A Chat with Pauley Perrette, Pauley Perrette interview, NCIS, Abby Sciuto
Alfonso Ribeiro

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It has been said of Pauley Perrette, who plays Abby Sciuto on CBS’s long-running Tuesday night drama, “NCIS,” that the character of Abby is actually a toned-down version of the real Pauley. Ms. Perrette herself does not believe this to be true, but it’s possible she may be a bit too close to the subject to be able to see the resemblance. All I’m saying is that I have met her on two occasions, and while I offer the caveat that I’m speaking of network-sponsored events where you would expect her to be on her best behavior, both encounters nonetheless left me thoroughly convinced that, at the very least, the smiling, heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors sweetness that you see on the small screen very much translates from character to actress and back again. As such, it was a pleasure for me to speak with Pauley again, this time in conjunction with the airing of “Silent Night,” the very Abby-centric Christmas episode of “NCIS” which will run on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m. (Eastern). Don’t worry, though: we discussed more than just the holidays.

Pauley Perrette: Hi, Will! How are you?

Bullz-Eye: Hi, Pauley! I’m good!

PP: Awesome!

BE: Good to talk to you again.

PP: Good to talk to you, too! How’s your wife?

BE: (Laughs) I was actually just going to tell you that my wife says, “Hello.”

PP: Tell her I said, “Hi!”

BE: I most certainly will. So I’ve gotten into the habit of changing my Facebook status to indicate who I’m going to be interviewing on a given day, and when I indicated that I’d be talking to you, I had male and female friends alike who were jealous of me.

PP: (Laughs) You know, I’m not on Facebook, but I hear about it a lot!

BE: Well, I watched the Christmas episode, thanks to Katie (the wonderful publicist for “NCIS”) hooking me up…

On the similarities between Pauley and Abby: “Unless I play a character where I’m wearing thrift-store flannel pajamas, sitting on the couch with my dogs, drinking beer and watching television? I mean, that’s me. That’s it. If I’m going to play that character, then that would truly be playing myself. Otherwise, not so much.”

PP: …and I haven’t seen it yet! You’re ahead of the game!

BE: As ever, Abby’s providing that perspective where you’re stepping outside of the viewpoint of the criminologist and saying, “Hello! You’re dealing with a human being here!”

PP: Yeah, Abby and her big ol’ heart!

BE: How rough is it for you to play those episodes where it feels like Abby’s the only person at NCIS with a heart?

PP: (Laughs) Well, I think they all have one, but she’s just kinda sensitive and…I don’t know, I think that’s a lot like myself. I’m a bit over-sensitive, too. I’m just always constantly worrying about how everyone’s feeling! Too much so. I’m making sure no one’s feelings ever get hurt and everybody’s okay. I think part of that…that’s a blend of her and me.

BE: You were almost childlike in that scene with you and Santa.

PP: Oh, the Santa! That’s right! I forgot about that! And we learned that Abby loves Christmas! Oh, I’m so jealous that you’ve seen it and I haven’t! I’m so excited! (Laughs)

BE: At the moment in the episode where you take a picture of yourself and Santa by holding the camera out in front of you, I immediately had a flashback to last year’s TCA tour.

PP: Oh, yeah, we were taking pictures!

BE: Absolutely. I went to take your picture, and you said, “Oh, let me do it! I’m good at this!” (Writer’s note: as you can see, she really is.)

PP: I am! I don’t know if it’s, like, my arm length or what, but I realized years ago that I have a really good knack for taking pictures. I can do up to five people!

BE: So was the shot of you and St. Nick that they use in the episode actually one that you took?

Alfonso RibeiroPP: Well, it was interesting, because usually when we do those shots, they have…like, that was a real digital camera, and we were having a blast, actually, looking at the picture each time, and they were really, really good! And I told them when we were there, “Look, you guys, I’m really good at this!” Same as I told you! (Laughs) Usually what they do is that we film me shooting something, and then they have a photographer come in there with a giant Nikon and re-take the pictures. On that particular scene, I do not know if they actually took that digital card out of my camera, because the pictures were really good, so…I don’t know! They might’ve. Maybe I’ll get a photo credit!

