The scene began as Chris O’Donnell walked into Ops to assume his place around the table. The director, Steven DePaul called for action and we watched as the cast recited their lines from a unique camera angle. Cut! We watched again as the same scene was filmed from a new angle. It was fascinating to see the controlled chaos revolving around us. Makeup and hair artists scurried around the cast, technicians adjusted the lightening and prop masters put final touches on the set in between every take.
After a couple of takes, the members of the cast took a break and walked out of Ops. Suddenly I was surprised to see Eric Christian Olsen standing directly in front of me holding his hand out to say hello! Daniela Ruah and LL were close behind and we were delighted when Daniela welcomed us both with a huge hug! Chris joined them and we talked about how far we had traveled and Chris and Daniela thanked us for the special mugs we had created for each of the cast from the magazine covers.Before we knew it they were all called back into Ops to start filming again and Erin ushered us into a small area to continue watching the filming from a room that was built for the director and the other tech crew. The room was filled with multiple monitors that would capture the cast from all different angles. While there we had a chance to talk to Stephen DePaul (director), Diana Valentine (script supervisor), Brook Stenstrom (hair) and Chris Burgoyne (makeup) and a number of other technical staff who were constantly walking in and out of the room. It was a joy to talk to them all about their job and it was so amazing how warm and welcoming they all were towards us. We still had some more fun waiting for us when we heard Eric Christian Olsen calling for us from down the hall. We asked if he would take some pictures with us and Eric entertained us with stories about his really bad German accent in Beerfest (“Towards the end of the film, I sounded more Jamaican than German!”). Barrett Foa stopped by to say hi and luckily we had a chance to take a great picture with him and Chris before we had to leave. Unfortunately, we never did get to say hello to Renee Felice Smith (who was very busy in Ops) which was very disappointing but she sent us a very sweet tweet later to say hello.
Our final stop as we left the sound stage was outside in front of the front doors of the Mission. We noticed the condemned sign was missing, but we stopped to imagine Sam or Callen’s cars parked outside of these two giant doors. The space seemed smaller than it looks on screen but there have been some fun scenes filmed at this location especially the episode where Callen replaces Sam’s lost Charlene with a new Challenger. Great memories! It was a fitting ending to our visit.
The day was almost complete…but not yet! There was still one more special person we were looking forward to meet but he was missing in action! Dave Kalstein was on a set location visit and wouldn’t be returning to Paramount until 4 pm. Erin assured us if we could hang around a bit more he would like to meet us. How could we say no?! We had some lunch at the commissary, walked around the gift store and sat outside in the warm LA breeze to wait for Dave to join us. Before long we saw Dave walking up to greet us with a surprise guest in tow….Rafael Kayanan! What a treat to meet both Dave and Rafael and be able to sit down and talk to them about our visit and this wonderful show that we all have come to love so much. We talked about the new spin-off and about what made the franchise so successful and why it was so well- loved by all the fans. After signing a copy of his book for us to auction off for the ASPCA and a script for me to cherish, there were hugs all around and it was time to go.Two days later we completed our NCIS pilgrimage by walking to Hollywood and Vine in search of Mark Harmon’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Harmon received the 2,482nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 1, 2012. After taking the obligatory picture of Mark’s special star, we wondered if one day we would see an NCISLA star sharing that same honor. Fingers crossed!
What can I say? It was a fairy-tale week from start to finish. It took days for me to finally grasp all that happen on that visit. It was really very surreal and hard to comprehend that we got to visit with all these special people. A big thank you goes out to all the cast and crew for making our time in Los Angeles so memorable and enchanting. You guys are the best!