Why ‘NCIS: LA’ Star Daniela Ruah Is ‘Thrilled’ About Densi’s ‘New Beginnings’
NCIS: Los Angeles ended its 14-year run with a series finale, titled “New Beginnings,” that delivered happiness and left quite a bit up in the air about the future.
For Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) and Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), whose journey to parenthood hasn’t been easy (remember back when the top of kids first came up?), she found out she’s pregnant just before Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and Anna’s (Bar Paly) wedding.
Here, Ruah opens up about Kensi’s ending and more.
After how tough the journey to parenthood has been for Kensi and Deeks, it was so great to see them so happy this past year, with Rosa (Natalia Del Riego), now the pregnancy… When did you know this was going to be part of Kensi’s ending?
Daniela Ruah: I had heard some rumors that that is what they were thinking about adding for Kensi at the end, and honestly, I was very thrilled, and I think the way that it was done in the episode was kind of brilliant, too. It’s what happens in so many infertility journeys, fortunately, where people just end up giving up because they’ve gone through what they had to go through and it didn’t work out and the minute they don’t think about it anymore, it happens naturally for them. I love that that was a part of their journey. I think Kensi and Deeks really deserved for that to happen for them.
I love that now what was a family of three will eventually be a family of four. And they obviously don’t love Rosa any less. They’re just happy to have a bigger family that I think they both never had and always wished they had.
I like that they told Rosa by telling her she’s going to be a big sister.
Right? She comes in, and she’s like, “Why is everybody crying?”
I only represented that journey of infertility on the show. I didn’t live through it in real life, but I know the joy that it is to add to your family because I have two children myself. And so yeah, it was just such a genuinely happy moment for us in the room. And it was just a sense of — how can I explain it? We were all very emotional about it being the last episode anyway. So when you add in that sense of joy, I’m trying to explain this on an emotional level, and it’s difficult because it still feels so big for me, that that was the way their journey ended or began really, right? It’s left as an open-ended, it’s new beginnings. The end of the show is new beginnings, and I just loved it.
I’m just so thrilled and happy that that’s how it was. When I had my own kids, we had chosen to hide those pregnancies because it didn’t make sense at that time for Kensi to be pregnant in the story arc of those characters.[That] made sense to me at the time, too. I remember the debate was always like, we have two federal agents who work in dangerous jobs, potentially life-threatening jobs. How do you deal with that when you bring a child into the world? Is Kensi just going to stop working? Is that what we want to say that women should do? Should Deeks stay home? Do we want to transmit that a parent should stay home and leave their job just because it’s a dangerous job when you have tons and thousands of families out there who have two parents who are either in law enforcement or both of them are in the military?
We never wanted to be a commentary on how it should be. Because everything is different for each family and it works differently for each family, and we would never want to be dictating how other people should be making their choices who live similar lives as these characters. So it was always like, there’s no right way to do this. And so we kept the infertility journey, which I think was super important to represent on the show because there really are millions of women and men and families, couples in general, around the world who go through that. And so it was a way to also not have to make the decision of what happens for them. I remember always saying, wouldn’t it be nice if on the last episode they found out they were pregnant? Because then you don’t have to show how they do it, but they get the joy of having the baby.
Talk about filming that scene because it was so emotional.
We’re actors, we have our job to do, but we’re also obviously human beings, and there are days where you’re really feeling it and there are days where you’re not as tapped into your emotions. I think that I was looking forward to that moment in that scene so much, and I hyped myself up so much for the things I wanted to try to do in the scene and experiment with and see what the director was looking at and looking for, that when I got there, it went blank. I told our director, “JPK, I’m not feeling it. I’m not feel being able to perceive what I’m doing.” Sometimes that happens. Sometimes as an actor, you’re doing something and all of a sudden it’s like you’re watching yourself doing it, so therefore you’re not really present while you’re doing it. It’s this weird sensation that if you’re not an actor, I don’t know if you can identify with or understand, but there are moments in your life where it’s like you’re watching yourself and you’re listening to yourself and judging yourself as opposed to just living in the moment. And that happened to me on the day. Then between Eric being an excellent scene partner and the crew and team just having the synergy we have after 14 years, it ended up coming together for me emotionally.
How long do you think Kensi stays at NCIS or at least in the position she is going forward? Part of me wonders about a promotion but then that might take her out of the field and it’s hard to imagine Kensi not being in on the action of field work… And right now, she doesn’t have to answer that.
