CSI: Miami starts its ninth season tonight: “The CSI’s must catch a madman causing havoc all over Miami and the team has to mourn one of their own.”
I spoke with actress Boti Bliss who has played lab tech Maxine Valera on the program since 2003. Before hitting CSI: Miami, though, I started with a disturbing movie I’d just watched.
AFC: How did you get involved with the movie Ted Bundy?
Boti: Kind of like most things. I auditioned for it and the director Matthew Bright and we really hit it off. He cast me as Bundy’s girlfriend.
AFC: The role of Lee is based on a real person.
Boti: Yes and I feel really, really bad. Of course that is not her real name. It was a while ago but she had actually written a book about her experience because a lot of people didn’t believe she could be dating Bundy and have no idea he was a serial killer. But you know, back then it wasn’t a common thing to have serial killers. He was like one of the first famous ones. So you know it was kind of unheard of a little bit, and in the ‘60s and ‘70s people were a little bit more naive and trusting and got in people’s cars without thinking about it. So yeah, she wrote this book kind of about her experiences. It helped to read that. Then I kind of made it into my own version.
AFC: So you did read and do research.
Boti: Definitely. And actually I grew up knowing about Bundy because I grew up in Aspen and that is one of the places he kept escaping from. I remember one of the times he had escaped the Pitkin County Jail, my stepfather sat outside with a shotgun because everyone knew Bundy had escaped and so everybody was on alert.
AFC: I would say the movie definitely has made me more cautious and paranoid.
Boti: Yeah, Yeah well now we know more about it and we teach our children not to get into cars with strangers but back then it was you know people didn’t really use to that mentality yet
AFC: Ted Bundy is a hard movie to watch. You know it should be since the man is murdering all these girls. Was it hard to make?
Boti: Yeah. Michael Riley Burke who played Bundy did a really good job. He does look like him too, so it does make it hard and there are aspects of it, of course, that are just terrifying. You know when you are doing a movie like that you try to as much as you can keep it upbeat when you are not working on the scene, so you cannot totally get disgusted and lost in it and also from my point of view I was ignorant to it all what was kind of going on. My character was unaware of all the murders that were being committed by him, so I kind of tried to keep myself out of it and kind of keep an innocent point of view from it. The hard scenes for me were the sex scenes just because there’s like sexual deviance going on and there was stuff that he want her to do and that was really disturbing.
AFC: I obviously noticed the one where you all were in bed and he had your feet tied to the bed post and it just looked grueling. Did that take a long time to get that shot?
Boti: No, in fact we worked really fast because we were really just concentrating on getting it over with so I wasn’t holding that yoga position for too long.
AFC: That’s good. It didn’t look very comfortable.
Boti: No, just get it over with as fast as possible.
AFC: So you are working on the independent film Loulou. Can you talk to us a little bit about the movie?
Boti: It’s about Loulou, a ghost from the 1920s. She was a flapper and she was a dancer, had kind of a free lifestyle, then she ended up marrying a man who wanted to kind of keep her in the house and control her environment a little bit more and so she committed suicide. It cuts to today. Present day and she has been kind of condemned to live in this house and has her daily routine. She has kind of learned to adjust to just being a ghost in this house that has been passed down through the ages in her family. One day a very handsome Englishman shows up and he is prepared to move all of the family heirlooms out because the family is going to sell the house. This of course upsets Loulou. She proceeds to figure out how to manifest herself into physical form. From there on out it is a kind of a love story of these two people or one person and one ghost.
AFC: What attracted you to this project?
Boti: Actually I had worked with the producer and director and writer before. He produced a short film I was in called Night Music. There is a group of us that met through Howard Klein’s class in Los Angeles. Howard Klein is a prominent acting teacher. We got together and did this short Night Music that was such an amazing experience, Guy and I were thinking, ‘Okay, what do we do next?’ So he wrote this next movie of his, Loulou.
Boti: I think that what kind of is making this different is the creative group of us that has come together and we’re all kind of on the same page working towards the same goal. So it is a real collaborative effort of our hearts more than it is oh you have the writer, you have the director, the producer, whatever. It’s all kind of just all of us coming together and all lending a hand on what we think will make it a good movie.
AFC: Is it more of a ghost story or a love story?
Boti: I think I would call it a romantic comedy. I don’t know if you are familiar with an old movie called The Ghost and Mrs. Muir? It is an older film. It’s more about the romance than it is necessarily a horror flick.
AFC: Now do you have a favorite part or a favorite scene you could tell us about?
Boti: I think my favorite scenes are the ones that kind of happen when the handsome Englishman shows up.. He doesn’t quite figure out she is from the 1920s because he doesn’t really figure out she is a ghost, because she has manifested into physical form. The parts that get me that I love to play around with are the modern inventions that happened while she has been dead like the cell phone. There are some wonderful parts in the movie where she used to be a dancer and a cabaret. To see her kind of be able to interact with another human being so isolated for so long, it’s just neat to see that being played out and how fun and explore that.
AFC: It’s probably better than having your legs tied to a headboard.
Boti (laughing): A little better.
AFC: Is there a specific message to the movie or is it just a kind of exploration of a love story?
Boti: I think that is actually one of our questions were kind of working out right now. I think what it is a condition of human — of love. How important that is and integral that is too everybody even a ghost. I think the universal theme would be love and relationships and how if you really want to live and be alive that that’s proven through the amount of love you give and receive.
AFC: Which would you be more likely to watch, a ghost story or a love story?
Boti: I guess I really enjoy movies that have to do with human conditions and maybe based a little bit more in reality, so I think I would say romance. But you know if you are going to ask me what I watch on TV, I would probably have to say the majority of it is stuff on SyFy or Discovery Channel or it’s about ghost seekers.
AFC: Okay, I need to switch and ask you a few questions about CSI: Miami. So your character Maxine was temporarily suspended from season 3 for technical errors and then reinstated later on. Was that just part of the story or was there some kind of behind the scene reason that she was suspended?
Boti: No, I think it was just part of the storyline and the producer called me beforehand and said, ‘Listen, I am going to kind of do something with your character that looks like she might get fired, but I just want to reassure you that we’re going to have you back,’ and I thought, ‘Oh god, I hope that is true.’ It was good they told me ahead of time so I wasn’t left wondering if I was going to come back yet but you know I like things like that because you know it gives them something else to work with then just being in the lab. It always helps to have something emotionally going on as well.
AFC: Did you learn a lot about the DNA analysis just from your dialogue?
Boti: I have, you know, especially from the dialogue. We have people who were actually CSIs on set, so definitely I have learned a lot just having them around. They try to be as accurate as possible as far as like swabbing and getting it into the centrifuge and whatever all that takes, but I know that definitely we tend to get a case solved all in one week when in reality it takes years to solve one, I think.
AFC: Do you ever get fans trying to debate with you how realistic it is?
Boti: No, I think everybody knows that you know it’s a stretch, but the good part of that though is since it’s such a popular show – all these CSIs – I have had a lot of people come up to me and say that they were going to go into that field.
AFC: Oh, wow. Inspiring people everywhere.
Boti: Exactly. You’ll have a large amount of people going into DNA.
AFC: Well good because I can’t do it, so I am glad someone wants to.
Boti: That makes both of us.
AFC: CSI Miami is very popular. I didn’t know it was named the world’s most popular TV show from a survey that they did. We’re living in a time where reality shows have kind of taken over TV, so why do you think CSI: Miami has done so well?
Boti: I think that Jerry Bruckheimer just kind of has his finger on the pulse of what America wants, and I think as far as the Miami one – I don’t speak for the other two – but as far as the Miami one goes, I just think that there is a level of like glamour to it and you see sexy people, things happening to the rich people. It kind of takes you to a different world. I think that is kind of part of the success.
AFC: How many, you said that you actually have CSIs working with the show. How many are there?
Boti: The main producer Ann Donahue - I believe that is how she started - and then we have one other man on set but that’s just his job although I haven’t seen him this year. So maybe they figure we have it down somehow.
AFC: Out of all of your films and television appearances and everything, do you have a specific movie or show that you are most proud of your performance?
Boti: Yeah, I do. I think the thing that I have done that I am the most proud of is the show called Cracker and I think it only lasted a season or two. It was with a gentleman named Robert Pastorelli who has since passed away, but it was based on an English television show that was really popular. I would say that I am proud of my performance from that and I think a lot of that was due to the writing was just so good. It’s so rare that you get such good writing these days but it was awhile ago.
AFC: I am going to have to look that one up. Now what kind of movies do you like to watch?
Boti: I’m really a sucker for old, old movies. Like old film noir. I don’t know. I also really enjoy independent movies.
AFC: Last question: Who are you a fan of?
Boti: Oh, gosh. I am a huge fan of Gena Rowlands. I love that she is still working and always in something fresh and new. I am a huge fan of Jessica Lange. I think her performance in Grey Gardens is amazing.
Boti Ann Bliss
Partial Filmography: Warlock III, Bubble Boy, Ted Bundy, Power Play, National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze, Stage Kiss, Pulse 2.
Thank you for your time, Boti. It was a pleasure getting to talk to you. And for everyone else out there, this is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!
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