NCIS: Los Angeles is known more for being a high stakes/action-packed drama than a comedy.
But after my recent chat with stars Renée Felice Smith (Nell) and Barrett Foa (Eric), it was easy to see that the intensity of the job is not following these two off the set when they’re doing a full day of press side by side.
Trust me, their collective bubbliness was a very good thing for a lively chat to talk not only about what we’ll see in NCIS Los Angeles Season 6 Episode 4, but also to show just how much fun they’re having working on the popular CBS series.
The twosome talked about Nell’s road to recovery from her first kill, how Nate Getz’s return will stir things up and whether we’re going to be seeing any movement in the Nell/Eric relationship. Let’s see what they had to say…
Nell Needs Help – NCIS: Los Angeles
TV Fanatic: Nell is in such a fragile place. Can you talk about what we’re going to see her go through?
Renée Felice Smith: Basically, in the last episode she had to defend herself and she had to shoot one of our baddies and we’re going to see her grapple with that decision and she’s really on the fence about returning to work and whether this is the line of work she wants to be in. So she’s in that fragile, shaken state and…
Barrett Foa: And you know it’s serious because she’s not picking up the phone when Eric Beale calls.
RFS: That’s right! In one of the scenes, Eric leaves her a voicemail and she won’t even pick it up so things are rough for poor Nell but Nate Getz, our good friend and psychologist, comes in to assess her and sees if she’s up for it. And eventually Hetty has a conversation with her about her future at NCIS.
TVF: Do you think what she’s going through is like a rite of passage for anyone in that job?
RFS: I would think so! That’s all I can do is put myself in the character’s shoes so I would say that would probably be the biggest hurdle in your line of work and see if this is really something you want to do and if you can handle it.
TVF: Barrett, what is Eric’s piece in this?
BF: [Nell is] on her own and he’s kind of holding down the fort alone and he’s trying to be there for his friend and co-worker but he’s getting some radio silence so he knows it’s pretty serious.
TVF: Do you think Eric understands what she’s going through or is this foreign even for him?
BF: It’s absolutely foreign territory for him, certainly, but he’s seen the other agents go through it and now he sees his closest friend at work going through it so I think that affects him at an ever deeper level. But it’s high stakes and we’re defending our country and defending our lives so he knows it’s all a risk. As we’ll see down the line in a couple of episode, Eric has to defend himself. Our headquarters is infiltrated and there’s a mole inside the office…and not the animal kind!
RFS: These people are under high stress situations at work, which is something we normal folk really have as a luxury! These people are really doing amazing work for our country.
TVF: Nate is back and we know he has a history of some kind with Nell but how does Eric feel about him being back?
BF: Eric doesn’t like it!
RFS: Eric’s jelly.
BF: Eric is a little jelly. But Barrett is happy because we love Peter Cambor…
RFS: We love Peter!
BF: But as much as I like [Peter] I think Eric gets a little p.o.’d because Nell and Nate have a little bit of a past and we don’t know how much or how little but Eric has been jealous in the past. Nell has gone so far in the past to tell Nate that they have kissed.
RFS: I will say this – whenever Nate Getz does come back we bring the apple crates out for me to stand on because he is the tallest guy on Earth!
TVF: With Nate back, are we maybe going to see Eric make some overtures that the audience has maybe been waiting for him to make?
BF: I think that’s imminent. It’s definitely imminent. I think it’s going to kick some things into high gear.
RFS: We just did an episode where Eric and Nell come to blows with one another. [laughs]
BF: You really only fight with the people you love the most.
RFS: Nell has to kind of slap him back to reality!
BF: That was a rumor! Don’t read too much between the lines but let’s just say my cheek was red!
BF: Not that cheek, Jim! [laughs]
TVF: The episode this week is also a lot about Hetty being questioned and the Department of Justice in the office going through all the files. At this point, can our team trust anyone at this point?
RFS: Everyone’s in question and I think that’s what this is all about. It’s all a mystery.
BF: What’s so cool about this team is that we play by the rules but we also go rogue a lot. We do not play by the rules and we dodge the parameters of what is by the book and I think that makes it exciting. We have to make sacrifices for what we think is right and a lot of that has to do with loyalty and friendship and our love for the team.
RFS: Love the team and love the game, baby! [more laughs]
TVF: Moving forward, is there a storyline or guest star you’re excited for fans to see.
BF: Well, Meryl Streep…
RFS: …and Carol Burnett. They’re playing our Moms in a coming episode. But that’s old news.
TVF: Is that something you two are writing? Sounds like something you’re creating.
RFS: We’re going to pitch it!