BE: I would like to believe that they used one of your shots.

PP: I would like to believe so as well. (Laughs)

BE: You and David McCallum have a nice little scene where he’s discussing the Mallard family Christmas traditions.

PP: Yes, with his little coin! (Writer’s note: Ducky reveals how the Mallard family has baked the same coin into a Christmas pudding every year since the 1800s.)

BE: Do you personally have any Christmas traditions that you make sure to maintain every year?

PP: No, I don’t. Not at all. I really don’t, and I have had a love/hate relationship with Christmas, and I’ve been extremely anti-Christmas for a really long time. Like, really anti-Christmas. One of those people. And I’ve written about it and written scathing things about Christmas and all that kind of stuff…but, actually, I’m getting better. But I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2002, and that was it. After that, I was, like, “I hate Christmas!” She died right before Christmas, and, she was like Abby. She loved Christmas. Loved it. Everything. All the decorations and the Advent calendars, everything in the world. Starting at Thanksgiving and leaving the tree up until after New Year’s. But when I lost my mom, I was, like, “Screw this. I’m not doing this anymore, because it’s just too sad.” But I’m getting better.

BE: So was the episode therapeutic, then?

PP: It probably was, actually. Because when I’m Abby, I’m completely her, and she has so much joy about it. She loves it! And that was fun to do, and it was fun to feel.

BE: It’s funny that you mentioned that you’re completely Abby when you’re playing her, because I have read comments where people suggest that Abby is actually just a toned-down version of Pauley.

PP: I still don’t think that that’s true. I really don’t! (Laughs) But, y’know, it’s so weird. I have a weird job, and at this point, people are just convinced that we’re the same person, but we’re not! I’m an actor! I play her! (Laughs) But, y’know, there’s no sense in arguing with people. But before, during, and after playing this character, I’m going to be playing all kinds of other things that are not like her at all. It’s happened to me before. I’ve played other characters that have nothing to do with Abby, nothing even like Abby, and people have said after that, “Oh, you guys are just alike!” I’m, like, “Whatever.” I think it just kind of happens with every character. “It’s just like you!” Okay, whatever. I mean, unless I play a character where I’m wearing thrift-store flannel pajamas, sitting on the couch with my dogs, drinking beer and watching television? I mean, that’s me. That’s it. If I’m going to play that character, then that would truly be playing myself. (Laughs) Otherwise, not so much.

“I don’t make up these things; the writers do. But I decided a while ago as to whether Abby’s father is alive. I don’t think he is. In my head, he’s not. And that also has a lot to do with her relationship with Gibbs. Gibbs lost his daughter, Abby lost her dad”

BE: You know, I mentioned David McCallum a minute ago, but I was sad to hear that Nina Foch had passed away. Obviously, I know of her long history as an actress, but I always think fondly of the pair of episodes she did for “NCIS” as Ducky’s mother.

PP: Yeah, and what’s really sad for us here…well, anytime we’ve lost a cast-mate, but what made it equally sad, as you know from the Christmas episode but also from subsequent episodes that we have filmed and are filming right now, is that I was just reading a script talking about her when we got the news. So it’s very strange. Even when she wasn’t here on set, she’s still an active part of our cast of characters here, so it’s very tough. It’s always very hard. We’ve lost a cast member before, and it’s hard.

BE: This is the first season with Rocky Carroll as a full-fledged member of the cast.

PP: Yes, it is! And we love him!

BE: I was just wondering how it was for him to enter the show after having worked with Lauren Holly for so long. Was it a huge change in dynamic?

PP: I don’t know. I can only speak personally, but I am very, very close to Lauren. She’s one of my dearest friends, and I absolutely adore her. Still. When it comes down to it, for me, the dynamic only means, like, “Are they cool or not?” And Lauren Holly, she’s so cool, and I love her so much. And Rocky Carroll, he’s awesome. He is a sweetheart. He is a good man. So that’s what matters to me. So to have someone awesome like Lauren, when she has to go, at least we get somebody who I just love to hang out with as well.

