Recently wikiDeeks had the privilege of interviewing Eric Christian Olsen. We chatted about the development of his character, his work with his co-stars, and what we might see in Season 10. We hope you’ve gotten a chance to listen. During the conversation, Eric shared many insights, including a few that surprised us. Some he shared openly, and some I’ve inferred from small comments he made. I’ve listed them in order from most to least surprising.
10. Deeks didn’t murder Boyle in cold blood
For me the biggest revelation Eric shared had to do with the death of Deeks’ ex-partner Detective Boyle. I was surprised to hear Eric surprised by the very idea that it could have been a premeditated act. He said, “It can’t be in cold blood. It has to be in some form of self-defense. There’s no version of Deeks that just goes in there and hunts this guy.” Since many fans were stunned by the revelations of Deeks’ involvement in Boyle’s death, I think Eric’s take on the subject could go a long way to reassuring them that Deeks is still the same good man, albeit with a dark side, they thought they always knew.
Eric’s certainty that some kind of self defense was involved, and his justification for that certainty based on the events of “Human Traffic,” make me feel confident that he would defend Deeks to the writers should any of them try to spin a different, darker story. And his surprise that there was ever a question about it makes me think the details of what happened haven’t necessarily been on the showrunners’ radar, or the subject of further discussions. So it’s quite possible we’ll never learn those details, and unless Eric was doing a great job of pretending to be surprised, I wouldn’t expect that we’ll learn much with Whiting’s upcoming appearance in “Pro Se.”
9. “Deeks, M” could still happen, just not anytime soon
Or “M. Deeks” as Eric likes to call it. How wonderful to see that this is still a possibility. Eric himself certainly seems more aware of the show’s tradition of naming backstory-heavy episodes after the characters (even if he can’t quite get the name straight) than he was when I asked Shane Brennan about it at the first Paleyfest Q&A. At that time, Eric didn’t seem to know about it at all. Now it appears that Shane always had something planned for Deeks. Eric said, “That was Shane’s kind of storyline and [character] background, which we never got to see before he left, which is – like, what is that episode of the ‘M. Deeks’ or whatever he kept promising? Which hopefully Scott will take over and do at some point. My guess is probably at the end of this season or maybe next season.” At this point I’m inferring that it has at least been discussed, I assume between Eric and the current showrunners. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely to happen before 2019 at the earliest.
8. There could be a Season 11
When Eric mentioned the possible timing of a “Deeks, M.” episode, also of interest was the way he tossed out his reference to Season 11 as if it were a foregone conclusion. I wonder if the core four signed multi-year contracts that could make another season more assured than this current one seemed to be, assuming of course that the ratings hold up.
7. Hidoko’s death wasn’t a foregone conclusion
Beyond wanting a dramatic Season 9 finale, the showrunners ended last season with five characters’ lives in jeopardy for a larger reason. As Eric explained, “They honestly didn’t know who was coming back.” It’s awfully hard to imagine an NCIS: Los Angeles without the four stars, and I can’t begin to imagine how a Season 10 premiere would have looked with all that carnage! But it’s definitely easy to imagine that one or two of them might have felt ready to move on. If they had, then Andrea Bordeaux’s Harley Hidoko could easily have slid right into one of the leading roles. She was well-liked by most fans and capable in the field.
To me, this explains, at least in part, the horrible way they handled Hidoko’s demise. They needed a way to leave her fate unknown, so they couldn’t allow her a real hero’s death like she deserved. While there were surely better ways to handle it, knowing that her fate really was up in the air until the rest of the cast was determined makes me feel a little better about her departure.
6. The Prince of Darkness is a family man
Eric complimented Frank Military’s writing, explaining that one of his strengths is his “strong emotional sensibilities through character.” He called the Season 10 premiere “the best version of our show.” This we knew.
What surprised was hearing about Military’s “amazing” family, and how it impacts his writing, particularly around how he writes Densi. According to Eric, Military’s darkness is “usually some sort of reflection of finding love in those places, or hope, or relationships. It’s not dark for dark’s sake… Frank is searching for beauty in there.” I can totally see that, for I always feel like seeing characters pushed to their limits reveals their true nature in a way we don’t get in a typical banter-filled episode.
We’ve always known that Military has a romantic side. It shines through pretty clearly in scenes like the ends of “Spoils of War,” “The Seventh Child,” “The Silo,” and “To Live and Die in Mexico,” but now we know a little more about where that romance comes from. It makes me wonder if he might be one of the show’s main advocates behind allowing Kensi and Deeks to become a couple, and to get married. We could see how conflicted the showrunners were about moving the couple forward (“Three Hearts” I’m looking at you), seemingly afraid they’d kill off the special “thing” they’d created. Perhaps Military was the one pushing to allow Densi to find true love and real happiness.
5. R. Scott Gemmill is writing the wedding episode
We also got the great news that R. Scott Gemmill is writing/has written the wedding episode. Eric described Gemmill’s strengths perfectly, saying “Nobody’s better at drama, action, comedy, perfectly down the middle of all three of those things, so I’m really excited that he’s writing that episode.” Me too!
