By: Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]
I recently had the time to talk with CSI: Miami’s Natalia Boa Vista, aka Eva La Rue, about what’s coming up for the last few episodes of this season, what TV show makes her cry week after week, and her new place as a member of my favorite band!
Just want to start by saying that I started watching CSI: MIAMI because you joined the cast. I was such a fan of you on ALL MY CHILDREN.
Oh thank you! That’s great! As much as I miss all my friends from ALL MY CHILDREN, and I do, I call over there and catch up with everyone over there all the time. This job is so much easier than ALL MY CHILDREN.
I read somewhere that on AMC you spent a day shooting one hour of TV, and now you get a full week to shoot the hour.
We would have sometimes 50 pages a day on the soap. 50 pages a day would be a normal day on he soap so by the time you get home, you start studying again for the next day. You‘re so brain-dead that by the end of the week you can barely remember your own name. While you’re doing it you don’t realize how hard it is because it’s your day to day routine, but once you’ve stopped doing it, you think to yourself, how did I ever do this for as many years as I did? Oh my god, the amount of constant pressure and stress that you feel is mind numbing. It really is tough. It’s also really rewarding. It’s like a big family over there at the soap.
Why, originally, did you want to move to CSI: MIAMI? How did this character come to be?
Totally, absolutely, unexpected and out of the blue. I had just come off a really horrifying pilot season. I hadn’t left the soap yet, I only had like three more days. I had gone through pilot season trying to find a job, couldn’t get a job, had gotten totally dragged through the process where you put on hold and you have to audition again, and then again, and it was horrifying. Left the show, had no job offers or opportunities and was moving out here to California, which is where I’m from, so I was moving home, which was the only good part, and though I saved a lot of money from the show, you wonder how much that’s going to get you before you’re broke again, and I thought about hosting gigs, because I’ve always done it through the years, and sort of stay afloat that way. I was out in the Hamptons with Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark and the kids and Kaya, and they were all playing in the Hamptons. I was supposed to get back into NYC to audition for CSI MIAMI, and I didn’t end up getting back in time because Kaya and Lola were playing in the little pond part, not quite the ocean, but it’s like a pond that’s right off the ocean in the Hamptons. Kaya had stepped off an underwater ledge and was literally drowning like 50 yards away from us. Lola was standing on the ledge, and standing knee deep in the water. We couldn’t figure out, we were like, maybe Kaya’s swimming. We stood there and watched her, for the longest time, not realizing that she’s drowning.
Then we both realized at the same time, Kelly and I are running stripping through the water. Kelly got to her before I did and pulled her out of the water, so I didn’t end up going to the audition. I was like, forget it, I’m not going, I’m too traumatized, like oh my god, my kid almost died while I sat there and watched her. So I didn’t go. Then I figured, okay that’s dead. The next week, they hadn’t found anyone, and I had to be in California. They were having the producer callbacks. This is a long winded story, but they had the producer callbacks. I had to be back in NY again to finish up my final shooting day with Modern Girls’ Guide to Life. I was still under contract to them, and I had to shoot this final episode, so I missed the audition again. And there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t switch around, because we had this camera crew ready, and I couldn’t screw them out of their last day of shooting, so I missed it again, and I though, you know what, this is just not meant to be. Well they didn’t find anybody that day. They called me the next day and said, go put yourself on tape in NYC. This role starts next week. I ran into the city on Friday, had the worst audition ever in my whole life. I thought literally from that audition that I should quit the business. There was all this technical scientific jargon. I had no time to really prep the material. So I had five passes that went horrifyingly.
Thank god the casting director erased every one. On the fifth time, I finally got, and I walked out thinking “well that was a big waste of time for everybody”. I sent it on Friday, they viewed it on Monday, and they cast me on Tuesday. It was one of those things. I really thought it wasn’t going to happen and it happened completely by accident, so thank god for me [laughs].
How have you prepared, or what do you have to do to get the technical jargon?
The nice thing is that we don’t really have to prep too much because we have all of our technical advisors, like Mike Scott – he was the head of the homicide department with the LA county sheriffs for 18 years and he’s our technical advisor and he literally walks us through every single procedure, why it happens, why we do it the way we do it, the stories behind it. He’s just this absolute veritable encyclopedia of stories and occurrences and situations, so we literally learn on the job. I find it endlessly fascinating.
