NCISLA Fans Sara & Liam meet Barrett at MCM London Comic Con (Pt.1/2)

The MCM London Comic Con 2015 took place at the Excel Exhibition Centre from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th May. The convention features a variety of stars from various mediums; TV, film, anime, manga, and gaming, however it was the scheduled appearance of Eric Christian Olsen AKA Deeks that persuaded my son and I to buy tickets and see what Comic Con was all about. Unfortunately for us, Eric pulled out a few weeks beforehand, but Barrett Foa (Eric), Renee Felice Smith (Nell) and Emily Wickershaw (Ellie Bishop in NCIS) were all set to appear. So, pleased that our NCIS obsession could still be sated, we eagerly looked forward to the Saturday.

After a fraught train journey (our train terminate at a station half way there, with the new train stopping at every single station in between), we eventually arrived. The closer to East London, the greater the sights from cosplayers – and from the moment we arrived at the Excel centre, we seemed to be in the minority; most adults were dressed as their favourite fictional characters and the accuracy and dedication to these costumes was astounding. Everyone was unleashing their inner geek or fetishes – or both!

Once inside, the place was heaving with the sell out crowd and the temperature soared – no air conditioning at the centre then?! Earlier that morning, I’d realised there were various Q&A sessions throughout the day, so our first task was to orientate ourselves so we knew where find the 2pm NCIS session. Theatre B it was and that was easy to find, however we could not locate the theatre where the Arrow Q&A session had already commenced. Cutting our losses on that one, we wandered aimlessly until it was time to head towards theatre B. We took some central seats towards the back and enjoyed the artistic genius of an anime artist until the NCIS team of three arrived on stage shortly after 2pm.

Barrett, Renee and Emily were introduced by the MC, who started the event by asking the first question about how it felt at the time, becoming part of a massive franchise that originated from JAG, spawning NCIS, then Los Angeles and most recently New Orleans. Emily spoke first and admitted she was scared and a little intimidated as the show reaches so many people across the world, but the cast she joined were so sweet and welcoming to her. Barrett shared that he also went into the franchise with a little hesitation, as he started out as a guest star in season one for twelve episodes, and then in the thirteenth episode he was made a series regular. He felt more settled at that point – “they like me, they like me”! Renee said she honestly did not know much about NCIS the original as she watches a lot of comedy, cartoons and sometimes children’s programmes. But she has come to learn that “it’s a kind of work place comedy, so to speak, with some occasional explosions”. “And car flips” Barrett added.

A young girl from the audience asked the first question from the floor; what was their favourite episode? Barrett’s favourite is the Christmas episode from season four, where he and Nell “locked lips”. Renee admitted she still has the elf ears and they are the first prosthetics she’s ever worn. The two reminded the audience and themselves that Nell made Eric wear tights, but the fans never saw that as it happened off screen. But there was definitely an internal struggle as Eric wanted to wear them for Nell, but then again he didn’t want to as he did not want the ridicule of LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell (“as no one wants that”). Renee’s favourite episode is from season six, when she went undercover as Hetty. She wore a wig and they made her a suit; incidentally all Linda Hunt’s suits are custom made.

Emily was asked if she could be any other character in NCIS (apart from Delilah), who would she be? She responded by saying she would be DiNozzo; serious but mostly goofing around a lot. DiNozzo, she admitted, “is the best”. The next question related to change and was directed initially to Emily. She thought it was wonderful that the characters of Ziva and Bishop are so different and was aware that some fans didn’t like Bishop. She said “it’s great and encouraging” that she’s seen fans coming to like Bishop. She confirmed that Mark [Harmon] is not scary but Gibbs is a little, with his head slap and super straight face; “Mark is a sweetheart”. Barrett commented that on his show, when Renee came in (season 2), it was tough as people don’t like change – it takes time, with adjustment periods.

If Barrett could be any other character from another NCIS show, he would be CCH Pounder (NCIS New Orleans). Emily commented the character is cool, calm and collected, although Barrett just likes the name and offered to give her Barrett instead. Emily likes how Scott Bakula sounds and the way he pulls his sunglasses off, not a Caruso sunglass removal, Renee added, at which point Barrett said that CIS and NCIS frequently get confused. Renee would like to be the lab-coated Pauley Perrette AKA Abby Sciuto from NCIS as Pauley’s Abbey is a heightened version of a lab worker. On the LA show, they play closer to themselves and there is no super characterisation going on. Renee believes it would be fun to have those costumes and play a Goth girl.

A member of the audience spoke to Renee about how her character was developing by venturing out in the field, but there seems to be some hesitation from her. Shane Brennan [showrunner], said to Renee from the start that Nell would grow over time; she is a junior field agent who will always be an intelligence analyst but will also work in the field. That is what the audience is seeing, that gradually over time Nell is getting more experience in the field. Nell is a trained agent who knows
how to carry a gun. She may not get much action but when she does, Nell does know what she’s doing. Over time Renee is confident that Nell will be seen in the field again, although as they only get the scripts a maximum of three days in advance to shooting, they never know what’s coming up. Barrett admitted he would like Eric to venture out in to the streets of LA in a bright green Lamborghini – at which point he asked someone to draw that and tweet him – but as long as there were no car flips!

The next question covered which shows outside of the NCIS franchise the actors would like to appear in; Emily would love to be on Modern Family and True Detective, citing the latter as a fun and creepy show to be on. Barrett enjoys Parks & Recreation, and Renee is a big New Girl fan, so much so that she would accept any role on it – a neighbour, walking the dog…

Emily confirmed there is always a bit of themselves in the characters they play on NCIS. She shares determination and loyalty with Bishop, although Bishop is very smart and Emily herself dropped out of college. Nell admitted she has no technical skills at all and cannot even update her IOS on her iPhone 5c. She receives text messages full of aliens as she doesn’t have the latest emojis, and even asked the audience for assistance, admitting she is not Nell Jones. Barrett is better than Renee in the technical arena and did admit that he has never shut down any Government agencies…

An interesting question was asked about how Nell and Eric’s relationship has developed since Humbug, when Nell invited Eric to stay with her family for Christmas as her boyfriend. Barrett revealed this was partially addressed in a Dave Kalstein penned episode (presumably Expiration Date). There is a deleted scene where Nell is sharpening a knife (yes, definitely a Kalstein episode), clearly upset about something that happened at her parent’s house. Nell finally tells Eric that her great aunt was rather upset about some noises she heard coming from the bedroom. Neither Renee or Barrett have any idea if this will make it on to the season 6 DVD as an extra. This makes me wonder how many other scenes containing snippets/reveals that Shane Brennan previously teased fans about, have ended up on the cutting room floor…

Thanks to Sara aka “I Feel Possessed” and her son Liam for this first part of their MCM London Comic Con story. Be sure to come back later for the second part and check Sara out on Twitter and

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