BE: On a related note, as far as a change in dynamic, how did things change when Don Bellisario stepped down from day-to-day running? I’m not asking if it’s better or worse; I’m just wondering if it feels different.

PP: It felt different to me -- again, personally -- because I was really, really close to Don. I absolutely love him, and I still love him, and I’m very good friends with him, so the thing to me is that I miss him. I miss seeing him. I still miss seeing him. But, then, that’s kinda funny, too, because I can just call him on the phone and go see him. And I do. I still talk to him. I still talk to Don, I still talk to Lauren, I still talk to Sasha Alexander all the time. It’s just, like, I kind of miss him being around, but everything’s going … the thing is that I think that, often, the unsung heroes in film and television are the crew. I mean, we’ve got 300 people here, most of them have been here since Day One, and they also worked for Don on other shows. Some people have been together for 20 years. And I believe that, through a lot of changes that come and go, one thing that has kept us solid and kept us going is our crew.

Alfonso Ribeiro

BE: Well, you guys – both crew and cast – are very much a family on-screen as well as off. Or, at least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten.

PP: Yeah, it’s great. It’s a really good group. And when you’re doing this kind of work, where you’re together so much and for such long hours…especially for all these guys that play agents, who are on location, and there’s all this dirt and water, and you throw somebody in the ocean, or you run over somebody with a truck in 140-degree weather out in the desert. It helps that we all like each other. (Laughs)

BE: And when I talked to Michael Weatherly (DiNozzo) this summer, he was telling me about how you and he and I think his son all went to see The Police and Elvis Costello together. So, clearly, you do stuff together away from the set as well.

PP: Yeah, and not only us, but one of our directors went as well! (Laughs) To see Elvis Costello was huge, because that’s Michael Weatherly’s hero.

BE: Yes, he was very impressed that I’d gotten to meet him a few days beforehand, during the TCA tour.

PP: Nice!

BE: Now, I’m not going to lie to you: when the “NCIS: Season 5” DVD set came out, I was very disappointed that there was no commentary with you and Michael.

PP: Isn’t that strange? I was disappointed as well! But the first thing was that it was a bit crazy because of the writer’s strike, so we were just scrambling. We have to find a day when we’re both not working and can get into the studio and find the time, so it was pretty much…God bless the guy who actually got our DVD together, as well as every other show, because we were battling the writer’s strike and episode length and then getting the DVD out by a certain time when we weren’t here and able to do anything. At least we got some stuff on there. At least there’s something to watch!

BE: And at least Michael got to do a commentary with his mother.

PP: Yes. Who we love. We love Michael’s mom.

BE: Last season, you had that great episode where you got to team up with a German shepherd (“Dog Tags”).

Alfonso RibeiroPP: (Wistfully) Ohhhhhhh! I am such an animal fanatic, so that was the greatest thing ever. I was, like, “Are you kidding me? I get to go to work and play with a dog all day?” It was great!

BE: And how was the dog to work with?

PP: Amazing. Just amazing. And a lot of times when you work with animals, the only thing that really makes it a good or a bad experience is the trainer, and those trainers were just fantastic. They were really great. Actually, they really love their dogs, they’re awesome trainers, and they’re very loving towards their animals, which is what matters to me.

BE: Obviously, working with a dog was a treat, but throughout the run of the show, are there other Abby spotlights that really stand out for you?

PP: (Considers the question) Was it this season or last season? I loved “Internal Affairs,” because I got to work so much with Joe Spano (Tobias Fornell), who I tell all the time, “I love you, I’m such a huge fan,” even though I work with him all the time. Every time I see him, I say that. “You know I’m a huge fan!” (Laughs) So that was really fun, and I loved all of the Abby/Fornell stuff in the interrogation room. That was just super fun. I’ve actually gone back and watched that, like, a million times. It was really fun. And, Season Three, that was my favorite season. I really love this season, too, but in Season Three, there was a lot of stuff that was, like, dealing with the long-ish arc of Abby having the crazy assistant that ended up in “Frame Up.” Partly one reason I love that is that I actually am Michael Weatherly’s biggest fan, and he knows that (Laughs) and to see him work? He’s just so good. He’s so talented. The world hasn’t even given him enough credit yet. But…I don’t know! The ones where I’m putting on all my crazy get-ups and going places. It’s funny. I have such a weird job!

