You wanted answers about Grissom and Sara's relationship, and we've got 'em. For the occasion of CSI's Season 7 premiere (tonight at 9 pm/ET), TV Guide brought your burning questions, collected at TVGuide.com, to series stars William Petersen and Jorja Fox. In addition to what follows, look for many more Q's and A's in the new TV Guide magazine.
Question: Are you surprised that a show that is not known for its romantic plots is now getting such a huge reaction for one scene at the end of one episode?
Fox: Very surprised. It's a huge compliment to the show. There's this sense that the folks who have been watching loyally for so long are still really invested in what's happening to the characters. I know there are positive and negative responses, but it's nice to be causing a strong, emotional response.
Petersen: We held back on any of that kind of stuff for six years for a reason. If you were going to do something like this a couple of years ago, where would we be now? Probably divorced.
Question: Does the fans' response to this new relationship ever shock you?
Petersen: We knew there was a shock value to it because of the little bits and moments that Sara and Grissom have had over the years. So to see them together that way would have an impact in terms of, "Whoa, there they are!" We hoped it would be just "peeking through the keyhole," and I think it did work that way. Who really knows what was going on there? They were obviously comfortable and intimate with each other.
Question: How long have Grissom and Sara been seeing each other?
Petersen: We may mention that someday. Jorja and I have our feelings about it.
Question: We know Mr. Petersen will be away for a couple of weeks this season [performing in a play in Providence, Rhode Island]. Do you think Sara will be true to Grissom while he's away?
Petersen: I would like to think she would. It's only for a couple of weeks. We're still working on how that's going to unfold.
Fox: I don't know if they even have a monogamous relationship. I'm not sure we've defined that. It's possible Sara would be true to him, but I wouldn't say it's definite.
Question: How will Grissom's absence be explained?
Petersen: I think we know why he's going and where he's going, to some degree. But it's a little premature for me to say.
Question: Knowing that eventually the administration will find out about the relationship, what consequences do you think will be in store for them career-wise? And if they were told to choose between their relationship and their jobs, what do you think they would do?
Petersen: I don't know that Grissom has ever been in love, or that he's in love now, so I wouldn't know how to answer that question.
Fox: Sara, by virtue of being a realist, is also very much a romantic. So I think if she really was in love with someone, and it came down to a choice between work and love, I think she'd go in the direction of love.
Question: If you do not already know, which character do you think will be the first to discover Grissom and Sara's hidden romance?
Fox: I don't really know how to answer that one.
Petersen: People call this show a procedural, but it's a procedural that has characters the audience has come to know. As actors, there's a fine line to balance between the show you're doing and what you might like to do with your character. Go too far and it becomes a soap opera, and that's something we won't let happen. That's why the scene at the end of last season was so subtle. It was one camera move, a little conversation. There were people who wanted us to be in bed talking but that was not something we wanted to do. That's not Grissom and Sidle. I don't think they have any idea where their relationship is going. They haven't been able to go to a restaurant together, they can't go out and have a date, because everyone in the place would know us.... The show is about solving puzzles, to solve things and figure out things. And that's what this is: a puzzle to us and to the audience.
Fox: But part of the fun of a puzzle is at least thinking that at some point you'll figure something out. The show does that well.
Petersen: There were all kinds of [hints] over the years people saw they were flirting but that was just between Jorja and I. There were never other people in the scene getting these little tidbits, but the audience got them and was confused by them. Do they like each other? Do they not like each other? Are they doing it, are they not doing it? There was a time, years ago, where they said, "We've flirted around with Grissom and Sara, but it's time for us to stop. This will be a moment, a big moment, and it'll be over." We said, "That's foolish. We have great chemistry together. We enjoy the banter they have. We enjoy the subtext of all that. Why end it just because you don't know where it's going to go? Allow us to play whatever it may be, and who knows?" So now we've ended up with this. Had we done what they talked about, we wouldn't be where we are now. If you give it all away, you can't go anywhere from there. It's like Lost you have a big scene one week, and you're dead the next.
Question: Jorja, Sara's character used to lean on Nick in the earlier seasons. What kind of relationship would you like to see for them in the upcoming season?
Fox: I hope that George [Eads] and I get to work together a lot this year. We have a great familiarity and a great sense of humor when we're together.
Petersen: Sometimes we go through many episodes without working with some of the guys. It's just the way the story lines evolve. [In] the beginning, we were all together on everything, but now they can do whole stories with just one or two of us.
Question: The chemistry between the entire group, in my opinion, seems to be changing. I've noticed the strong bond that Warrick and Nick had is dwindling. Why do you think that's happening?
Petersen: There is less of a camaraderie than there was.
Fox: You think so?
Petersen: Part of it is because of the growth of the characters. In the beginning, everyone was struggling to do the job right. Now they've all grown and become very good at it, and there's less opportunity for the chemistry to play. It's like the first few days on a championship baseball team [where] they all have fun in the locker room, they all have fun in the bars. It's a very serious tone on the show, too. The tone has changed over time.
Fox: I don't know if I agree. [The episode] "Grave Danger" brought everyone back together.
Petersen: I'm not saying anything about the chemistry it's still there there's just not as much opportunity to play it. We used to always go into the DNA lab and have fun with Greg. Well, Greg isn't in the lab anymore; he's out in the field, going through all kinds of trials, so he isn't the same fun, happy-go-lucky Greg. George has had a terrible trauma so he's no longer punching Warrick in the shoulder, going, "Hey, I bet I can do this better than you can." They're not kids anymore. It's like life in that way.
