Daniela Ruah previews a “scary” new NCIS: LOS ANGELES: “It’s really high-energy”
Tuesday’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, now in its fifth season, promises a bit of excitement, to say the least, and I was recently fortunate enough to get the scoop firsthand from Daniela Ruah (Special Agent Kensi Blye).
When we last left Kensi, she was still being held in a cave by the Taliban, and she had come face-to-face with former fiancé from nine years previous, Jack Simon (Matthew Del Negro). A remaining question in her mind was whether or not Jack was the “white ghost” an American turncoat she had been huntng when she went off the grid and was subsequently captured.
On this week’s episode, Callen, Sam, and Deeks ( Chris O’Donnell, L.L. Cool, J., and Eric Christian Olsen) go in search of Kensi to save her and bring her home.
When we spoke, I wanted to know, first of all, how Ruah could get herself into the frame of mind to play such an energy-charged part as seen in the last few episodes with Kensi and Jack. She said, “You know how you somehow feel emotionally attached to something you read in a book, even if it’s never happened to you? I think it’s a little bit like that. You read it, and even though you’ve never been through it before, you just feel it. I don’t think there’s any sort of magic trick or special formula to get into a scene. It really depends on the writing and the moment, all that stuff. As a whole, after I’ve played this character for so long, it just becomes like second nature – minus the aggression.
“I think we probably have a relatively light-hearted show in general. There’s a lot of sort of comedic parts and we delve into the characters’ personal lives here and there. So, when we do scenes like this, really juicy scenes that go into the characters’ pasts, that go into the darker side of the characters, it’s so juicy and there’s such a methodic buildup to it.”
Kensi, as viewers know, has had a turbulent past with the murder of her father, followed by her life on the street, prior to joining NCIS. Then, there was the love of her life and his unexplained loss through Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and his quest to find the missing pieces of his life without Kensi. All of it had to have an impact on her life. What could Kensi be really feeling about Jack? Trust? Doubt? Fear? Ruah told me, “I think she’s very hard-headed in general. And I think she’s probably always had this impending sensation of, ‘if I had just done a little bit more, could I have saved him from being jerked around.’ And, then he talks about being married and finding true happiness for himself. I think for her it’s like, ‘I really really wonder if I could have brought this happiness to him had it been better circumstances – if I had tried a little bit harder.’ But it’s not really about her, it’s about him. At the same time, I think she loved him enough that she would have done anything to help him even as he left her. There’s a huge sense of personal failure in that. And the fact that he kind of moved on with somebody else is really painful to hear. She doesn’t know, in fact, if Jack is the white ghost or if he’s not the white ghost. There’s also a lot of fear. ‘Am I gonna die overseas? Am I never gonna see my friends and family again?’ I think there’s a lot going on with her.
“We don’t know her emotional attachment to Jack when we first see him. All we know is what she said about him and herself and the past. She didn’t take the shot when she had a chance to kill him. She was like, ‘what the hell is he doing?’ She’s trying to figure it out.”
Always the most challenging aspect of playing Kensi for Ruah has been just “making it real.” She had met Del Negro only a few days before they began acting together in very emotionally-charged scenes. She confided, “It’s challenging to make the audience go with you and understand you, whether they agree with you or not. You want people to be on your side, I suppose. And, it’s challenging to play a role and make the audience believe this was the guy you loved more than anyone else, when in reality you basically just met him.
“I don’t think I’d change anything about Kensi, though. I love who she is. I love her strength. I think it’s pretty funny when she’s defensive. Nobody’s perfect. She’s got her issues. But, she tries to resolve them. I think if she were real, we’d probably be friends. I think we have a lot of personality traits that are similar. I don’t tackle bad guys or shoot bad guys, though. I think there’s so much of me in her and her in me that, when it comes to character, it’s a quick in-and-out of it. When you’ve played a character for so long, it’s almost impossible not to let yourself get into that character.”
The remaining question is, ‘What’s going to happen to Kensi?’ Will she put up a wall around this part of her life?
Ruah is just as anxious for this answer as the rest of us, since creator/executive producer Shane Brennan plays it close to the vest when it comes to revealing upcoming episodes. Ruah could reveal, though, that Tuesday’s episode “Spoils of War” is “really high-energy from beginning to end, and scary.”
The episode airs on April 1 on CBS at 9/8c.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.