BE: The Halloween episode where you dressed up as Marilyn Monroe (“Witch Hunt”) was a fun one.

PP: It was, yeah. You know, it’s funny: people like to dress me up as Marilyn Monroe. I think that was my fifth time! There’s something similar about us, I don’t know what it is, but that’s not the first time that I’ve done that.

BE: Well, you wear blonde well.

PP: Well, I am blonde!

BE: (Laughs) I knew that, I swear!

PP: And I kind of look like my mom when I do that.

BE: That would be a good thing, I’d think.

PP: Yes. Oh, yeah, my mom’s beautiful, and she has blonde hair and blue eyes.

BE: Wow. So what do you think about the Season One episodes, where the relationship between Abby and Gibbs seems less father/daughter and more flirtatious? That’s gotta be a little creepy when you look back at them.

Alfonso RibeiroPP: Yeah, but I just think it’s Abby being playful. Just, like, goofing around. And, also, I think that things have changed. If you try to go through these people’s lives as if they have experienced everything that we’ve actually watched them experience on TV, Abby’s had, since the time we met her, one of her best friends shot through the head, another one blown away with a shotgun, a detective that she knew was sliced to bits in an elevator. I’ve kind of tried to maintain a memory with the character that all of these horrible things have happened around her, and she is very sensitive. Even her speech patterns and the way she acts, I try to maintain a sensory memory of the fact that those things…like, she gets a little freaked out, you know? That’s heavy! If that happened to somebody in real life, they’d be hospitalized! (Laughs) I think the main thing with her relationship with Gibbs is that, with all of these atrocious things happening around her, she’s become more worried and even maybe more in need of a protector. Abby herself has been shot at, held at gunpoint, held at knifepoint (Laughs) and all in six years! It’s crazy!

BE: So, y’know, we’ve seen Gibbs’ father, Ziva’s father, Ducky’s mother and McGee’s sister. Are we ever going to see more of Abby’s family?

PP: I don’t make up these things; the writers do. But I have all of my own ideas! We know that Abby has a little brother. We know that. And I keep saying, “Where’s her brother?” I’m not sure, but in my head, I have decided…which means, to the writers, absolutely nothing (Laughs). But I decided awhile ago, and it definitely comes up in the Christmas episode, because I played it that way -- or I certainly hope it comes across that way, or at least there’s a question mark -- as to whether Abby’s father is alive. I don’t think he is. In my head, he’s not. And that also has a lot to do with her relationship with Gibbs. Gibbs lost his daughter, Abby lost her dad (Trails off).

BE: Yeah, I’ve kind of gotten that impression from the way she’s acted around him over the years.

(After a few moments of silence, it becomes clear that Pauley is no longer on the other end of the line. Fortunately, Katie from CBS calls back a few moments later, albeit with no explanation as to what had happened. “It was so funny: Pauley was going on and on, and all of sudden, she’s, like, ‘Was that really deep? Hello?’”)

PP: Where were we?

BE: You had just said that you were convinced that Abby’s father had died, and…

“Every Halloween since Season One, I see so many people walking around dressed as Abby! Because it’s such a fun costume -- and it’s easy! Ponytails, fake tattoo on your neck, lab coat, big boots, choker collar, wrist bands, done!”
PP: Right, she lost her father, and I think that that has a lot to do with maybe why there’s that father/daughter relationship between Gibbs and her: because he lost his daughter and she lost her dad. And also, during the Christmas episode, the fact why she was just so emotional and felt such a kinship to this girl who thought her father was dead. That would be her dream come true: to somehow have her father come back to life.

BE: Of course.

PP: But I made all that up. (Laughs) I’ve made all that up in my own head.