BF: I do love that John Heard has been on the show as a recurring guest character.
RFS: From Home Alone! We also have Aisha Hinds, who plays one of our investigators at the DOJ and she’s going a great scene with LL Cool J coming up where she kind of confesses her interest in him.
TVF: Barrett, when I talked to Shane Brennan a few weeks ago, I urged him to have you sing on the show if he could find a way to do it.
BF: It’s been hinted at a few times…
RFS: Actually he did sing a bit of the National Anthem at the end of one of our scenes but unfortunately it was cut due to time.
BF: And it was pretty brilliant! [laughs] Always humble Barrett Foa! But [Eric] has been in the choir so they’ve been dropping little hints of it in so I’m waiting for that.
RFS: If my Dad gets his wish we will be dance studio owners and partners in an upcoming episode where we’ll both be able to sing and dance.
BF: It’s what we do. It’s what we love.
NCIS: Los Angeles Season 6 airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.
Nell (Renée Felice Smith ) had no idea when she agreed to impersonate Hetty (Linda Hunt) on last week’s episode of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” just how life-threatening the mission was going to be. And even though Sam (LL Cool J) and Callen (Chris O’Donnell) were on the case, Nell had to take a life to save her own.
Traumatized by the action, on tonight’s episode, Nell is huddled up at home, where she gets a visit from Operational Psychologist Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), who visits to help her through her traumatic experience, but also to determine if she will be able to return to the field.
Of course, Hetty’s life is still in peril, and her team — Sam, Callen, Kensi (Daniela Ruah), Nell, Eric (Barrett Foa), and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) — go to desperate lengths to keep her safe, even as she endangers her own life by returning from Washington, D.C. into the face of menace.
In a conversation with Renée and Barrett, the two talked about the separate journey their two NCIS characters have been on, how they will be back to the Nell and Eric banter we love so much in the future, and more.
Did it affect you as a person to have to pretend to kill someone? Or because of the way it is shot, you don’t really see it happen?
Renée Felice Smith: We don’t see it happen, but I am a pretty sensitive person so it did affect me in having to play the aftermath of shooting someone, it does affect you psychologically. But that is what the character has to go through as well.
Tonight, we see her dealing with her emotions and Nate comes back and we talk it out to see if she can handle it.
Nell isn’t as close to Nate as she is to Hetty. Is he going to be able to help her or does she need her mentor to come back and make things okay?
Renée: She actually gets to talk to both of them. Nate comes back and assesses her. Then Hetty has a heart-to-heart with her as well, so she gets both doses of good medicine.
Is Eric jealous of the fact that Nell is in the field, or he by no means wants to do the dangerous missions?
Barrett Foa: What Eric and Barrett want and need is different. I like when Eric gets out. It is fun to be on location and getting to see how the other half of our show works. Eric mostly works with the inside headquarters half, and I don’t get to meet the fans on the street and see the sunshine. But there is something actually comforting about that, also. Being on the soundstage is comforting, like being home. You know how it works: You know the camera angles, you know the lighting, I have it all down to a science. There is something outside the box when you go out into the field. Eric is used to showing where the bad guys are, not being where the bad guys are. So Eric is comfy inside, but it is always fun to have someone who is comfy be in an uncomfortable place.
Even though Eric doesn’t want to be out there, danger finds him anyway, because on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” no one is ever 100 percent safe. So when that happens, does he find that he is cool in action?
Barrett: Eric is never cool. There is stuff coming up where Eric is in a lot of danger first hand. It is exciting to see how Barrett as an actor dealt with that because it is something I had never done before. Eric has never been in that kind of danger, and I have to think, “What would I do? How would I react because Eric is not used to it?”
Renée: We all react in our own way. It is interesting to see a fish out of water sometimes.
I know we are only a few episodes into the new season but it feels as if as if the bit of romance between these two isn’t being played as much. Has something changed?
Renée: Nothing has changed. I think they were focusing on Nell now being a junior agent outside, so they haven’t physically been together on a lot of these missions. We are looking forward to them coming back together as the season goes on.
Barrett: I think that gets reestablished in upcoming episodes a little more. There is like a lovers/friends quarrel coming up, which is an indicator of how close they are.
Renée: It is great to see that they are comfortable enough to be honest with each other.
Barrett: There’s a really nice resolution. It was nice taking a break from it and then going back. It is going to be super sexy coming up.
So Hetty has all these places to live that were compromised in last week’s episode. Is she going to have to sell them all and move since the addresses were revealed? Does Hetty come from money?