While Frank Military, with all his darkness, just might be the most romantic writer on staff, Gemmill can be plenty romantic too. Just look at the “sunshine and gunpowder” end of “Wanted,” Deeks’ coma proposal in “The Queen’s Gambit,” and the “It’s a love story” end of “Impact.” He’s also the most versatile, as Eric described. My total supposition from Eric’s quote is that the wedding episode might still involve a case (the action), along with some shenanigans (perhaps supplied by Roberta), and (fingers crossed) at the end of the day, the Densi romance we all want to see. And it might be happening sooner rather than later.
4. Post-premiere trauma follow-up is likely to be in short supply
Eric talked a bit about how traumatized Deeks had been by the events of the past few seasons, but when it came to whether we’d see it addressed, his response was less than promising. “Well that’s the other part of the show that’s interesting,” he said, “is that there’s always a pretty quick bounce-back. The bounce-back has to be quick, because it’s procedural television, right? So the format doesn’t lend itself to long recoveries emotionally.” So true and so frustrating for those of us who long to see more of the personal side and the impact of the danger and killing.
But his response wasn’t totally negative. He gave a glimmer of hope that they wouldn’t forget the subject entirely, saying, “So we have what is a lot like life, I think, which is traumatic events, and then we have to move forward with our jobs and our relationships and our lives. And then they come back from whatever that is – the trauma, the scarring of those traumatic experiences – come back in really interesting ways.” So I’m not holding my breath, but I am hoping they won’t turn Season 9 into the equivalent of a long dream sequence that never really happened.
3. The development of his character came out of a collaborative process
When Eric was first hired for the role, he wasn’t told a lot about his character Marty Deeks. In fact, he said, “I don’t think they knew a lot,” other than that Deeks was hopefully going to serve as a love interest for Kensi. The goal was Tiva2. Further development, particularly around Deeks’ use of humor, came from Eric’s “sensibilities” towards comedy. In what sounded like a very collaborative process, the writers and Shane Brennan encouraged Eric’s improvisations, which added layers to the character, and then the writers took those layers and built on them.
But reading between the lines, I inferred that maybe Eric felt the tendencies to make Deeks “kind of the butt of the joke” went a little too far in the first few seasons, when they “just really kind of doubled down on the comedy,” and that perhaps he worked to tone down Funny Deeks. It was “a small and slow evolution to kind of where it is now… That took a lot of work, to kind of be like, we have to find the balance of being a great agent but also being able to carry these comedy runners and all the stuff they were doing in Seasons 2 and 3.” In other words, I’d like to think that Eric is a fan of Competent Deeks, one of our favorite versions of the character.
Of course we all know that comedy isn’t the only side to Deeks’ personality. Eric shared that Deeks’ dark side “was an ongoing conversation, because I think that to balance out that light side we have to have something that is coming from or is a coping mechanism for something much darker, or it’s his way of navigating through trauma. Otherwise it’s not a layered character. So we had numerous conversations on what that background was, and the one that I think that made the most sense was that relationship with his dad. And that was Shane.” Shane Brennan, who wrote “Human Traffic,” seemed to have a bit of a dark side in mind for Deeks at least from the beginning of Season 2, and it sounds like Eric welcomed the contrast and “balance” this brought to his otherwise flirty, comic relief-focused character.
2. Linda Hunt is a national treasure
Of course Eric put it a bit more colorfully than that! Probably my favorite part of the interview was his story about Linda’s interaction with a guest actor on the show. It’s too good to try to recreate here- you just have to listen. I can absolutely picture her saying those words, and demanding the other actor’s attention. Now I can’t watch her on-screen without thinking both of the story and of Eric’s f-bomb dropping description, both of which will always make me smile. And I also think about his description of her talents as “the greatest listener on the planet,” and as such a powerful actress that she drives the scenes forward, offering an unusual dynamic for Eric to play since Deeks is frequently driving the scenes with Kensi. Eric said, “It’s one of the true joys of the show to do work opposite her,” and understanding more about why has added to my enjoyment of their scenes together.
1. ECO is a ridiculously nice guy
We already knew what a kind and down to earth person Eric Christian Olsen is, but that he would spend time talking to his fans through a fan site really speaks to his generosity. I’m sure there are other stars out there who’ve done similar things, but they are part of a small minority. Eric could have easily set up his videos through CBS, and he could have given a 30-minute interview to lots of websites with far higher viewer numbers than wikiDeeks. Instead he gave us more than we could have hoped for, single-handedly bringing us out of retirement! His words of appreciation for everyone involved with NCIS:LA, from the fans to the showrunners, writers, publicists, cast and crew, felt absolutely sincere and illustrate my point.
“Anything can go wrong to cancel a show,” he said, “but everything has to go right to get this kind of run. I think that’s an accumulation of just having amazing people everywhere… Everyone has killed it. And that doesn’t happen. And the only word to encapsulate all that, I think, is just to be incredibly blessed.”
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We’re only scratching the surface here of all the great things Eric shared, particularly around the development of his character and his work with his co-stars. If you haven’t listened yet, what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy. In the meantime, what did you find most interesting from our talk with Eric? Did you read anything else between the lines? Tell us about it in the Comments below.