BE: But I think you’re right, though. I think it does come across. I’ve always gotten the impression that, at the very least, there was a father/daughter relationship between Abby and Gibbs, and you can read between the lines and presume that she does not have a relationship with her father, for whatever reason.

PP: Exactly.

BE: You know, when I’ve done my overall coverage of the TCA tour over the past few years, I’ve mentioned both times about how you’ve struck me as just such a genuine person. You just seem very -- real. But I think my favorite moment was when you were telling us the story behind why you chose the shirt that you wore to the CBS party.

Alfonso RibeiroPP: Yeah! Some fans gave that to me! But the interesting side note to that is that, one minute I’m at the TCAs with you and your wife and explaining the story behind my shirt, and the next morning, I wake up and go into the office for a meeting that I had with some of our producers, and by the time I got there -- and keep in mind that these fans live in France! -- they had already taken a screen shot of that picture off of the computer, put it in an E-mail, and sent it to the production office, saying, “Thank you!” I’m, like, “Well, that was speedy!” (Laughs) They’re great, but, wow, that’s why you’ve really got to watch what you do and say!

BE: Well, when I wrote up my TCA experiences, I made sure to get that picture and use it within the piece, just in case they might not have seen it. Obviously, I needn’t have worried.

PP: Right on! And, y’know, some people may or may not get it, but it doesn’t matter, because it was for my fans!

BE: Which is awesome, I think.

PP: Abby is very well loved in France.

BE: Not unlike Jerry Lewis. I presume you’ve seen the CafPow! shirts that you can buy on CafePress.com?

PP: I have not!

BE: I have my doubts as to whether they’re licensed or not, but they’re certainly very, very cool.

PP: Good! I just hope nobody gets in trouble! (Laughs)

BE: As do I. I would also just like to add that, after this season, I would think there’d be a market for “Who Stole My Cupcake?” shirts.

PP: I think there should be an Abby doll. Like, an action figure.

BE: Absolutely. Or even an Abby “Barbie.”

PP: Oh, boy. (Considers this possibility) Wow. But, you know, it’s so funny, because she’s such a character! Y’know, on Halloween…every Halloween since Season One, I see so many people walking around dressed as Abby! Because it’s such a fun costume, and it’s easy! Ponytails, fake tattoo on your neck, lab coat, big boots, choker collar, wrist bands, done! Every year on the Internet, there are always tons of pictures of people who went as Abby. (Giggles)

BE: So you’re forever immortalized now.

PP: Well, Abby is. Because, you know, I don’t dress like that in real life. (Laughs)

BE: I knew that. At least, I know you don’t sport the tattoo, anyway. I definitely got the impression from that special feature on the DVD that it’s a bit of a hassle.

PP: Oh, God. We were trying to count how many times in six years we’ve put it on, and there’s just no telling. It’s the combination of the tattoo and the choker collar. Because I change choker collars several times during the day sometimes, and it cools off, and you put it back on again, and (Groans). You know, the reason that tattoo is there is because Don wanted Abby to have tattoos, and I did have tattoos, but he wanted a tattoo that would be visible at all times, which is why there’s a giant neck tattoo. So you’ll always see it, unless I wore a really, really high turtleneck or something. Or maybe a bag over my head. (Laughs)

On the still-growing fanbase of “NCIS”: “It’s not so weird to us because we knew very early on. We’re, like, ‘You know what? This rules. This is fun, and this is great.’ And it’s such a different kind of show that, slowly, people started picking up on it, and once you start watching it, you’re hooked. And people just keep meandering on in!”

BE: I just wanted to get your comments about a couple of other things that you worked on pre-“NCIS.”

PP: Okay!

BE: First off, “The Drew Carey Show.”

