‘NCIS’ Director Rocky Carroll Teases Jimmy & Kasie ‘Negotiate for Their Lives’

NCIS Season 17 Episode 19 Blarney
Monty Brinton/CBS

When we drop by the L.A. set of NCIS in February, things seem off.

Nice-guy medical examiner Jimmy Palmer and forensic pro Kasie Hines (Brian Dietzen and Diona Reasonover, above), usually out of harm’s way, are in a diner being held at gunpoint by robbers. And to the rescue is…normally suit-wearing NCIS office fixture, Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll, below)? In a ball cap and jeans? Then Carroll says “Cut!” and it’s all clear: He’s directing; the episode airs Tuesday.

To the veteran actor, “A good director takes the things you do well and says, ‘Let’s build on that.'” This is his 13th time behind the camera for the crime drama since 2015 (he also directs the May 8 Magnum P.I.). Back then, despite experience helming stage productions, he was both surprised and nervous when producers handed him the bullhorn. Star Mark Harmon, an exec producer and a pal since their Chicago Hope days, “has been my biggest supporter,” notes Carroll.

On set, the actors are happy to stretch themselves. “In a show that’s been on the air so long, people make assumptions about character limitations,” Carroll says, “but Jimmy and Kasie’s intellect and instincts are tested. They negotiate for their lives.” (In the secondary story, the field agents investigate a crime that turns out to be linked to these perps.)

NCIS Season 17 Episode 19 Rocky Carroll Director

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

The two also appreciate the final emotional beat Carroll has added to the script. “We usually end on a happy note or with a punchline,” Dietzen explains. “He said, ‘Let’s pump the brakes. They need to process this trauma.'” Good call, Rocky.

NCIS, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS