Interview: Gary Dourdan Returns to the Small Screen
By Gil Robertson Special to

No longer donning a head full of locks, "A Different World's" sexiest man, is back on the small screen solving crime in the CBS show "C.S.I."

After a dry spell, actor Gary Dourdan appears to have resumed his upward climb in Hollywood. Lots of folks remember his work on the small screen (“A Different World” and “Laurel Avenue”) and the big screen (“Alien Resurrection” and “Trois”). But after that quick start, he had a quiet spell where he concentrated on developing his spiritual side, not acting, he says. During that time, he cut off his trademark dreadlocks and, eventually, decided to get back into the acting game in a big way.

Well, he's making a splash. The 6-foot-2 Philadelphia native has a recurring role on the popular Showtime series “Soul Food.” And he has a starring role in the new CBS drama “CSI,” playing forensic investigator Warwick Brown. recently caught up with the actor to talk science fiction and learn about his rising career.

Tell us about your role on "C.S.I."
My character is something of a maverick on the show. The brother is good at what he does, but he also likes to do things his own way, which gets him in trouble a lot.

Was it difficult for you to get the role?
Oh man, every actor in Black Hollywood was after this part. On the day of my audition, actors such as Morris Chestnut, Alan Payne, Kadeem Hardison, were also reading for the role, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that I got it.

Tell us about some of the sci-fi elements incorporated into the show.
Well we’re not in flying cars yet, but sometimes it gets pretty close. Some of the technology being used on this show will blow your mind. The show is shot using some sort of macro camera lenses, which at times gives it a psychedelic element. Also, the research equipment that we’re using is pretty state-of-the-art.

You were one of the first actors in Hollywood to sport dreads, was that a good career move?
Growing those locks was both a blessing and a curse. Physically, wearing them gave me an edge that definitely ingratiated me with the ladies, but in Hollywood, casting people couldn’t see past them. I kept getting cast as drug dealers, pimp daddies and the like which was not the vision I had for my career. When I finally cut my locks, I was going through a spiritual change and didn’t want to be as easily recognizable. I tried to take on a new personality so that I could get back on my feet-- get back into acting.

Besides CSI, what else can we expect from you?
I’ve been real busy with several projects that should be released some time soon. The first is “The Weekend,” which is a melodrama that I star in with Brooke Shields and Gena Rowlands. I also recently shot a great suspense drama called “The Imposter” with Mekhi Phifer, Gary Sinise and Vincent D'Onofrio. And I’m in a basketball comedy with Kelsey Grammer called “New Jersey Turnpike”. After I finish the show for this season, I’m going to work on a pet project of mine called “Slipping in the Darkness,” which is about a counselor who ends up falling into the very trap that he’s trying to get others to avoid.

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