‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Director Diana Valentine on the Fun of Working With New Characters

NCIS New Orleans Season 6 Episode 19 Director Preview
Sam Lothridge/CBS

If you’ve watched any of the NCIS shows or Criminal Minds, chances are you’ve seen an episode directed by Diana Valentine. She stepped behind the camera for NCIS: New Orleans for the first time for Sunday’s episode.

“It was great fun. I got to work with a drone … and the Coast Guard,” she told TV Insider. “There was quite a bit of action in it, so that was all great.”

“Monolith” will see NCIS racing to find a missing woman and her abductors — Sebastian (Rob Kerkovich) is injured when he attempts to prevent the kidnapping but fails — but also offer a peek into the personal life of the newest member of the team, Agent Carter (Charles Michael Davis).

“He was great,” Valentine said of working with Davis and added that she likes exploring new additions on shows. “You can have more fun with it because the character’s not so well-defined as the characters in the show for all those other years.”

NCIS Los Angeles Season 11 Episode Callen Anna The Circle

Callen and Anna in NCIS: LA‘s “The Circle”(Monty Brinton/CBS)

She also directed recent episodes of NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, and for both, she got to do a bit of romance. “I hadn’t really gotten to do so much [of that] before,” she shared. “I did a little bit on Better Angels, but that was much more of an emotional episode than [LA‘s] ‘The Circle’ was.” That episode brought Anna (Bar Paly) back into Callen’s (Chris O’Donnell) life.

And she’d served as a script supervisor on LA, allowing her to have “a shorthand” with the cast and crew. “You have a relationship that’s already built in, you have a trust that’s built in. It’s a lot of fun,” she explained. “There’s not any kind of having to get to know somebody, which you do when you direct other shows, so it’s like being with your family.”

She also had fun with NCIS‘ “Ephemera,” as did everyone involved. “All the actors got to play something other than they were normally playing, so they all embraced it, they all got into it, and I think they all really enjoyed just the chance to do something different after so many years,” Valentine said.

She also knows that a group of fans rooting for a romance between certain characters enjoyed it. “Even though it’s not Bishop and Torres getting together — because they’re playing Art and Annie — it was great for the fans to see the romance and the flirting between them,” she added.

NCIS Season 17 Episode Ephemera Bishop Torres Dance

Torres and Bishop as Art and Annie in NCIS‘ “Ephemera” (Michael Yarish/CBS)

In directing procedurals, she’s shooting what she likes. “I enjoy watching [the genre],” Valentine shared. “I like mysteries. When I read books, which has been a lot lately, I read thrillers and mysteries and all that kind of stuff.”

She’s also “a horror genre buff,” which was why she enjoyed her work on Criminal Minds. “Along with the straight procedural of it, you also got to do the serial killing aspect of it,” she explained. “You got to do a little movie within the procedural when you were dealing with that part of the story.”

She directed seven episodes of the CBS procedural that ended its run after 15 years in February, including one in the final season (“Ghost”). Doing so was “bittersweet,” she admitted, “because we did my last episode tacked onto Season 14, so knowing it was going to be over, working with such great people and great actors was very sad.”

NCIS: New Orleans, Sundays, 10/9c, CBS