The Untold Truth Of CSI Actress Lisa Sheridan

Actress Lisa Sheridan was found dead in her New Orleans apartment on Feb. 25, 2019. The star was 44 years old and coming off of a recent starring role in the sci-fi horror film Strange Nature. People confirmed the news with Sheridan's manager, Mitch Clem. At the time of this writing, a cause of death has not yet been determined.

Sheridan had a decades-long Hollywood career, and though the actress may not have been a household name, she made her mark with a number of cameos and credits in some of the most beloved TV dramas, including The Fosters, CSI, NCIS, The Mentalist, and Legacy. Though most of us would recognize her face, she was relatively private about her personal life, aside from a high-profile engagement to Office Space star Ron Livingston. Who was the actress when the cameras stopped rolling? 

From an honors grad at Carnegie Mellon to a Star Wars fanatic and sci-fi queen, this is the untold truth of Lisa Sheridan.

A broken engagement

Though Lisa Sheridan's career is firmly rooted in TV, the actress took her first foray into the world of movies with 2000's Beat, where she appeared alongside Courtney Love, Kiefer Sutherland, and Norman Reedus. That film also marks the first time she worked with Ron Livingston, the Office Space actor who was fresh off his iconic role opposite Jennifer Aniston. Thought it's long thought sparks flew between the pair on-set, these two may have become acquainted a little earlier.

In an interview with People, Livingston admitted that the pair first "struck up a conversation" at a 1997 screening of The English Patient. Livingston was hesitant to call her, but once the flick won an Oscar, he thought it'd make an excellent excuse to give her a ring — the telephone kind (the diamond would come later.) "We fell in love in our first hour and a half together. Yeah, it was that easy," he told People.

But as Livingston settled into his role on the hit HBO series Sex and the City, things started to fall apart both on-screen and off. Jack Berger wasn't the right man for Carrie Bradshaw, and he also wasn't the right man for Sheridan. According to the Mirror, the pair broke up in 2003, sometime after she was spotted on his arm during the Little Black Book premiere. 

Sheridan never married. Livingston wed actress Rosemarie DeWitt in 2009.

She kept life-long friends

It's rare that friendships last a lifetime. Falling out of touch — through different jobs, moves, and relationships — just sort of happens as we age, but not for Lisa Sheridan. The CSI actress was reportedly the kind of person who held onto her friends tightly.

Following Sheridan's untimely death, filmmaker Michael Dunaway shared a heartbreaking tribute in which he revealed that he's been friends with the actress for more than 30 years. The pair met when Sheridan was just 14 years old and she started referring to him as "big brother." In Dunaway's words: "We were immediately attached at the hip, true soulmates from minute one. For the rest of the days of her life, she was a central part of mine." A person who can hold onto their high school friends is, indeed, rare.

The one role she really wanted

Star Wars is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. According to Forbes, The Force Awakens is the "fastest-ever film to reach the $500 million mark" in the domestic box office and fastest-ever to reach $1 billion in the global box office. Just 20 days after its release, it became the highest-grossing film of all time in North America, and yet it still somehow trailed its predecessors. If you account for inflation, the original Star Wars movie grossed the equivalent of $1.19 billion in the United States. Between that and the litany of books, theme park rides, and Porg-shaped records, we can safely say it's pretty popular. Landing a role in such a franchise would be a career-best for most actors (unless that role is Jar Jar Bink).

Though Sheridan never scored a part in a galaxy far, far away, she was perfectly prepared if the opportunity arrived. According to TV Guide, the CSI actress had been a massive Star Wars fan since childhood and dressed up as Princess Leia almost every single Halloween while she was growing up.

A floundering show earns her a cult following

Lisa Sheridan's big break arrived in 1999 with Legacy, but she got an opportunity to be a sci-fi TV star in 2000 with FOX network's FreakyLinks. By all accounts, the latter was meant to be really, really freaky. According to Entertainment Weekly, the masters behind The Blair Witch Project adopted their famed found-footage style for the TV series, which followed a group of "paranormal-obsessed twentysomethings." The marketing plan was even more genius: The show launched a terrifying paranormal website that looked totally real (long before Paranormal Activity adopted a similar viral approach).