PP: Yaaaaaaay! Yes, I played Drew Carey’s girlfriend for the time when Drew Carey’s character wanted to be in a band. So I played his girlfriend, and that was where I met the great and brilliant Craig Ferguson, who I absolutely adore! He’s wonderful! And that was interesting, too, because, of all things, I do this arc on “Drew Carey,” and one of the episodes I did was where Drew and the other two guys are auditioning guitar players. So I’m there, on set, and it’s, like, there’s all these people…everybody from Joey Ramone to Lisa Loeb. I mean, literally, I’m hanging out on the “Drew Carey” set with Joey Ramone! It was pretty crazy. And I’m a huge music freak, too, so it was quite a kick! If I had it here…I can’t run the list of people off right now, but, of course, it was Drew Carey, and his show was huge back then, so of course everybody said “yes” to that. It was nuts! (Writer’s note: She’s not kidding. The other guitarists who appeared on that episode were Dusty Hill, Jonny Lang, Dave Mustaine, Rick Nielsen, Slash, Michael Stanley, Matthew Sweet and Joe Walsh.)

BE: Next up: “Special Unit 2.” My wife actually was a big fan of that show, by the way.

PP: That’s so funny, because one of my episodes of that show was on my TV set this morning. It was being re-run. Yeah, we shot that up in Vancouver. Just prior to that, I was touring in a band, and I was on the Warped Tour, and I had left that and came back here, and then I got that job and immediately took off and was shooting in Vancouver for a really long time. That was a really interesting show, and I’ve thought about that a lot recently, because it was almost like a spoof of “The X-Files,” kind of like we’re almost kind of a spoof of gritty crime dramas. It’s the same kind of thing. They were like “The X-Files,” except funny. And we’re the funny crime show. So there’s definitely certainly similarities in there. And I was also shooting that in Vancouver during 9/11. That was heavy.

Alfonso Ribeiro

BE: “My First Mister.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. Did you actually have any scenes with Albert Brooks?

PP: I did not. I was in that movie for, like, two seconds. A camera pans past me, I think. (Laughs) So I barely remember anything about that…except for the director, Christine Lahti. My memories of that entire experience of shooting that whole entire movie, I don’t remember anything about it except that she was so nice! Whenever I see her name, I think about that movie and think, “Man, she was so nice!” She’s really nice. She was a nice lady.

BE: You appeared at least slightly more in “Almost Famous.”

PP: Oooooooh, yeah! Boy, lemme tell ya, that one. “Almost Famous” is one of my top 10 movies of all time, having nothing to do with me being in it. Everything I want out of a movie is in that movie. I love that film. But I also was such a ridiculously huge Cameron Crowe fan. Like, “Say Anything,” I know every line to it, I’ve seen it a hundred times. So that was just an absolute honor. I was so honored and humbled and grateful to be a part of, like, anything Cameron Crowe did. Anything at all. But then when I got there and I walked into the make-up trailer, just for the wig they were going to put on me, on one side of me is Philip Seymour Hoffman, and on the other side of me is Frances McDormand. I was, like, “Are you kidding me? This is nuts!” And I just happened to be a huge fan of those two actors, and I was, like, “This is crazy! Crazy!” I was delighted. I was a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman for years before that movie, and I booked the film having no idea I was going to be playing opposite him. I didn’t know what I was getting into! It was funny. I got called in for a meeting at Cameron Crowe’s office and met with him just briefly, and the character was originally a male, but I met Cameron, and he turned it into a female and put me in there. It was amazing!

BE: Before I got into writing TV, I was 100 percent music journalism, and he was just my hero. I mean, he got into writing when he was in his teens.

PP: Totally!

BE: And then he goes and marries a hot female rock star! I mean, if you’re a music journalist, how do you beat that? (Laughs)

PP: Absolutely! And for me…not just as a fan of his, but as a music fan, growing up, I saw Heart in Atlanta when I was young, and when Nancy Wilson walked onto that stage with her guitar and started playing, I was literally just (Pretends that she can’t breathe). I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe them. And then later on, as an adult, I’ve met her several times because I’ve been around both of them, but, they’re a pretty amazing couple. Every now and then, even with my fandom of Cameron Crowe, I feel like tugging on his sleeve and whispering in his ear, “Do you know you’re married to Nancy Wilson?” I mean, Nancy Wilson! Come on, she’s amazing!

