‘NCIS: LA’ Cast Weighs In on the Emotional Hetty Surprise at Densi’s Wedding

Til Death Do Us Part
Monty Brinton/CBS

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for the March 17 episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, “Till Death Do Us Part.”]

Linda Hunt just made our Sunday night!

Not only did the actress surprise us by returning as boss lady Hetty Lange on NCIS: Los Angeles, her character officiated the long-awaited marriage ceremony of special agents Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen)! We couldn’t ask for a more perfect person to guide them through their vows — or a better topper to an emotional, action-packed episode. Call it the icing on the wedding cake!

We talked to the stars about having the 73-year-old Oscar-winner, who was in a car accident last year that left her temporarily unable to work, back on set.

“I started crying when I saw her,” confesses Ruah who couldn’t stop taking selfies with Hunt. “We have not set eyes on her or spoken to her in a year. We’ve just been getting updates on her wellbeing from our higher-ups and we were just over the moon. She’s so loved by everybody including the audience. I mean, the amount of messages I get saying, ‘If she leaves the show I’m not watching anymore.’ I think she’s enjoying the love.”

Chris O’Donnell as Callen, Linda Hunt as Hetty, and LL Cool J as Hanna in “Till Death Do Us Part” (Monty Brinton/CBS)

Olsen was equally thrilled. “I gave her a hug and I go, ‘I want you to be prepared. There’s a good chance that I’m just gonna keep coming up to you and hugging you throughout the night.’ She goes, ‘That will be fine by me,’” Olsen says. “There’s something about her gravitas that anchors the show. She does a take and it lands perfectly in a way that Linda Hunt can do better than anybody else in the world. [When that happens ] I get tears in my eyes and a ridiculous six-year-old smile. It’s so good to have her back.”

LL Cool J., who plays senior special agent Sam Hanna, had more to say about Hunt’s unique vibe as a performer. “She brings a fragile toughness. I know that is an oxymoron, but that’s what she brings — a toughness, a centeredness, a balance, and a level of experience that just makes everybody feel good. She’s so good as an actress, so interesting to watch; it just makes the show that much better,” the actor says. “She hadn’t been around in a while so it was good to see her healthy and back rocking with us. The good guys won again. And that’s a groovy thing.”

NCIS: Los Angeles

LL Cool J as Hanna and Chris O’Donnell as Callen  (Monty Brinton/CBS)

Executive producer Scott Gemmill, who wrote the episode, has worked with Hunt for many years and the two have a close relationship. “We were waiting for her to feel well enough where she was comfortable [returning]. Linda knew we were going to do the wedding and she really wanted to be the officiant. That was a real incentive for her,” Gemmill says.

“Even though she was maybe still on the road to recovery, she did not want to miss that wedding — for our show family it was pretty special and everybody wanted to be there. She soldiered on and came.”

Expect to see more of Hunt on NCIS:LA. Says Gemmill, “Moving forward she’s raring to go.”

LL Cool J as Hanna, Daniela Ruah as Kensi, and Chris O’Donnell as Callen (Monty Brinton/CBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS