PASADENA The timing couldn’t be any better for CBS.
The network’s new procedural crime drama, “CSI: Cyber,” launched just days after star Patricia Arquette made headlines with her impassioned speech at the Oscars. She made a plea for equal pay for woman while picking up her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “Boyhood.”
CBS now has an opinionated Oscar winner in a starring role. And, it sees the return Arquette, who starred in “Medium” for seven seasons on the network.
“CSI: Cyber” is about a group of criminal investigators who look into crimes that have to do with the Internet. Joining Arquette are Charley Koontz, Hayley Kiyoko, Peter MacNicol, James Van Der Beek and Shad Moss.
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Arquette was drawn to the project because the various “CSI” series are seen by more people around the globe than any other franchise. She hopes that means she will get to connect with a global audience.
She also things the show is timely.
“I feel like we’re on the dawn of a new time. This is like the Industrial Revolution. This is an explosion of the way that we’re going to be living our lives. Teams that are doing things that excites audiences. And yet they’re also introducing all this information about these new technologies and the ways that we’re living now, moving forward, the way that crime is developing,” Arquette says. “We’ve been seeing cops with guns, law enforcement with guns, that were men for over 50 years. So to be a woman in law enforcement on television, I think, is sort of important. It’s a powerful position for a woman to be in.”
And, she’s not just another cop with a gun and badge. Her team will deal with the latest technologies used to commit crimes.
Arquette has the benefit of getting background help from an expert in the field. Her character is based on Mary Aiken, a professor of cyber analytics at Hawaii Pacific University, who works as a cyber psychologist. That’s the study of the impact of emerging technology on human behavior, a discipline that’s only about 15 years old.
“I focus on human behavior manifested in a virtual context. So that could be victim behavior and cyber criminal behavior.” Aiken says. “Effectively, it’s a new area of study; but the good thing about it is that we can deliver insight, as cyber psychologists, at the intersection between humans and technology. And it’s the insight piece that is important going forward.”
Aiken is involved with every aspect of the series, from fine-tuning scripts to helping Arquette find the way to play her character of Avery Ryan.
Arquette is using elements from Aiken and then adding her own spin. Part of that approach is making Avery have a strong survival mechanism. She can show empathy for the victims, but once she gets too close the situation gets uncomfortable.
And speaking of uncomfortable, Arquette laughingly explains it took at least six episodes for her to be able to handle all of the technical jargon without stumbling.
It’s gotten easier because the attention from the Oscars has settled down.
“I kind of feel like Superman and Clark Kent. Because we’ll be shooting half the day and then I’ll go do press and then I come back and shoot or do press on this and or press on that,” Arquette says. “I’m so fortunate as an actor to be working. I’m grateful for work. I’m interested in this subject matter. I like to entertain people. We made this little art movie. It’s having incredible reception. I’m very grateful for that.
“So I just feel like I’m having a beautiful moment in my life. I’m grateful for everything.”