Barrett Foa Spills on NCIS:LA’s Eric Beale

01405523Ever think of Eric Beale as a case’s key witness?  That’s exactly what he is on this week’s episode of NCIS:  Los Angeles.

Beale’s not only the key witness, but he winds up in jail for all his trouble.

Eric Beale a.k.a. Barrett Foa joined the team in the pilot of the series when it was introduced in Season Six of the ever-popular NCIS, in an episode entitled “Legend.”

Foa was excited about the role from the start.  When we spoke recently, he told me, “I do a lot of research.  In fact, when the show was first announced, I went on the real NCIS website and really scoured it.  I read every page of it.  I learned about what we do on the show, and it also gave me some real-life perspective in grounding.  I learned what the real NCIS does every day for our safety as citizens of this country.  I also visited the D.C headquarters and was welcomed with open arms.  They were so excited about the show.  It was interesting to just put real-life faces to the kind of role I portray in a world of fantasy on screen.

01113708“As for my character, when he was first introduced on NCIS, the show was still being formulated.  He was pretty straight laced.  Then, when we made it to series, he was a little more casual, was a surfer type, and wore flip flops and shorts, along with these crazy Hawaiian shirts.  It was really fun to play that kind of California-type character.  The changes really brought him to life for me.”

Foa also got the opportunity to work with Mark Harmon during the NCIS: Los Angeles’ two-part pilot episode.  He only had praise for the star, saying, “I didn’t work with Mark for that long, but he’s a leader, and he knows every person on the crew by name.  Of course, we shoot in a different location than the original NCIS, but whenever we do see that crew, they just welcome us with open arms.  And, we try to do the same.  I think that, just as Mark is a leader, Chris O’Donnell is our number one guy.  He and L.L. Cool J. are total pros.  They come to work prepared.  And that attitude trickles down to the rest of us in the production.  Also, we don’t shoot til like two in the morning.  We always go home and have dinner at normal times with our families.  That means a lot.  There’s a great work ethic.  We have a lot of fun on set too.  It’s a pretty spectacular balance.”

01120510Something Foa has in common with his counterpart is his computer savviness, if you will, through fan interaction.  Foa revealed, “I didn’t have a Twitter account when the show started, but not many people did.  We’ve been here five years, and I remember when we were first approached about getting Twitter accounts.  I wasn’t sure about it at first.  And, I’m so glad I did it now.  The interaction with the fans is so fantastic.  I love interacting with them and responding to them and announcing important things that might be happening that they might be interested in – and vice versa.  It has made me feel closer to people overseas, in Europe and South Africa and Australia, in a way that I never could be before.  Also, with Twitter, I can control how much or how little I’m going to let in that day, depending on how I feel, how busy I am, etc..”

On hiatus from the show, Foa has begun rehearsals for a one-act off-Broadway play in New York that should open in June or July.  He said, “It’s a 60-page monologue, and I play seven characters.  I’m very excited about it.  It’s pretty hilarious.”

01120817Foa, whose background is in the theatre, told me, “After a 10-month, 25-episode shooting schedule, it’s nice to do theatre and recharge my batteries.”

Now, about that March 25 episode of NCIS: Los Angeles,“Zero Days,” Beale gets a chance to get out in the field.  But, it’ not all fun and games for him.  Foa teased, “He has to get protection from the bullies out there.  He’s never seen action like this before, and it really rattles him in a funny kind of way.  There are a lot of scary, risky moments, definitely different from the OSP (Office of Special Projects) world that he’s used to.  He becomes a little bit of a Biker Beale sandwich when the bikers cozy up to him.  He ends up in jail, but Nell helps with that.  Then, she welcomes him home to the OSP world and headquarters.  It’s a nice feeling.”

01405108When asked how he might feel about exploring a romance with Nell, Foa said, “I think there’s something a little touchy with workplace romance.  You know, there would be some ramifications to letting that spill over.  That’s what holds them back.  But, breaking rules is what NCIS: Los Angeles is all about.  We set up those rules and then defy them.  So, who knows what’s going to happen.  I would love to see sort of a romance develop.  I think a little more flirtation is coming up in the pipeline for sure.”

The finale for NCIS: Los Angeles Season Five will air May 13.  The series, renewed for a sixth season, airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on CBS.