‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: Daniela Ruah & Eric Christian Olsen Team Up Behind the Scenes

Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen
Q&A
CBS

NCIS: Los Angeles fans are getting two episodes on May 1 on CBS. The second, titled “Live Free or Die Standing,” is written by Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS Investigator Marty Deeks) and is directed by Daniela Ruah (Special Agent Kensi Blye), and features a different kind of teamup by the show’s agents.

TV Insider chatted up the two actors on the recent PaleyFest tribute to NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: Hawai’i at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The hyphenates talked about how they work together as writer and director, their characters’ quest to become parents, and the possibility of an NCIS three-way crossover as the trio of procedurals have been renewed for next season!

How did working together on this episode go?

Daniela Ruah: I’ve gotta be honest — Eric’s script was a fireball freight train moving with rhythm. He’s such a creative interesting writer, who researches so much. He’s so astute. It was so collaborative and present.

Eric Christian Olsen: I was lucky that [Daniela] has directed four episodes. She’s incredible. She’s at her best as a director. She’s the real deal.

Your characters are going through fertility issues. How has that been to play?

Ruah: I have friends who have gone through this process and I was diligent in talking to them. I didn’t want any part of this journey for Kensi to be inauthentic. A friend called me after seeing a scene I did on and said that was so authentic. I said that’s because I had talked to you before filming it! I also think that it’s important to bring attention to the fact that there are older kids in foster care who need attention. Scott [Gemmill] did a really good job of taking the show down that route.

CBS

Olsen: One of my philosophies as a [storyteller] is to tell stories that make us feel less alone. I don’t think there are a lot on broadcast procedurals with characters on them who are trying to start a family. They showing the highs and lows of that as [Kensi and Deeks] tackle their day jobs. A lot of audience members are going through the same challenges.

In the case of your characters, there’s a viable danger that Mom and/or Dad might not come home to a little one given their lines of work.

Olsen: That’s a conversation that the characters have a lot. One of my favorite scenes from this season is [Deeks] realizing he couldn’t leave [a child] to go on this journey alone.

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What did you learn from writing your last NCIS: Los Angeles episode?

Olsen: It was 17 minutes over. In cutting, I lost all of the comedy so, in this one I tried to leave the comedy in all the way through and let it help drive the story and in the third act I let the action take over.

Comedy in drama is a fine line to walk.

Olsen: Yes. I think Scott Gemmill has done a really good job of walking that fine line and creating banter [among the characters]. I’m just echoing what he taught me.

Speaking of danger, Kessler, played by Frank Military, executive producer, is still out there…

Ruah: He is and he is still a threat. That’s something our show does so beautifully. They keep some sort of threat alive [all the time]. That’s going to continue this season. It was fun to work with Frank.

Olsen: This is something that pushes the tension — knowing that he can come back at any time.

Francis Specker/CBS

There’s the possibility of a three-way crossover with all the NCIS shows now that they’ve all been renewed. You up for that?

Olsen: I’m in! [Especially,] if we shoot it in Hawaii. I’m in.

Ruah: I’ve played Kensi on three different shows – Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, and NCIS: Los Angeles. NCIS: Hawai’i would make it four!

You’ve been on three as the same character and also, Kelsey Grammer has played Frasier Crane on three – Cheers, Wings, and Frasier. That’d be a new record.

Ruah: It’s gotta be!

NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 9/8c