That was my next question actually – is this something you would normally be interested in it, or is it just the role?
You know what, I never thought it would be interesting. It is fascinating. I was never the type of kid that was good at math or science at school. This is the application of science, and that makes it fascinating and I get it. Like if it’s on paper, I don’t get it. But if it’s the application of it, then it suddenly makes sense. Kind of like a logical summary of events. Then you’re also fascinated by how it turns out. The puzzle pieces all being put together. I can see how it could be a really fascinating job. The reality of is that I don’t think I could do it because it’s too much dead people.
I was going to say – all the murder, all the death – is the set lighter to counteract this dark side of “Miami”?
We don’t really see the dark side, for us it’s just a bunch of words, and we can all go home. And the dead people that are around us are walking around. I think I can speak for everybody when I say that there is definitely not a somber feeling on the set, ever. It’s a very light, funny, happy group of people. It always is, always very jovial on set. Nobody really absorbs any of that.
Without giving too much away, what’s coming up for the last few episodes?
The season finale is awesome. It’s going to be an incredible cliffhanger. It’s going to start the next season. All I’ll say is that somebody gets killed, somebody else gets shot and you’re not sure if they’re going to make it. And then one of our other characters leaves, because Khandi leaves. We have a lot going on.
I have a question about the episode about your sister’s story – did you approach the producers about that, or is it something that producers came to you and asked if it was okay with you do write it? [It was revealed in 2006 that Eva’s sister Nika was one of the women photographed by convicted serial killer William Richard Bradford for his collection. She was number 3 of 54 pictures on a poster that the LAPD circulated. The writers of CSI: MIAMI wrote an episode along the similar storyline.]
That is what happened. They came and they called me one day at home and said, hey Eva, we read about this in People Magazine, which was not something that we even wanted to be in People Magazine. They wrote it as an addendum to a story that they had already written about the case and I guess what happened was, which I thought was odd, was that I had called the LA county sheriffs department because when I saw my sisters name, it said called in any information. I called LA County Sheriffs department and I said my sister is one of the pictures on the website, and she’s fine, thank god, and all is well. They took all of my information, they took all of my sister’s information and they ended up doing an interview with her.
People Magazine had called to get as much information through them; LA County Sheriff’s department told them that my sister was part of the story. It was actually LA County Sheriffs that called People Magazine and they ended up doing a story. And we were all sort of reeling from it. My sister was really tripped out about it. I hadn’t told anybody at work, so it ended up in People Magazine and they called me at home, and they said, hey would you be willing to do this story if we were to write it. I said, you know what, I don’t think so. And I said I think my sister is going to be really freaked out if I ask her about it. And they said, ok, why don’t you ask her, and get back to us. So I called Nika, and said this is what they want to do, and she said, you know what, I just don’t think I’d be comfortable. It’s publicity for publicity’s sake, and it’s gross. There are people who really got killed, and they by the grace of God, go I. I said, I agree, I’ll call them back and gracefully decline. At the same time thinking, oh my god, I hope they don’t get mad at me and Natalia suddenly gets killed [laughs]. So I said she’s gracefully declining; she thinks it would be kind of gross to get publicity for publicity’s sake. And they called me back the next day and said, well how about we do this, how about if we use that publicity in the positive way, and we run a PSA at the end of the episode, so that the 20 million viewers that we have for the show, we’ll show all the pictures of the girls, put up a phone number, and maybe we can get some information into the sheriffs department. I called Nika back, and I said what do you think and she said that would be good. She said if there’s good that comes out of it, we’re helping in some way, yes. If we’re doing it just to do it, then no.
Right, if it’s a story just for story’s sake, and nothing good or helpful comes out of it, it’s not worth it.
Yeah, if it doesn’t help, or if we’re not helping, or being thankful that we’re alive, then it’s not worth it. And that’s how the story came about. It was that conversation and it was 10 days later, we were shooting the episode. It all went really quickly.
Changing gears a bit, what other shows do you watch when you get some downtime?
I don’t watch a lot of TV. I am madly in love, I’m a big sap, I’m madly in love with Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I cry every week.
