Although Claudia's sudden death on 24 this season ultimately freed up actress Vanessa Ferlito to take a plum gig opposite Gary Sinise on CSI: New York, the Italian beauty is still haunted by what coulda been between her and Kiefer Sutherland's Jack. "It depresses me because we were so in love," she laments. "We were supposed to end up together. It's really messed up." So, why did producers kill off Jack's Mexican mistress? And what's the scoop on Ferlito's new CSI gig? Read on...
TV Guide Online: How did you find out that you got the CSI: New York job?
Vanessa Ferlito: [Exec producer] Anthony Zuiker called me.
TVGO: Did you have to audition?
Ferlito: No. It's amazing. I read for him once, but not even for the role I got. It was for a different role, an older CSI named Stella.
TVGO: What role did you get?
Ferlito: Her name is Abigail Martin, but I don't know if they're gonna change that. She's one of four or five CSIs.
TVGO: Are you excited about working with Gary Sinise?
Ferlito: Oh, God. That's what inspires me — working with people like that. He's amazing.
TVGO: You live in New York City, right?
Ferlito: Yes. New York's my home. Born and raised. I'm a New Yorker to the bone.
TVGO: But CSI: New York is going to tape in Los Angeles...
Ferlito: It's gonna be hard, I'll be honest with you. There's nothing like New York. When I started in this business, my agents said, "At some point you might have to move to L.A." And I looked at them and I said, "Listen to me: If I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it in New York." And I never left.
TVGO: Talk about bitter irony: The project that ultimately forced you to leave New York actually had "New York" in its title!
Ferlito: Yeah, it's kinda weird. I'm going to be totally honest: It is probably going to be the hardest time of my life, up until this point, leaving my home and my family.
TVGO: You popped up on The Sopranos this season as Adriana's friend. Weren't you on the first season?
Ferlito: That was my first job ever four years ago. They brought me back [this season] for one episode. It was written as a different character, but they knew I was on the show before so they just made it the same again.
TVGO: Adriana ratted you out to the FBI in the last episode. We won't see you go to jail?
Ferlito: No, you don't see me go to jail.
TVGO: Switching gears, I was really bummed you got killed off 24.
Ferlito: I was supposed to be on the show as a regular, but I was [not given] a permanent contract. It was more like a recurring contract, where, if I got a movie, I had to let them know three weeks in advance. So, I only shot two or three episodes and I then got a movie [Cheer Up with Tommy Lee Jones].
TVGO: So, the original plan was not for Claudia to die?
Ferlito: No. I was pretty upset about that.... I really didn't want to leave but it was a big opportunity to play opposite Tommy Lee Jones.
TVGO: What would have happened to Claudia and Jack if you had stayed?
Ferlito: We would have went to the States and Kiefer and I would have ended up together. It's sad. It's really messed up.
TVGO: Her death did seem rather abrupt...
Ferlito: It didn't make sense.
TVGO: It's all your fault.
Ferlito: It is my fault. I was thinking of calling [the producers] and saying, "Why don't you just pretend that I wasn't dead and Hector hid me somewhere." But now it's too late. I was sick. When I saw my last episode I wanted to cry — I almost did. It really depresses me because we were so in love.
TVGO: Cheer Up better be good.
Ferlito: It better be good, you're right — that's all I have to say.
TVGO: I'm serious.
Ferlito: No, you're right.