At the beginning of Season Four it was announced that the show would be introduced to a new and recurring character, and there was a lot of speculation by the fans on who this mystery person was and how the relationship would affect the team and in particular, Kensi. In the The Fifth Man (4×03) we finally get to meet Astrid, played by the charming and talented Abbie Cobb. NCIS:LA Magazine was delighted to get to spend some time with Cobb for this special interview.
Abbie Cobb grew up in Nebraska and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actor. She comes to NCIS: Los Angeles with an impressive and long list of credits to her name. Despite her age, the young actress has been in the business for a long time, so we wanted to find out more about her background and how she took her first steps in becoming an actor.
It’s been a very busy year for you! But let’s start from the beginning…. What drew you to this profession and why?
Yes, it’s been a really big year for me and I’m so excited about the things that are happening! I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. I’ve geared my studies and classes for this career but there is a passion for it I think I was just born with. You know how sometimes singers just open their mouth with no training at all and they simply have it, like Adele, and you are jealous because it comes so natural for them? Well, I can’t sing but the one thing that comes to me naturally is acting, and I feel so lucky that I was given the opportunity to be able to earn a living doing what I love!
How did you get started in the business?
I started auditioning for plays back in elementary, junior high and high school. Every chance I got, I begged my parents to let me audition and I think this gave me the experience and confidence I needed to make the move to the professional world out here in Los Angeles.
The cool thing about looking young and playing young is that you have the ability to plug into networks like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. I got really lucky and was thrown into the Disney machine and cycled around doing different guest spots on shows and movies that really helped build up my resume. Disney takes pride in wanting to help you grow and make you better using everything you bring to the table for the benefit of the channel—on a variety of shows, not just one!
You can play a great ‘mean girl’ but you have the ability to play a very sweet, likeable character as well. One of the things that makes an actor great is being able to make the viewer forget that they are watching a piece of film or play because it seems so real on the screen and the audience is able to get carried away… and you are able to do that really well!
Well thank you! I don’t know why I have the mean girl thing down, but almost all of my characters are mean ones. I don’t know if it’s the “sweet on the outside, mean on the inside” thing going on, but I hope people understand that I’m not like that in real life—I hope that I’m far from it! There have been a few roles where I have been able to branch outside of that stereotype and NCIS:LA is one of them… so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to do something different from what I usually do.
It also looks like you are going to get to play a different type of character on your upcoming Lifetime movie Teenage Bank Heist that will be premiering in November?
Yes, I get to play the victim in this one! I play Maeve Quinlan’s daughter in the film and found that it’s really fun to play the same role every single day over a period of a few months. It’s an action packed drama and I think viewers are really going to enjoy it. It airs November 9th on the Lifetime Movie Network.
You’re already an accomplished actor, public speaker and author. Out of all these different areas of the entertainment industry, which do you prefer and why?
Acting is my first love. I feel so blessed to make a living at it and I really appreciate it. I think a lot of people who become series regulars and full time actors in film appear to have lost their appreciation for it, and I hope that never happens to me. I have so many friends who haven’t caught a break in this town and they are insanely talented, so I thank God every day and am so grateful—I hope that I can act until the day I die!
After acting, I think teaching is my second passion. I sort of fell into a position of coaching and teaching workshops, and I’ve fallen in love with encouraging people who want to be in the industry. It thrills me to help people of all ages, from all walks of life, figure out how to get into acting and give it a shot!
You’ve written a book entitled Stuck on a Ferris Wheel for people who are interested in becoming working actors in Los Angeles. What compelled you to write this guide?
I don’t want people to make the mistakes I made when I first started—I want them to avoid some of the pitfalls of working in the industry! After I started working regularly, I was flooded with messages and emails asking the same questions and I realized there was not enough information out there. People would constantly be asking me, “How did you get your agent? How did you get your start? Am I too old to pursue this or too young? What should a headshot look like?” I was overwhelmed with the number of emails that were flooding my inbox and I started taking hours out of my day trying to respond to them. I could never possibly get to everyone, so I ended up creating this tool, this book. This way I can reach many more people and it’s a lot faster! I have been getting great feedback and I’m very proud of it. I tell some pretty embarrassing stories in the book but it makes you laugh and teaches you what to do and what to say—and more importantly what not to do. (Please go to Abbie’s website to find out more on how to get a copy of her book: www.abbiecobb.com)
You have an impressive list of guest roles in some very popular TV shows from 90210 to Two and a Half Men, to True Blood. Does anyone of them stand out in particular?