I cry at previews for the upcoming episodes, so I’m right there with you!
Oh my god, I love it. It’s crazy, I just absolutely love it. So I love that. We watch a lot for background sound, The History Channel. Oh my god, I love Secrets of the Bible. Do you ever watch that?
I haven’t ever seen it.
It’s great, and if you really think about it, it’s not like a religious show or anything. It’s the historical, factual part of the stories of the bible, so they actually find the historical fact in the biblical stories. So they go back to ancient Egypt and they go back to ancient Jerusalem, ancient Mesopotamia. Okay, what do we know of Sodom and Gomorrah? Ok, getting back to this particular year, there was a huge volcanic eruption, so they go back and try t figure out what the reality of what happened, instead of the magical myth of the biblical story. So we watch a lot of the The Discovery Channel and The History Channel. I don’t think I retain anything from history, but I love watching these shows, because I learn more than I ever did back in junior high or high school.
I know that you’re incredibly involved with a number of charities. What are you currently with?
The thing I am currently work with, for the last couple of years, has been the National Ovarian Cancer Association, because my grandmother and my great grandmother both died of ovarian cancer. So I have been a spokesperson for them for the last two years, and they’re fantastic. Right now, I’m working with a friend; I think it’s going to be out in six weeks. MasterCard is starting to have a new card. It’s not a credit card, it’s a debit card, and you can use it anywhere you can use MasterCard. It’s mostly for people who either don’t have a back account, or their credit has been ruined and they can’t get a credit card. But every body needs plastic these days, to get a hotel room, to rent a rental car, to do anything on line. You have to have a credit or debit card, you can’t just do it with cash. So it’s a debit card, you put whatever amount of money on the card. It’s like a virtual bank account, but on a credit card. You can have your employer pay you on the card. So that becomes your bank account but also your debit card. We have been working on it for the past week, and it’s going to be called The Pink Card, and proceeds from the card go to women’s reproductive cancer. So anytime people use the card, or are issued a card, anybody can get one, there’s no credit attached to it. Nothing runs to your credit, there’s no limit. You’re the one who sets the limit on it. If you have family in another country and instead of sending money Western Union, you transfer however much money you want to your family in another country. Or if your kid is going to school over seas, you can transfer money, or have a companion card or whatever. But now, proceeds from the card go directly to the women’s reproductive cancer. And it’s pink. It’s a shimmery pink card. On the card it says “I have a platinum card, but I’d rather use pink.”
Oh I like that catchphrase.
We’re excited about it. It’s going to help make some money for women’s cancer.
Oh yeah, any way to get the word out, because it’s such a big problem, it’s a good way to go.
The majority now, the American Cancer Society, a lot of the money goes to heart disease, it goes to a lot of things, but only now in the last five years has breast cancer become a number one issue, and the ones that are trailing behind are ovarian cancer and uterine cancer and they’re all linked. Because unfortunately, if you have breast cancer you have twice as much risk of getting ovarian cancer or uterine cancer. If you have ovarian cancer, your chances of getting breast caner are doubled.
I listened to your CD, I had no idea you were a singer. I thought it was fabulous!
I don’t get a chance to sing very often. An opportunity just came up. Did you ever hear of Band from TV? It’s Teri Hatcher, Hugh Laurie, James Denton, and all these people. They just asked me to be a part of their group. I’m supposed to go next week for my first rehearsal with them.
I love them. That’s such a random gang of people, and I think they’re great.
It’s great. It’s actors who sing, not singers who act. No one promotes themselves as rock stars. I think it’s going to be a really fun thing. I’m excited about going off to be with them, too.
Any other movies or TV? I read about the Samuel L Jackson movie that you shot. When does that come out?
I think it’s coming out this summer. I still haven’t heard anything yet. I’ll call my manager and find out. It’s called Lakeview Terrace.
How was that, working with him?
Oh my god, he’s a huge CSI: MIAMI fan. So I get on set, and I’m like it’s Samuel L. Jackson and he’s like Oh my god, I love your show, I watch every episode.
Anything else you want add before I let you go?
Just thanks for watching, we’re going to make it worth your while!
We’ll hold you to that!