This year, as we celebrate a decade of following the best character on TV, we’re revisiting some of our favorite posts. Come along as we look back at early features, fan fics and fan art. Today’s piece is a great feature written by early wikiDeeks contributor Bridget. She took a look at Eric Christian Olsen’s career before he won the role of our Detective Marty Deeks, and how his prior acting experiences contributed to his portrayal of Deeks. Enjoy!
How ECO’s Early Roles Shaped the Character of Marty Deeks
There’s one thing that fans of NCIS:LA and Detective Marty Deeks know for certain, that we could imagine no one but Eric Christian Olsen (aka ECO) in the role. Olsen has the ability to bring levity to an otherwise serious show through his comedic skills, while also possessing the dramatic acting talents to handle the most serious of situations that Deeks may find himself in. Sure, most of this is pure talent that ECO was probably just born with, but it’s also interesting to take a look at his past roles to see how they may have contributed to the skillset that ECO needs to portray everyone’s favorite LAPD Detective.
Cameron Green in Get Real
One of ECO’s first major roles was on the short-lived FOX dramedy Get Real. Eric played Cameron, the older of two brothers in the semi-dysfunctional Green family of Los Angeles and starred alongside other soon to be stars Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg. Marty Deeks has been known to have a way with the ladies, and it may have all started for ECO with Cameron. He was your basic self-absorbed 16-year-old boy whose favorite pastime was picking up girls. But just like Deeks, while it’d be easy to see him as only two-dimensional, Cameron would turn around and stick up for his younger brother and show a more complex and dramatic side to him. Get Real seems to have been a great first starring role for ECO and Cameron had just the right mix of comedy and drama that would prove to be beneficial when he got the role of Marty Deeks.
Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumberer
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just part of life and part of growing up, especially as an artist. After Get Real, Eric made the jump to the big screen and garnered what could have been one of his most prolific roles, starring in the Farrelly brother’s prequel to Dumb and Dumber. However, the movie was poorly received and ECO himself has said in the past that it was unwatchable. Nevertheless, we have to think that his comedic skills got some work in and he gained experience trying to emulate Jim Carrey. Hey, if nothing else, ECO got to costar with comedic greats such as Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri, from which he could gain knowledge about honing those comedic skills of his that he channels so well as Deeks and his many undercover personas.
Sully Sullivan in The Loop
After appearing in other movies such as Beerfest, The Last Kiss and Cellular, ECO returned to the small screen in the comedy series The Loop playing Sully Sullivan. Sully was the carefree and jobless older brother to the main character Sam. We all know how much Deeks loves to get a great surf in when he can and while he may look the part with his shaggy blonde hair, Deeks is not your typical surfer dude. No, the typical surfer dude was Sully and ECO played this California airhead to perfection. Sully could often be found trying to hold down odd jobs while partying it up and this often-added humor to the show as he butted heads with his much more serious and career focused brother Sam. I guess we can see why ECO is so at home with having Deeks clash with a “Sam” of his own. It’s not his first time at this rodeo.
Nick Brady in Fired Up!
After finishing up on The Loop, ECO got another starring role on the big screen, as high school football star Nick Brady in Fired Up! In the film, two high school football stars decide to ditch football camp in favor of cheerleading camp. Once again ECO found himself playing a role where the character’s sole focus was on how to get girls. We all know Deeks claims to be a ladies’ man and we’ve seen evidence of this when he’s been undercover (hello Max Gentry!) so I’m sure roles like this have attributed to ECO successfully playing that side of Deeks. Nick Brady was also yet another role that found ECO playing a lovable stoner. It seems that having the shaggy blonde hair may have led to him getting typecast. However, this character also had the ability to come off as very sharp witted and intelligent. Hmmm sound like another goofy, silly yet highly intelligent LAPD Detective we know?
Vaughn Miller in Community
Just as ECO was getting ready to begin his stint on NCIS:LA, he did a brief 6-episode stint during the first season of the NBC comedy Community. He played Vaughn, a hippie style character that was often seen around the community college campus playing hackey sack and his guitar while mostly barefoot and shirtless. The latter fact being something that was often brought up and mocked. Vaughn first was on the scene as Britta’s boyfriend and then later moved on and dated Annie. It’s easy to see Vaughn as yet another take on the typical laid back, surfer dude that ECO has played so many times before. But there was more to Vaughn than meets the eye. Once he found out the study group was mocking him, whether it be for his tendency to greet and say goodbye three different ways or the fact that he had “tiny nipples”, another side of Vaughn came out. We’ve seen it before with Deeks and Vaughn was no different. ECO has a way of emoting pain and seriousness through just a look and at times it was painful to watch the study group have laughs at Vaughn’s expense. Vaughn soon moved on from Greendale but he’ll always be one of my favorite recurring characters on the show.
This has been a look at a short sampling of the many roles ECO has had during his career (not to forget Local Boys, The Last Kiss, Beerfest, The Thing, etc). In looking back at these roles, it seems that producers couldn’t have picked a better actor to play a “surfer dude” detective that joins NCIS:LA. ECO certainly has experience with that part of Deeks character but it’s safe to say that each role we’ve examined in his career was multi-faceted. There are many layers to the “Deeks onion” and ECO has proven to be very adept at unpeeling each of those. In a season that began with a whole new serious side to Deeks as he dealt with PTSD, to being in love and finally “getting the girl” with Kensi and now having to be strong while she’s away, Deeks has run the gamut of emotions. I for one, can imagine no other actor in the role than Eric and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for fans in the future!
Which ECO movie or TV role is your favorite and how did they help shape the role of Deeks? Leave us your comments below.