Unfortunately, FreakyLinks floundered. Executive Producer Tommy Thompson left the series before it even premiered. David Simkins, the co-executive producer, scrambled to rework the script in just eight days, and the name was changed last minute to give the series a cheekier (rather than terrifying) tone. Haxan, The Blair Witch people, "distanced themselves from the series," and it was cancelled after just 13 episodes.

Though it seems like almost no one remembers FreakyLinks today, it actually developed quite the cult following. A number of petitions surfaced online begging FX to pick up the show. At least one of those pleas still exists on (Hey, it was the early '00s.)

She took a Hallmark role to reunite with Eddie Cibrian

Following the cancellation of FreakyLinks, Lisa Sheridan spent a couple of years doing single-episode cameos before landing a starring role opposite Eddie Cibrian on 2006's Invasion. The sci-fi drama lasted 22 episodes — the longest run in Sheridan's entire career, so when it came to acting alongside Cibrian again, the Halt and Catch Fire actress jumped at the chance. In an exclusive Hallmark Channel interview, Sheridan admitted she knew she was wanted to join the cast of 2010's Healing Hands after hearing that Cibrian would be her co-star.

"When I got the call, and they said, 'Well, it's going to be you and Eddie,' I was like, 'Eddie? I'm in,'" she said. "I mean, we did a lot of rain and nights and long, long shoots together on Invasion, and so beautiful downtown Hartley is a lovely walk in the park with him compared to that." Healing Hands, also known by its alternative title, Working Miracles, received so-so reviews. It currently holds a 50 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but demonstrates a major departure from Sheridan's body of grittier roles.

The surprising true story that inspired her last role

Strange Nature was the last role Lisa Sheridan would ever take. The sci-fi thriller took a Black Mirror approach to the not-so-distant future. What if the ills plaguing wildlife spread to humans? Is it something we could overcome? The reason Strange Nature was so successful in its scares was because it was rooted in truth.

According to a Horror Fuel interview with writer and director Jim Ojala, the eco-horror was actually based on mysterious real-life events. In 1995, some school kids found dozens of deformed frogs with extra or missing legs, malformed jaws, and extra, misplaced or missing eyes in a pond near the the Minnesota River. Over the next five years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency examined nearly 25,000 frogs from around the state, as reports of deformed frogs started popping up around the world. Today, the cause of the deformities is still not completely understood. The MPCA lost funding to study the frogs in 2001, but according to the United States Geological Survey, parasites, chemicals, or UV rays might be contributing factors.

Strange Nature currently has a 75 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and has most of us reevaluating our carbon footprint).

Did Sheridan endure dark times?

Sheridan exuded warmth in her everyday life, but the Halt and Catch Fire actress may have been battling some hidden demons behind the scenes. Numerous alleged friends of the actress have spoken out about her various — but vague — struggles. In a heartbreaking tribute, friend and Playboy Playmate Donna D'Errico admitted she was "stunned" and "devastated" by news of Sheridan's passing. "It's so rare to find kind, gentle souls like hers in this industry, this city...even this world ... She brought a sweetness and bright energy to any room she happened to walk into...even in her darker times."

Filmmaker Michael Dunaway also alluded to some sort of struggle in his Instagram tribute to Sheridan. "She was beautiful, obviously, and an immensely talented actor, and a wonderful friend, but more than anything she really did radiate this impossibly bright energy and life," he said. "Even in her dark moments. And she had plenty of those, especially over the last few years."

We may never get the full story of what exactly was going on in the actress' private life, but it sounds like there was more than meets the eye.

Her family doesn't think it was suicide

As of this writing, it's not clear how Lisa Sheridan passed away. According to People, her family was absolutely "blindsided" by her death and was still awaiting the coroner's report at the time of this writing. Regardless of the cause, her loved ones are reportedly certain that Sheridan did not take her own life. "The family has unequivocally confirmed that this is not a suicide. Any suggestion to the contrary is absolutely, 100% unfounded," the actress' manager, Mitch Clem, told People.

Model Donna D'Errico claimed to have spoken to her friend recently. In a Facebook post, she wrote that "everything seemed great" and Sheridan "seemed happy and in good spirits." Of course, not everyone who struggles exhibits obvious warning signs.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call or chat online with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).