Longmire, blew my mind. It’s a new detective western on A&E. It’s a fantastic show with a fantastic cast and my role was really fun! I played a girl who went a little bit crazy and it was the most physically demanding part I’ve ever had. I was out in the Santa Fe desert where it was freezing at night and really hot during the day, was tied to the railroad tracks with barbed wire, had blood and special effect makeup all over—what an experience! But it was so much fun to do something so difficult and so physically challenging, I loved it.
On The Fifth Man, we are introduced to the show’s new character, Astrid. In the second part of our interview with Abbie Cobb we get to ask more questions about her new role and find out what it was like behind the scenes on the set of NCIS Los Angeles.
In the first part of this interview, you spoke about some of the difficult roles you’ve had in the past. Speaking of difficult, can you tell us a little bit about Astrid and your new recurring role on NCIS Los Angeles?
This is one of the most challenging and exciting roles I’ve had. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever done on camera and I’m absolutely thrilled to explore this role! Normally on other shows where I get to play someone superficial and mean, it’s fun but it’s not necessarily a challenge. With Astrid, I get to do a lot of character work, character study, and explore different ways I can play the character and hold my body and say my lines. She’s so different and I’m glad she’s returning because I fell in love with Astrid! It’s not determined when she will be back but I’m excited that she’s not going away.
My character is a high functioning autistic teen and that’s what makes her so unique and fun to explore. In trying to prepare for a role like that, I’ve realized she is the most interesting character I’ve ever played. In the episode, her uniqueness and family background bring Kensi and Astrid together… that’s another reason to love the character—she has such a cool story!
What was your experience like on the set of NCIS Los Angeles?
They were so great! From the very top executive positions to the very bottom of the production chain, they were all classy and kind, excited about their job, and excited that you were there. It’s such a rare find! I’ve never had an experience like that where everyone you interact with is pleasant and loves their job until I walked on the set of NCIS:LA. The actors were so incredible and welcoming and they were so kind when they didn’t have to be. I’m just here to help move the story along, so when people go out of their way to interact with you and make you feel welcome and help you do your job, it just shows their true character as a human being. The experience was awesome.
Who did you work with?
I met everyone at the table read and filmed with everyone except Barrett and Renee. I spent the most time with Daniela.
You were also lucky to be in an episode written by Dave Kalstein, one of our favorite writers on the show.
He was awesome. I loved spending time with him and I think he’s super talented and I loved what he came up with!
Anything special happen on set with the cast you can talk about?
Before one of the scenes, Todd (LL Cool J) and I were walking through the set of the casino and people were calling to him from way across the casino floor… “I love you so much, you are so beautiful, you’re amazing!” There was an elderly lady with a walker, who had to be at least eighty years old, who shouted to him, “OOOoo! I love your body!” I laughed so hard…and I can’t imagine being around that everywhere you go! All in a day’s work for him.
I did get to meet the stars’ mothers who guest starred on the show, too. There were these huge trailers set up for them! The producers went out of their way to spoil them and I’m glad they did. It seemed like they had a really good time.
We want to know what’s up next for Abbie Cobb! Can you tell us about your next project and when your fans can expect to see you on film or TV again?
I have a cool role in a new movie called The Umbrella Man and I’m super excited about it. I’ve been describing it as a conspiracy theory drama… JFK with Kevin Costner meets Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman. It’s a modern 2012 story but I’m playing a young Jackie Kennedy-type character. We’re shooting now in Pittsburgh and Dallas.
I’m still recurring on Suburgatory, and the Secret Life of the American Teenager, and I have recurred recently on another show that I have guest starred on in the past but I can’t say what show until it airs!
Thanks Abbie for taking the time to speak with NCIS:LA Magazine! It was a pleasure to get to know you and find out more about your career and your time spent on the set. Abbie has promised to update us in the future when she returns to the role of Astrid on NCIS:LA.
If you want to find out more about her book and her future projects, please go to Abbie’s web site: www.abbiecobb.com. You can also find her on Twitter: @thelovelyabs and on Facebook: Abbie Cobb Fan Page.