One's in the slammer, the other is walking the streets. But which is the real serial killer? Franklin & Bash star Mark-Paul Gosselaar is guesting in a season-long arc on CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that has him playing Death Row inmate Jared Briscoe — aka the Gig Harbor Killer — and his twin brother, real-estate magnate Paul Winthrop, a pillar of the community who might be a sociopath and the true culprit. In the show's Nov. 16 episode (10/9c), the Briscoe-Winthrop case proves so daunting that even Patricia Arquette's character, Avery Ryan, from the upcoming spinoff CSI: Cyber, will show up to offer advice. (Check out the exclusive clip below!). What's Gosselaar's take on all this? TV Guide Magazine spoke with the actor about his unconventional showcase.
TV Guide Magazine: You've been on the right side of the law so many times in your career — from NYPD Blue to Raising the Bar to Franklin & Bash. Is it safe to say that being bad is better?
Gosselaar: Oddly, yes. Playing a really terrible character — much less two — is a weird amount of fun. It's great to just throw it out there. There's certainly no relatability on my end. You read about these kinds of people in the news, but you don't come across them in life. To play them is one thing, to understand them is another.
TV Guide Magazine: You don't feel any need to humanize them, even a little bit, to help us see why they're so screwed up?
Gosselaar: I usually try to find something in a villain character that makes him human, but not with these two guys. I don't even try. Jared and Paul feel a bit disposable in the sense that they're only there to enhance the big product, the CSI franchise. There's nothing about them that the audience should like. I'd prefer they be hated — and I'm sure the writers and producers would prefer that, too. It makes for a much better relationship between the twins and Ted Danson's character [night-shift boss D.B. Russell]. I feel no need to give the audience even a little glimmer that makes them think, "Gee, I hope Gosselaar stays around." This is all about D.B. seeking justice.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you know the outcome to this arc or are they keeping it a secret from you?
Gosselaar: Right now, it's more like which one of the twins is more guilty? That's what we're going with. I don't know who committed the crimes. I think I know who is behind it...but I don't have all the information yet.
TV Guide Magazine: When playing a serial killer — or possibly two — can you leave it all behind on the set? Or does some of their stink come home with you?
Gosselaar: I do come home a little more tired. We just shot my third episode [airing in early 2015] where I'm playing scenes opposite myself, so that was fun though draining. But I never take my characters home. What I do take home from CSI is Jared Briscoe's neck tattoos. My kids think they're totally cool!