Portraying NCIS Director Leon Vance has been twice as nice for Rocky Carroll this TV season, now that his stern alter ego appears on both the original CBS megahit and its similarly popular spin-off, ‘NCIS; Los Angeles.’ On the eve of ‘NCIS’ marking a major milestone and ‘LA’ uncorking a “massive twist” – both shows return with new episodes on January 5 – Fancast invited Carroll to ponder the secret to the series’ success.
You must have enjoyed the recent Lee Wuan Kai arc that started on ‘NCIS: LA‘ and concluded on ‘NCIS.’
Yeah, that storyline was really cool. The fact that it existed between the two shows was pretty fun.
Plus, it’s always interesting to get these pieces of Vance’s backstory, to explore the skeletons from his closet.
I like it because when we introduced Vance at the end of Season 5, ‘NCIS’ was so well established and the characters so ingrained in the fans’ psyche, they knew what made everybody tick. Then they introduced this guy who was a question mark in a lot of ways.
Did you like that Vance’s wife was the one who wound up taking out Kelly Hu’s assassin?
I thought that was a great twist, because you expected Vance to do it or for Gibbs to fire a shot from 300 yards away. Vance’s wife has fired off more shots on ‘NCIS’ than Vance has!
Would you like more “at home” stories for the characters, or does the show already have the perfect formula?
I always repeat this quote of Mark Harmon’s: The real star of ‘NCIS’ is the agency. So yes, the formula has been great. It hasn’t been overdone, and when it is done it’s a welcome surprise.
Let’s talk about the 150th episode, airing January 12. Will it be a typical hour of ‘NCIS’?
Pretty much, but with a sort of twist in that you find out that there’s a strained relationship between DiNozzo and his dad (played by guest star Robert Wagner). That’s juxtaposed with solving another murder case. But 150 [episodes] is a pretty amazing milestone.
And it’s not just 150 episodes, but 150 and the show is perhaps stronger than ever.
That’s pretty incredible. It’s just crazy. I always joke with Mark Harmon, “Hey, we could run as long as ‘Gunsmoke.’ He just looks at me and rolls his eyes.
Do you wish Vance got to visit the ‘LA’ team in person more often?
There was an episode where Linda Hunt came to Washington, so I guess I owe her a visit now…. I do wish we could find away for Vance to travel there a bit more, but then you risk overkill.
Shane Brennan told TV Guide Magazine that ‘NCIS: LA’ has a “shocking arc with a massive twist” coming up later this season. Have you heard anything?
I have not. What I like about my relationship with Shane Brennan is there’s a real glint in his eye. From Day 1, when I came on as a four-episode guest star, I got the sense from him that I should just hang on for the ride. I don’t pump him for information, but sometimes he’ll look at me with a twinkle in his eye and say, “We’ve got something big coming up.” He’s just as covert with us as he is with the fans. It’s like ‘Mission: Impossible’ – “Your mission today, should you choose to accept it….” These shows are not a chore or a labor for Shane; he truly enjoys taking the audience and the people who work on the show for this incredible ride.