The panel confirmed the shooting schedule is eight working days. The working hours within the actors union is a strict twelve hours (e.g. 6am – 6pm) and if they go over that threshold, they cannot start work the next day until a further twelve hours has elapsed (e.g. the next day would have to be 7am – 7pm). This pushes the schedule back and some new shows may not finish shooting until 2am on a Saturday, so the Friday becomes a “Fratterday” as Barrett said. NCISLA have tight schedules so everyone has their weekends and well rounded lives. Barrett put this down to luck, that many of their directors started off on NCIS and are familiar with tight schedules, and this helps contribute to the success of the NCIS franchise.
All three representatives from NCIS/LA are very keen on the idea of crossovers, with a fan referencing the LA crossover with Hawaii 5-0. Barrett was genuinely pleased and amazed at the question, as it demonstrates to him how big the show is outside the US, that here in the UK we know these details. Apart from social media, they don’t really have a sense of the show’s success. Renee found the Hawaii 5-0 cross over a great opportunity to see how other actors work; Scott Caan is very minimal in everything he does with his face. But Barrett added that on camera he looks completely alive. Renee described Scott Caan as “a really cool guy, like the coolest guy at high school that all the girls are in love with and all the guys want to be, and he kind of knows it”. At this point Barrett mimicked Scott combing his hair back to form a quiff. Barrett is keen for NCISLA to work with H50 so they can have holidays in Hawaii, as Chris, LL and Daniela have all filmed there. Renee too, was particularly enthusiastic about this crossover as she has never been to Hawaii. All three enjoy the authenticity the New Orleans show has, from filming on location there.
Eventually, someone asked a Callen question, wondering what the panel thought Callen’s first name is. Renee joked “Geronimo”, Barrett laughed that it could be some Italian/Russian name. On a more serious note, Renee thought it will be a traditional Russian name, at which point Barrett interrupted with “Gary” – repeatedly.
Another member of the audience questioned how the panel coped with the constant publicity. It’s new to Emily, who finds it all rather scary. Renee was introduced to Instagram through NCISLA and it’s a platform she now loves, using it to share photos, mainly of her dogs. For the show they promote episodes which are happening and share exciting moments at work. Barrett enjoys the fan interaction via social media as they rarely get to meet fans (events such as Comic Con are few and far between). The cast tend to do more CBS driven publicity with internet interaction. Barrett thanked NCISLA fans for being sane, so the actors can go to the supermarket and live normal lives.
There is no competition between the actors to be last in shot before the shutters (prior to ad breaks), as the cast have no idea how the shots that comprise the scene will be edited. Eric Christian Olsen does always manage to get in the last word of every scene he is in, whether it is in the script or not. Emily commented that Michael Weatherly is very similar.
When asked if his character could have a relationship with another character, who would it be, Barrett replied without hesitation ‘Hetty’, which gained a laugh from the audience. Renee then added that she knows some fans are calling for a Nell/Callen relationship. Barratt put it out to the crowd to raise hands if we wanted that to happen. The was not a great response to this, however a several girls at the back did raise their hands. Barrett placed Renee on the spot, asking if she wanted or was ready for Nell/Callen. Renee dodged the question and tried to deflect this back to Barrett who requested the audience to tweet that Renee has a secret crush on COD. Emily’s character Bishop is married and tends to have a brotherly relationship with all the males. Barrett and Renee tried to suggest she could have a relationship with Brian Dietzen (Jimmy Palmer) with an illicit rendezvous in the morgue, on the cold slabs…
Barrett would love to go on the LL Cool J hosted Lip Sync Battle and Renee suggested an NCIS vs NCISLA battle which again got a cheer from the audience. Running through their fellow cast, it was established that Michael Weatherly would enjoy it, Daniela would be in to it (she won Portugal’s Dancing with the Stars – videos are on line). Renee confirmed Barrett’s musical theatre background and that she was a dancer growing up. Eric Christian Olsen can actually sing for real but he likes to fake it, saying that he can only sing goofily. Chris O’Donnell is constantly singing hits from the 70s when they’re filming in Ops and enjoys karaoke. Miguel Ferrer would also be up for it – he’s the son of Rosemary Clooney who was a huge star with classic hit songs. The three actors urged fans to write in so it can be set up. Barrett was in the original cast of Mamma Mia and a fan asked if he would ever sing a song in NCISLA. Renee revealed he did start singing the US National Anthem but it was cut from the scene – cue Barrett singing snippets from Mamma Mia! And on that note (pun intended), the Q&A session came to a close.
The signings were scheduled for later that afternoon and by a stroke of luck there was barely any queue to buy autograph tickets, although a crowd of people waiting in the autograph area. Unsure of the exact process, I purchased one ticket for Barrett’s autograph and eventually my son and I were in a surprisingly short queue. When our turn came, we hesitantly approached (star-struck & shy) but Barratt was an absolute gentleman; very charming, friendly and funny. There were a choice of four photos that Barrett could sign, and I picked one with Nell, Eric, Callen and Hetty, with a request that Barrett did not sign across Callen’s face. Barrett commented on how my son and I were so cute together, as we ‘debated’ this subject (with my son wanting Barrett to write over Callen’s face). The compromise was the word ‘blob’ written over Callen’s arm!
I asked if he had any plans to live tweet the season finale which would air in the UK the following night at 10pm, but Barrett had to be up at 3am the following morning for his flight. However he did confirm that he and Renee had just completed the DVD commentary on Traitor, where Eric is taken hostage by the mole. With a quick photo taken by the lovely lady in the queue behind us (thank you, and thank you for your patience), our time was up.
There was another Q&A on the Sunday which covered strong women in TV & Film (both Renee and Emily were part of the panel), and it was a shame this was not on the schedule for Saturday. The NCIS franchises do seem to specialise in strong women; just look at NCISLA season 6 finale for evidence.
The NCIS Q&A and meeting Barrett Foa made Comic Con a special day, although the intense confusion and poor organisational skills from MCM Comic Con did put a dampener on the experience. It would be fantastic if some of the other NCIS/LA actors came over to Comic Con London in the future (Barrett and Renee also attended two years ago). Maybe Eric Christian Olsen can reschedule a visit with Daniela Ruah? Or hell CBS, just fly over the entire cast and Shane Brennan! Sometimes it’s more insightful to hear what the writers, producers and directors have to say, alongside the stars…
— Sara (@IFeelPossessed) May 23, 2015