christmas!
Eva La Rue: And if you think about it, whether you’re Christian, Jewish or Muslim or whatever… Jesus was born under some Palm Trees. I just feel like that’s the true Christmas (laughs).
PR.com: When you were on All My Children you developed close friendships with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Kelly Ripa. Did you get a chance to work with them a lot on the show?
Eva La Rue: Yeah all the time. That was our core group. But after about a year and a half they started separating us as much as they could because the three of us in a scene together was hysterical. None of us could stop laughing. It would take us forever to get through our scenes. They finally came down there and were like, “We’re gonna separate you girls! We can’t work like this!”
PR.com: That sounds like kindergarten, Eva (laughs).
Eva La Rue: I know. We were totally reprimanded for being bad.
PR.com: What’s the difference between acting in daytime television and now acting for night time television, on CSI: Miami, as far as the style of acting and the schedule?
Eva La Rue: It is night and day! In daytime, you’re doing sometimes fifty pages of dialogue a day. It’s a mind numbing amount of studying and memorization that you have to do on a daily basis. Now doing nighttime TV, we shoot maybe, eight pages a day and it’s usually not all your scenes. So it’s lovely. And also, they’ve got bigger budgets, they have computer editing and beautiful lighting. On soaps they don’t have those big budgets. They don’t have time to do fabulous MTV-like editing. They don’t have these big music budgets, and they don’t have time to do all this great lighting and lighting set up. So it looks cheesier, which is too bad, because actors that are in daytime are awesome actors. I wish we could take these big superstars of film and see how they fare for one day with fifty pages of dialogue on a soap opera. I don’t think they’d be able to hack it without pulling their hair out.
PR.com: For your role, playing Natalia on CSI: Miami, what did you have to learn about crime scene investigation?
Eva La Rue: I’m actually learning a lot as I go. I find it so fascinating because while you’re there, the technical advisors are telling you stories about either some similar way that they actually caught somebody or a similar case or case study. As the field of forensics has become more of an exact science, this evidence has been more admissible in court, and for the first time in the last few years, able to get people who have been in [prison] for a long time, out of [prison]. Just learning about fingerprinting and learning about... like one of our guys was telling us that they caught somebody one time from a paper napkin at a bar. They were able to lift his prints off the napkin. Now all this technology has come so far, that they say you cannot walk into a crime scene, and two bodies cannot touch and not leave some [evidence] behind. They will find you. You can’t not leave some part of yourself there. There is no way you can come into contact with another human body and not leave behind a piece of evidence. They even told us that for thousands of years, bloodhounds have been an inexact way of tracking people but now they actually have found that scent has its own DNA. It’s been scientifically proven that every human being, including identical twins, have their own individual scent and it is linked back to DNA. Now scent is no longer an inexact science.
PR.com: Then how come OJ Simpson is not in prison?! I’m totally kidding (laughs).
Eva La Rue: (Laughs) I know, but that’s because they messed up the evidence so bad! Our crime CSI guys talk about those big cases all the time. They talk about the Jean-Benet Ramsey case and how they offered to send all of the L.A. county sheriff’s department and CSIs up there, because they’re such an awesome team, and they were so arrogant. They were like, “Oh no, we got it. We don’t want any help. We can do this ourselves.” It was a community that had never even seen a major crime scene before. They never processed a major crime scene before. They didn’t have the technology up there. They actually did need the help, but they got all cocky. They totally messed up every bit of evidence. They collected it with dirty implements, painted it with their own DNA… thoroughly demolished the majority of the evidence.
PR.com: What are your favorite kinds of scenes to shoot on CSI: Miami?
Eva La Rue: One of the shows we are doing right now has got an awesome ending to it. It’s got such a great twist at the end. And I love the ones that keep you on the edge of your seat, and they keep you turning the page when you read the script. But I also love the interpersonal ones, where you find out a little bit more about the actual foibles and the human characteristics of the CSI team.
PR.com: I read that your show, CSI: Miami, is the number one show right now. Is it the number one show on the air right now?
