CAN'T HACK IT
CSI STAR REACTS TO VIRAL CRIME
Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette says that taking the lead role in CSI: Cyber, which details just how easily the average person can fall victim to cybercrimes, has been an eye-opener.
“I knew a little bit about hacking, a tiny bit,” she says.
“But I had no idea (of the scope of cybercrime) and I don’t think most people know.
“We’ve brought these devices into our homes. We’ve incorporated them with their conveniences into every aspect of our lives, but the things they’re capable of are also really terrifying.
“After working on this show I just want my kids to throw everything away, get a pencil and paper. I’m going to get a pager!”
With the 15-year old CSI reportedly heading into its final season next year after more than 300 episodes, the time seems right for a new spin-off. The parent show has already outlasted CSI: Miami with David Caruso and CSI: New York with Gary Sinise.
Now it’s Arquette’s turn to head up a Crime Scene Investigation team and with CSI: Cyber renewed last month for a second season, the signs point to the brand being around for some time to come.
Arquette’s character Avery Ryan, a cyber-psychologist who specialises in analysing and predicting the behaviour of online baddies, was introduced in a backdoor pilot in season 14 of CSI.
The inspiration for the character came from Mary Aiken, the real life director of the Cyber Psychology Research Centre in Dublin, who is a consultant and producer on the show.
Ryan leads the FBI’s Cyber Crime Division of agents and geeks including James Van Der Beek ( Dawson’s Creek) and rapper Bow Wow (aka Shad Moss), who swoop on evildoers in the dark net to the sounds of The Who’s theme tune I Can See for Miles.
Given that nerds tapping on keyboards to catch other geeks in cyberspace is inherently dull visually, the makers have outdone themselves coming up with novel ways to illustrate cyberchases using loads of flashy computer graphics.
The 47-year-old Arquette, who played the title role in supernatural drama series Medium for seven seasons between 2005 and 2011, seems more than a little surprised about her late career resurgence thanks to Boyhood, the project she filmed over 12 years and which won her an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and a swag of other awards.
Arquette took the CSI: Cyber role before her Oscar win meant she could write her own ticket, but says she wouldn’t let elitism over project choice influence her career.
“I’ve seen a lot of people not work because of their ego about how good the material should be, and after a while no one hires them,” she says.
“So I’m grateful for this opportunity and I like the idea of reaching worldwide audiences.”
Arquette says she stays grounded thanks to her background. Growing up poor on a hippie commune in Virginia and being a single mum by the time she was 20, she knows what it’s like to be worried about not being able to afford food or pay bills.
“There’s an illusion in Hollywood, there’s an illusion in fame and I never really took it seriously.”
It was her kids, both huge CSI fans, who insisted she think seriously about CSI: Cyber.
“They were like CSI! You’ve got to read that!”
Arquette’s character is a pretty straight arrow, but Arquette says she personally has a lot more sympathy towards cyber activists of the type of WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden who attempt to expose corruption or unveil government secrets.
“My character, I think, would really have a clear line about: her job is to follow the line of the law and the establishment,” she says.
“That’s when it gets very interesting acting wise because you really have to act that part even if you don’t agree to that part. I do feel like if your nation breaks their own laws … and the constitution … that’s really dangerous and that should be known.”
AFTER WORKING ON THIS SHOW I JUST WANT MY KIDS TO THROW EVERYTHING AWAY, GET A PENCIL AND PAPER
CSI: Cyber, Channel 10, Sunday, 9pm
Patricia Arquette stars in CSI: Cyber on Ten.