Renée: You have to remember that Hetty is an enigma wrapped in a riddle covered in a …
Renée: We know that. Her houses remain her houses. It is yet to be determined if she has to sell them and get some new extravagant [places to live]. I have to tell you, that house we shot in was absolutely gorgeous. It had gold-leaf detailing on the ceiling and murals from the 1920s.
Barrett: Who knows if Hetty has money or not, but, remember, she is well connected. Maybe these are favors; maybe these are gifts. I think
Renée: We just saw that she knows the pope. This is a woman who is well traveled and has a lot of friends in high places. One may never know where Hetty gets her money from, but we do enjoy [the mystery].
What would you like to see for your character going forward?
Barrett: We talked about something earlier. I think, for me, I am glad we took the Nell/Eric break, but I am excited for that to get rekindled. I miss that funny banter that was so delicious.
Renée: I miss the funny banter. The danger has been heightened and highlighted on the show, so it will be good to get back to the banter, which, I think, is the heart of our show. I am always looking for a dance break. Hopefully, one of these days, we will get one.
Barrett: At first I thought that was a metaphor. You want an actual dance break?
Renée: A choreographed dance break with Nell and Eric. I think Kensi and Deeks had one.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” airs in its new Monday night timeslot at 10 p.m. on CBS.
WHEN SAM IS ARRESTED FOR MURDERING A WOMAN, KENSI AND DEEKS UNCOVER A LINK BETWEEN THE VICTIM AND A STUDENT FROM SAM’S PAST, ON “NCIS: LOS ANGELES,” MONDAY, NOV. 3
Series Star Chris O’Donnell Directed the Episode
Mixed Martial Artist & Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva Guest Stars
“SEAL Hunter” – When Sam is arrested for murdering a woman, Callen and Granger work to clear his name. Meanwhile, Kensi and Deeks discover a link between the victim and a student from Sam’s past, on NCIS: LOS ANGELES, Monday, Nov. 3 (9:59-11:00 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Chris O’Donnell directed the episode. Mixed martial artist and former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva guest stars.
CHEAT TWEET: Sam is arrested 4 murder! Will his name b cleared? + @chrisodonnell directs & @SpiderAnderson guest stars! 11/3 9:59pm
CALLEN AND SAM HEAD TO MEXICO TO TRACK DOWN THE ONLY EMPLOYEE WHO MANAGED TO ESCAPE A PROFESSIONAL SHOOTING AT THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, ON “NCIS: LOS ANGELES,” MONDAY, OCT. 27
Magician Bill Malone and John Billingsley Guest Star
“Black Budget” – Callen and Sam head to Mexico to track down the only employee who managed to escape a professional shooting at the Department of Defense. Meanwhile, the rest of the team works to uncover the motive behind the shooting, on NCIS: LOS ANGELES, Monday, Oct. 27 (9:59-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Magician Bill Malone and John Billingsley guest star.
CHEAT TWEET: Callen & Sam head Mexico while the rest of the #NCISLA team assist from LA + @billmalonemagic guest stars! 10/27 9:59pm
Nell (Renee Felice Smith) tackles her most challenging security assignment to date on Monday’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles: going undercover as Hetty (Linda Hunt).
With Hetty under investigation by the Department of Justice (and also apparently the target of a more sinister plot, if last week’s episode is any indication), the team mobilizes to protect her. And for Nell, that means masquerading as her boss.
Remarkably, Smith says she only spent five minutes in the makeup chair for her disguise, since Hunt wears minimal makeup on the show. The real heavy lifting in terms of her costume came via her wig and mimicking Hunt’s mannerisms.
Check out an exclusive gallery of Smith’s transformation and get her behind-the-scenes take on the plot here.
NCIS: LA airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.
TEAM SCORPION MUST PASS A MANDATED PSYCH EVALUATION OR FACE BEING DISBANDED AFTER THEY’RE ACCUSED OF DETROYING A PRICELESS WORK OF ART, ON “SCORPION,” MONDAY, OCT. 27
“NCIS: LOS ANGELES” Star Linda Hunt Guest Stars as Hetty Lange
“True Colors” – Team Scorpion must pass a mandated psych evaluation or face being disbanded after they’re accused of destroying a priceless work of art in an attempt to protect an art exhibit. Meanwhile, Paige enlists the help of the team when Ralph is reluctant to go to his school’s Halloween party, on SCORPION, Monday, Oct. 27 (9:00-9:59 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. NCIS: LOS ANGELES star Linda Hunt guest stars Hetty Lange, who assists Team Scorpion with their mission.
CHEAT TWEET: #CROSSOVER! #LindaHunt from @NCISLA helps @KatharineMcPhee & @ElyesGabel solve a case! 10/27 9pm @ScorpionCBS