Eva La Rue: We’re not number one in the United States. We’re number five or six every week. But we are the number one show in the world. And we just found out two weeks ago that we’re the number one show in the world, ever!
PR.com: Is that the entire CSI franchise, or CSI: Miami?
Eva La Rue: No, just CSI: Miami. We’re in two hundred and twelve countries, and we’re number one in the majority of the countries. We’re the most watched TV show, ever, in the world.
PR.com: And you’re a part of the Bahai faith. Is that your religion?
Eva La Rue: Yeah. We believe that everybody’s prophets came to teach basically the same word of God. We believe that there is one God, one people, one world and that everybody’s prophet is right and it’s the people that have sort of dogmatized [it] and religion has taken on a totally different meaning. They’re all at war with each other, but it’s the same truthful message. We basically believe that the reason there were different prophets in different parts of the world is because there were no telephones or newspapers. The only way to get your word out would be through human contact, so God put different prophets in different parts of the world so that everybody could have the word of God and that it’s the same spiritual truth.
PR.com: Were you born into the Bahai religion, or was it something that you discovered on your own?
Eva La Rue: It was something that, when I was a teenager, my mom discovered. You’re obviously born into a Bahai family if your parents are both Bahai, but you can’t become a Bahai until you’re fifteen. They don’t want you to be one just because you’re born one. They want you to make a personal, confident decision. You’re actually encouraged as a teenager to go and study all the religions and make a choice for yourself, and not just be a blind follower… of anything.
PR.com: With many of the people I’ve interviewed, I have spoken about various religions with them, whether because religion was a part of their public persona or just because it happened to come up in the conversation, and that makes more sense then just about anything I’ve ever heard as far as religion goes (laughs). That’s called using your brain.
Eva La Rue: (Laughs) It’s an educated choice. Somebody else choosing your religion for you just because you were born into it doesn’t make sense.
PR.com: I also want to talk to you about some of your charity work…
Eva La Rue: I’m the spokesperson for The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, because my grandmother and my great-grandmother both died from Ovarian Cancer. I’m actually going out this weekend to their big conference in Texas, The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Conference. We’re going to tour one of the really big research facilities out there. So I’m kind of psyched about that because I haven’t been out there.
PR.com: I’m sure since it runs in your family, you get checked…
Eva La Rue: Yeah, but the scary thing about Ovarian Cancer is that there’s no easy test to take. There are blood tests that can be markers for it, but mostly you have to just be aware of your body. When you know that you have pain or swelling in your abdomen and its persistent, where you’ve had it for more then a week or two, don’t just blow it off. You have to go get checked.
PR.com: What’s been your experience as an actress of Puerto Rican descent? Has it affected the roles you get, and do you prefer to play Latino characters or characters where the ethnicity is unspecified?
Eva La Rue: I actually like playing both, but the thing that I like the most is that the Latin roles that I have played have been really great characters. Like my role in All My Children, I was a brain surgeon and my role here on CSI: Miami, my character is a Latino character [who’s] a scientist. I’m a DNA specialist. So, I love that I’m not, and I never have had to play the hooker, the maid, the nanny or the illegal alien. You know what I mean? I’ve never had to play any of those roles. When I’ve had Latino roles, it’s always been a really great character.
PR.com: Any film roles coming up?
Eva La Rue: I just did a movie called Lakeview Terrace with Samuel Jackson. I think it’s going to be out next summer. I play this internal affairs agent that brings him down because he’s kind of a dirty cop.
PR.com: What was it like working with Sam Jackson?
Eva La Rue: It was awesome and I am such a fan of his. When I got on the set, he was like, “Oh My God, I love CSI: Miami! I watch it every week!” And I was like, “You’re kidding me!” (Laughs)
Eva La Rue plays Natalia Boa Vista on “CSI: Miami,” which airs Monday nights at 10PM ET/PT on CBS in the United States and can be seen in syndication in 212 countries. Check local listings.