Question: What has been your favorite episode to film?
Petersen: Certainly the Quentin Tarantino episode ["Grave Danger"] was great. That was a full two hours, a big job for everybody.
Fox: I really liked "A Bullet Runs Through It," Parts 1 and 2. That was incredibly good.
Petersen: The big ones create more memories for us. Sometimes we'll work on a show for eight or nine days, so to spend three weeks on the same story line is great for us. You feel like you were there because it was bigger.
Fox: We have a two-parter coming at the start of the [new] season that feels like we have been shooting for three months.
Question: Jorja, in his TV Guide interview, Eric Szmanda said that Greg hasn't give up on Sara yet. What do you think Sara's reaction will be once she learns about the deep feelings Greg has for her?
Fox: That question intrigues me because Eric "broke up with me" in a magazine last summer. We were working a little tension on the show between Greg and Sara, when I read in a magazine that Eric was done with all that. I called him and said, "If you want to break up with me, at least do it in person." It's so great to have your private relationships play out in the press.
Petersen: Isn't that great? Now our characters are in the National Enquirer.
Question: Mr. Petersen, why did you shave off your beard? And will it make a reappearance?
Petersen: There was a summer heat wave, plus my wife was tired of it. When we started on CSI, we went out to investigate a murder in the desert and it was daytime. It was hot. George and I put some baseball caps on and we got calls from the network saying no hats. And no sunglasses. We said, "Well, then we're going to go home. It's hot out here. And we're in Vegas." That was a huge issue. At the time, we were told shows don't work if [the characters wear] sunglasses and hats.
Question: Which CSI character, other than your own, is your favorite?
Petersen: How can I answer that? For me, they are all different and great. That's one of the great things about the show.
Question: This has been the subject of a lot of debate: Mr. Petersen, what were you thinking when you chose to wear that aloha shirt in the Season 6 finale? Did the thought of being shirtless in the scene ever cross your mind?
Petersen: Regarding being shirtless, it crossed other people's minds, but not mine. And that aloha shirt has a huge history. I got it in the Philippines 10 years ago off a guy's back, when I traded him shirts in the jungle. For Grissom, it was something very different this is how he lets his hair down when he's alone or with someone he trusts.
Fox: I just say, "Follow the clues." Sure, Sara loves Grissom in the buff, but I don't think that was what the scene was about. One of my favorite things about that scene was Grissom talking about the nearness of death. You've got this group of people who live in the night and greet death. So if there's this little ray of sunlight in their world, maybe they go home and have some tenderness of their own happening. That's a very powerful and cool thing.
Question: For six seasons, viewers were led to believe that Brass and Grissom were friends, close enough that Brass gave Grissom power of attorney. Yet, when Greg asked Grissom about their friendship, Grissom replied that he and Brass weren't close. Isn't this contradictory?
Petersen: Brass and Grissom's relationship has a lot more to do with the maturity of the men than hanging out, sharing stories and trading jokes. I think they share, honestly, their feelings for each other. They're there for each other. That's professional almost, which a lot of men's relationships are.
Question: In Season 6 and the episode "Rashomama," Undersheriff McKeen promised Grissom there would be repercussions after all the evidence was stolen. Will Grissom face disciplinary actions in the upcoming season?
Petersen: Grissom has never cared one way or the other for the undersheriff, so he's not going to worry about what McKeen does.
Question: If Grissom is supposed to be having a long-term affair with Sara, why was Lady Heather brought back for Season 6?
Petersen: People come in and out of your lives whether they know you're having an affair or not. The last time she was on the show, she was in trouble. Besides, she doesn't like Grissom anymore, anyway. I don't think Grissom understood what the Lady Heather thing was [about].
Question: Jorja, do you think Sara will ever meet Lady Heather? If so, how would Sara react to her and Grissom's past?
Fox: It would be a fun scene to get to do. Sara sat out a lot of the Lady Heather stuff.
Petersen: We had this scene where we talked about the guy with the corset damage. Sara asks Grissom where he got his information and he just said, "I have my sources." To those who caught that, they'll think he must have learned what he knew from Lady Heather. He doesn't talk to Sara about Lady Heather or his infatuation any more than any guy would discuss his infatuation with another woman while talking to his woman.
Fox: Grissom is good at keeping secrets.
Question: If CSI is allowed to go for six more years, what would you like, or not like, to see happen?
Petersen: How we'd raise our 5-year-old baby. [Fox laughs] Less death, I guess. More robberies, fewer murders.
Fox: I'm determined that when I see gray hair on Eric Szmanda's head, I'm leaving. I'm done.
Petersen: I don't think we can even afford to think like that. When we started, we were on Friday nights at 9 o'clock and were just hoping we'd see Christmas. We get the scripts two days before we shoot them, so it's pretty hard to think what we'd like to do next year.
Fox: I will say thanks to the [question] writer for saying that there will be six more years for us.
Petersen: When you're first building something, you're fearless because every moment is desperate. Every moment could be your last. When you achieve success over time, you can't live like that anymore, and you don't have to. But then you have to figure out how to stay sharp, and that becomes a very tricky dance.
Fox: Every year that we're lucky enough to be on, the statistics make it seem more likely that it'll be our last. But I think we're bringing our game face this year.
Look for many more additional Petersen-Fox Q's and A's in the new TV Guide magazine.