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The Best Time William Petersen Broke Character On CSI

If the first nine seasons of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" had a consistent protagonist, it would probably be Gil Grissom. Portrayed by William Petersen, Grissom easily stands as one of the series' most iconic characters. At the very least, fans were happy enough to see him return for the recent spin-off, "CSI: Vegas."

There's little wonder as to why Grissom is so popular. He's an interesting character, a witty, whimsical bookworm whose outsider worldview and intellect create a unique chemistry with almost every other cast member. On top of that, he's generally played wonderfully by Petersen, who after 10 seasons of television has practically mastered the character.

However, that doesn't mean Petersen is 100% perfect. Every actor breaks character on certain takes, either intentionally or not, and Petersen is no exception. The best time he broke character on "CSI" isn't due to a prank or a gag, but his genuine reaction is still hilarious to see.

Neither Grissom nor Petersen can handle Greg's antics

The character break in question happened while filming Season 2, Episode 20, "Cats in the Cradle..." While investigating the death of a stabbing victim, Grissom and Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) visit fellow CSI Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) for the lab results on a mysterious piece of fluid evidence. When they enter his lab, they find him vigorously rocking out to some rock music, to which Grissom provides a naturally sharp remark.

Even in the final version, the scene is dosed with a healthy amount of dry humor. Behind the scenes, however, William Petersen had some trouble keeping it together around Szmanda's antics. In one take in the Season 2 gag reel, Petersen bursts out laughing after Szmanda describes the fluid as something he would like a lady to rub all over him. After losing his composure to the laughably corny line, Petersen declares it "pathetic."

The moment may just be another case of a failed take, but it's also a good example of the behind-the-scenes personalities of the "CSI" cast. Gil Grissom may never crack in the face of absurdity, but William Petersen is not quite so rigid. It's a simple but perfect humanizing moment for the cast.