No, and I don’t have an answer for you. I think the whole point of having left this open at the end is also so we don’t have to answer that question because there is no right answer. Obviously during the pregnancy, she would not be able to be out in the field doing dangerous things. That’s just for general safety of her and the baby and stuff. I think the biggest question was always what happens after having the baby. But now we also have Mama Deeks [Pamela Reed] who lives right next to us and can help out and everything. But the fact remains is you have two parents who are in the line of fire pretty frequently and they live a high risk life. So what decisions will they both make between them about that? I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think anybody has known for the last 14 years, which is why it’s been such a big debate.
Because of the way that they handled parenthood for them, we got to continue to see Kensi have fight scenes, which is such a big part of her character.
Oh yeah. I would ask for those. There are definitely times where obviously they would write it for me, but I just remember being like, “Hey guys, I haven’t had a fight scene for a long time. Can we throw one in there if it makes sense to, please?” Especially with Kyle Harimoto, who’s one of our EPs on the show, and he has a jujitsu background and stuff, I’d be like, “Kyle, come on, write me a scene. Write me a fight scene, man. Come on. Give it to me.”
We got to see quite the love story play out for Kensi and Deeks, from meeting to being unable to define their “thing” to finally getting together to now having a family. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but it’s been an incredible one. What stands out to you about their arc over the series?
If you talk about Kensi in particular, in this case, we have a young lady who was a rebellious teenager, lived on the street for a while. She went from being a loner, from being independent, from being a survivor of just life in general, with a father who she was very much in awe of, who was taken from her far too young, a mother that she never related to. All these things that she was hoping for she never had, but she also didn’t know how to attain them or maintain them.
And all of a sudden Deeks comes along and sort of shifts that for her. Then you have Deeks, who has his own troubled history. He had an abusive father. His mother is amazing but funny. He had to shoot his father in order to protect his mother and himself. And he’s the most righteous human who will do something that could be perceived as wrong for the greater good, like when he shot the cop because he was physically abusive to a woman.
So these are very two different people, both with troubled histories in their own way, but both fundamentally good humans and who were both just craving love and partnership and somebody to grow old with, and they didn’t know how to again, attain that or maintain it. So it took years for them to figure that out. But I also think the maturity of age, right? Kensi was in her 20s when she meets Deeks. People grow and they learn and they adapt to each other. At some point after the years, you realize you can’t live without this person, and so you’re going to have to give up some of your old ways if you’re going to make it work. That’s what a partnership is about, right? It’s compromise and respect, and they find that with each other.
What would most surprise the Kensi of Season 1 about the Kensi of Season 14?
Motherhood. I don’t know if she ever said this out loud, but I don’t know if she envisioned herself ever doing anything that would pull her full attention away from the job. I think she says this at some point where this is just all she knows. She joined NCIS with the intention of finding her father’s murderer. And that’s her team. That’s her brotherhood, that’s her life. “I wake up, I go to work, and then I come home, I go to sleep, wake up and do it again. That’s all I know.” And then obviously life changes, life matures. You meet people who make you want more than just that. So I think Kensi from Season 1 would’ve been surprised, but happy if she knew what she had coming to her.
You said that they have Mama Deeks, but they might also have Arkady (Vyto Ruginis), which I think would just be hilarious.
Oh my gosh. I adore Vyto. I have to say Pamela and Vyto are two of my favorite humans. Not only do I find them to be brilliant actors — I believe they did a play together years and years ago, if not more than that — but their ease and they’re so grounded in the way that they represent their characters, even within the silliness, even the sort of constant half-drunk state that Arkady is in, Vyto the actor is extremely grounded when he’s playing that. Whatever comes out, comes out. And it’s fluid and funny. And it’s hard in editing because he throws so many good things at you that you want to use everything, but obviously you can’t. So you have to choose particular takes for him.
And then Pamela as well, I’ve just known her work for so many years. Even though she’s in a lot of brilliant work, particularly for me, what I have her in my mind as is from Kindergarten Cop. So our guest actors are really the ones who made the show pretty amazing to come in. And a lot of people are only supposed to come in for one episode, and then we love ’em so much And they bring so much to the table that we’re like, oh, let’s bring him in again and again and again. … Erik Palladino [who played Sabatino and returned in the finale] is one of the reoccurring guest roles that we’ve had for good reason.