Marg Helgenberger leaves "CSI" in two-part episode

Marg Helgenberger arrives at the 65th annual Tony Awards, Sunday, June 12, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes) Charles Sykes

Marg Helgenberger arrives at the 65th annual Tony Awards, June 12, 2011, in New York.
AP Photo/Charles Sykes

(CBS) Marg Helgenberger will be playing crime scene investigator Catherine Willows on "CSI" for one last time next week. After 12 seasons the actress has decided to give up her role on the very successful franchise.

Pictures: Marg Helgenberger

"I felt the need to kind of step back, because I had been playing this character for 11 and a half years, to reassess and regroup and I'm - as scary as that is - I'm also very excited about the great wide open, the future and all the possibilities," the 53-year-old actress told "CBS This Morning."

Helgenberger has received many accolades for her role as the Las Vegas crime scene investigator, receiving both Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations. The actress will also receive Hollywood's highest recognition with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 23.

While she is leaving the show, she isn't ruling out returning for a special episode or two.

"The producers said to me practically every day the door is wide open. ... If I'm available and I'm up for it you betcha," she told the Associated Press.

"CSI" aired half of Helgenberger's two-part departure episode last night. The actress' final episode will air Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

  • Camille Mann

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