BE: I would like to think that he wakes up every morning and still can’t believe it.

PP: Yeah, he must. How could you not? Totally.

BE: And the last project I wanted to ask you about was working on “Dawson’s Creek.”

Alfonso RibeiroPP: You know what? I have no memory of that. I don’t. It’s absolutely fine to say why, and I’m going to tell you the God’s honest truth: my mother was very sick then. She had cancer, and my folks were in Alabama, and I was out here in L.A. And during the length of my mother’s illness, I couldn’t take a series regular part on anything because we didn’t know what was going to happen, and I needed to be available to leave at any time. So I was just trying to pick up guest parts to pay my bills, and I had to turn down a few series regular roles for that reason. And that actually shot in North Carolina, and it was closer to my mom than L.A. was. And I remember that I’d go out there, and the way the schedule was set up was that I shot some, and then I was going to be there for a week and a half before I shot something else, so I shot my scene and went to be with my mom, and then I drove back. It was kind of a crazy time. I don’t even remember being here. I don’t. The whole thing is such a blur. (Sighs) It was a crazy time.

BE: Oh, I meant to ask how what kind of response you got from appearing on “America’s Most Wanted.” Did you hear back from fans saying, “That was weird?”

PP: You know, that’s such a passion of mine, and I just had such high hopes that, God, y’know, if this works, it’ll be so great. I just believe in “America’s Most Wanted” so much. I feel like if everybody watched that show and got these people off the streets, there’d be less residual crime, and, well, whatever. I was scared. I don’t like appearing as me, y’know? If I don’t have a script in my hand (Trails off). I had just posted the reward. It was their idea to actually put me on the show, and I was, like, “Uhhhhhhh.” And then I thought, “You know what? It doesn’t matter how I feel. If it helps, do it. If there’s a chance that this will help, do it. Whatever it takes.” So my moment of nervousness gave way to, “Being selfless is more important than being nervous.” And that was tough, too. That was a tough schedule. We were in different states, flying around, driving around, going all over the place. We had a very short amount of time. Our schedules were crazy; it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, the two murders are still unsolved, but, God, I did my best, and I’ll do it again! To at least try.

BE: And the last question: how bizarre is it that you’re in your sixth year of “NCIS” and, yet, the show actually still seems to be growing in popularity?

PP: You know, it’s not weird to us. It’s funny, but I think it’s weirder to everybody else. It’s not so weird to us because we knew very early on. We’re, like, “You know what? This rules. This is fun, and this is great.” And it’s such a different kind of show that, slowly, people started picking up on it, and once you start watching it, you’re hooked. And people just keep meandering on in! (Laughs)

BE: And I’d agree with that. I didn’t discover it until the second season came out on DVD, but I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve had people who’ve written me and thanked me for doing DVD reviews, saying, “Oh, my God, thank you so much, because this show flies so under the radar, and I’m so glad you’re giving it love on your site!”

PP: Well, I will thank you, too, then! (Laughs) And, you know, also, when the USA Network and Ion started running just, like, massive marathons of “NCIS” on random days and weekends and everything else, that pulled in a whole other, giant new group. That was a big thing as well. It was people who, for some reason, hadn’t been watching on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. for the last six years. But they picked it up over there, and they’re, like, “What is this?” And they got hooked, and now they do watch on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.

BE: Six years in, is there anything you’d still like to see Abby do as a character that she hasn’t done yet? I know, you have no control over it.

PP: (Emphatically) I have no control over it. (Laughs) I don’t know! I guess you’ll just have to wait and see! But I keep telling them that I want to meet her brother, so that’s something!

BE: Well, it’s been great to talk to you again. And if there’s a CBS function in January, I’m theoretically going to be there for the TCA Press Tour. Provided, of course, that there isn’t an SGA strike.

PP: (Groans) God, what a mess. I know. Well, I just want you to know that everybody is as on edge as you are. There’s no plans, there’s no nothing. Everything’s just up in the air until we figure out something. But if not, then I’ll see you the next time!

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