If you enjoyed the two episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles” that delved into Special Agent G. Callen’s (Chris O’Donnell) mysterious past, you won’t want to miss the next two episodes of the CBS drama. In them, the book is opened on the life-changing incident that had the biggest effect on shaping Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) into the woman/agent she is today: the mysterious death of her father.
Kensi doesn’t talk much about her dad, so her team doesn’t know all the details of his death. Was it an accident as it was ruled at the time, or was it really a cold-blooded murder?
“She never believed it was an accident,” Ruah says. “She always felt that there was something more to the story. She thought her dad might have been murdered. She doesn’t know why. These episodes are going to tie up the loose ends of her father’s story, her history and all that jazz.”
So, when the special agent is taken into custody as the lead suspect in a murder investigation involving a former colleague of her father’s from his sniper unit, Callen, Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) and Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) spring into action to clear her name.
In this exclusive interview, Ruah weighs in on Kensi’s unique relationship with Deeks, what her motivation could have been for joining NCIS, getting to do all the kick-ass stunts and more.
How much of who she is do you feel is because of her relationship with her father and his death?
So much of her wanting to solve her father’s case — if there is a case — we don’t know that until we are further ahead into the episodes — defines her in such a way that it made her join NCIS. If her motive behind joining NCIS is not that she just wants to be agent then that also puts the whole team in question because was she working for her own motives and not the team and the greater good? There is a lot about her life and what makes her tick that is explained.
Even if she has an ulterior motive, she still has been a very productive member of the team.
Of course she has, but we never know to what extent people have second intentions behind things. Her father’s death was a big drive in her life and made her make big decisions. She could have gone to the CIA or the FBI. She could have gone to organizations that are bigger — she was the best in her class — but she chose NCIS very specifically. [These two episodes are] quite a voyage for Kensi. It is quite a voyage of internal turmoil and unresolved [issues]. It was really great to play Kensi in these two episodes. Lots of emotional roller coasters.
Will you be a part of the action?
As we have seen in the promo, I have become a person of interest in the murder of one of the men who was in my father’s sniper unit. Whether I am guilty or not, I will not tell you. I will say that they take me into custody and they won’t let me talk to my team.
Does Deeks have her back on this? They have a unique relationship. Sometimes I think they enjoy working together; others not so much. What is your take on that relationship?
I think it is a relationship like two human beings who are really attracted to each other but know it probably would not be a healthy thing for anyone, especially their jobs, if they got together. So, there is definitely an attraction. I think over time, they have gained this unconditional care for each other, whether that be brotherly or sexual or romantic or just friendly. Regardless of that, they care for each very much so much so that every time something happens to Deeks or to Kensi, the other one steps in immediately and tries to help them and tries to get the rest of the team to help them. We will never leave our partner behind. It is not just the principle. I definitely think they have a love for each other, whatever kind of love this may be. And of course, this whole part 1 and part 2 affects their relationship very much. Again in the promo, Deeks is the one who has to bring her in and she knows that is going to be hard for him. She knows that that is the last thing he wants to do.
But he also wants to know her secrets.
He does. I don’t know if it is just out of curiosity. I think he genuinely cares. He knows this has been a big thing in her life. She doesn’t talk about her father all that much. In a previous episode, he has said, “You don’t talk about your dad.”
They threw in a cameo appearance by real-life NCIS Director Mark D. Clookie? Did you get to work with him? What was it like to have him on the set?
It was so, so nice. It is an honor to have people in his position think that we are a good enough representation of people like him for him to come on the show and be a part of it. I think that is a big compliment to the show, to the writers and to the way the whole team has come together. If we were terrible, I doubt he would have wanted to be a part of it. It was a great honor to have him on the show. I think he was a little nervous. He was quiet. We were in the same scene, but there were so many of us, we didn’t get to exchange any lines.
What is it like to be the only female with three male agents?
It feels as if I were the younger sister in a group of three brothers and one sister. I go between feeling highly protected by these guys, getting wonderful advice from them, knowing who to turn to if I have questions about life, about real estate, about cooking, about anything really, they all have such different interests, it is wonderful. But I am also the younger sister who gets picked on. I love it. I love that I can snap back at them if I have to and a minute later, no one is offended. I think you become a family. They were all so much more experienced than I was with working here in the United States. I have learned a lot from them. It is nice. You get that bit of attention more than anyone else because you are the only girl.
Were you a tomboy growing up so all the kick-ass action that Kensi is a part of comes naturally to you?
I grew up as a tomboy. I still liked the feminine things. I had my Barbies. I had some dresses, but essentially, I was jeans and T-shirts. I cut my hair off when I was about 14 years old to my mother’s chagrin. She was, “Don’t do it. It will take years to grow back.” And it did. I grew up with a majority of male friends. Of course, I did have some girlfriends. In terms of the physical activity and the fighting that is required, I think it is a mixture of me being maybe a little feisty and me loving it. I love playing that tough character. I know I can do other things, but I love this character. It is so much fun and I have learned so much working with our stunt coordinator and fighters. They work with me and they let me come to their location where they train and they let me train with them even though I don’t have any scenes that require that. They still work with me. I remember being about 8 years old and doing a backward somersault going down the steps of my aunt’s house because I thought that one day, if I became an actress, I would need to know how to fall down stairs. For liability reasons, they never let me do that on the show, but the fact is, it has been a little bug inside of me for a long time.
So you knew you wanted to be an actress even that young?
You know what is funny? I grew up more focused on dance. I danced six days a week and one day a week, I had acting classes growing up. So I have always loved it and I have always loved being in front of an audience and being on stage. It started off being dance, but when I was 16 years old, I got my first part in a Portuguese telenovela. It made me wonder if acting was actually the way to go. At 16 was when I really made my choice. I wondered: What can I do for the rest of my life? I can act for the rest of my life, but I can only dance until a certain age. Because of biological and physical reasons, you have to stop. So, I chose to go for acting out of the two.
What is it like on set between takes? Are you guys practical jokers? The gym and basketball court are not too far from your stage?
We don’t go work out between takes because it is such a short period of time. We just linger on set, but there is definitely a lot of joking around that happens. Practical jokes occasionally. Not the little jokes. Things that take more time to plan. It is a great environment. We play around. Sometimes we don’t do ourselves any good by doing that because then we crack up half way through the scene and start laughing and nobody knows why except the two or three people involved in that joke and we blow the scene for everyone else. But that is rare.