NCIS: LA Panel with Barrett Foa and Renée Felice Smith at MCM London Comic Con

Renée Felice Smith and Barret Foa (NCIS LA Panel)

Both Barrett Foa and Renée Felice Smith, stars of the US drama series NCIS: Los Angeles, were at the MCM London Comic Con over the weekend to meet and chat with their fans. Something that Barrett appeared to appreciate. “Opportunities like these we are grateful for,” he said. “This is great because we get to meet you.”

Barrett and Renée both appear on NCIS: LA as Eric Beale and Nell Jones respectively, working together as analysts. While Barrett has been involved with the spin-off series since the first season, Renée’s character was introduced in season two. Since then both Eric and Nell seem to be getting closer.

The panel kicked off with Barrett and Renée being asked if they find it interesting how people around the world perceive the show. “It was just nice to see how observant the audience abroad is to the show,” said Renée.

“We’re in your living room every week, but you’re not in ours,” added Barrett, noting how they don’t really know what audiences like about the show, or what they are reacting to, till they meet with the fans. But he found it great to hear that audiences “like the ‘Neric’ relationship.”

“So many people were saying, ‘Nell and Eric, they’re my favourite part of the show,’” said Renée. “We said, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s amazing, write in and tell our show runner.’”

“Yeah, write into CBS. Write to Shane Brennen,” said Barrett, referring to the executive producer of the show.

“If you want more of it, we will give it to you,” said Renée.

They were then asked if they ever got lost with the connecting storylines, due to filming out of order, and if they ever actually watch the episodes back afterwards. “It’s funny because there’s a different set of bad guys every week,” said Barrett. “So the day before you could be ending episode X, but the next day you’re shooting episode Y and there’s a completely different set of characters that we’re supposed to be incredibly knowledgeable about.”

Renée noted that they’re only human and not quite like their characters. “Eric and Nell are like Barrett and Renée to the tenth degree,” she said.

“Do we watch it back?” pondered Barrett. “We both kind of come from stage backgrounds, so it’s very informative to watch the show back.”

“There’s so many things that are out of your control as an actor, so I think it’s very valuable to watch your work back,” said Renée. “Even at school I went to a drama programme and there was a TV and film component. We would do classes on camera and we were really encouraged to watch what we did. That’s the only way you’re going to learn what you do on camera. Do you bite your lip? Do you scratch your face? Do you have these weird tics, which I probably have.” Renée then shared what she believed was her weird tic. “I think I’m a lip biter actually; I’ve been told, because my lip gloss just evaporates.” Renée then shifted back to the topic, saying, “We do watch what we do. We have to.”

The next question was related to the humour based on the partnerships that everybody has, with the two being asked if it was something that had developed over the course of the show as the characters and cast meshed together. “I think the basis of that is NCIS,” said Barrett. “I think we took our cues off of the tone of that show. What sets NCIS and NCIS: LA apart from the other crime procedural shows is that there’s humour involved. It’s almost like a workplace comedy, with crime over the top of it.”

Renée noted how in reality “these people deal with serious subjects all the time. It’s really important for your mental state to keep it light and fill the gaps with some laughter and lightness.”

Renée Felice Smith and Barret Foa (NCIS LA Panel) (2)Questions were then thrown to the audience, with the first asking Barrett about his character Eric dressing in flip-flops and shorts and what that must be like for him on a daily basis. “It’s great to have a really comfortable costume, that’s for sure,” said Barrett, but he then revealed the downside. “It just so happens that the Paramount soundstages, for some reason, they can not control the temperature! It is SO cold in there!”

Renée agreed. “It’s freezing! Often times my teeth are chattering. That is no joke. So I look at [Barrett] and I’m like, ‘You poor thing, you’re in shorts and flip-flops.’” Renée then revealed that fellow cast member Linda Hunt, who plays Henrietta ‘Hetty’ Lange, actually walks around the set with a portable heater. “We just gather around it like a little campfire.”

Following this the next question from the audience wasn’t so much a question, but a request. Knowing Renée’s background they asked to see a tap dancing demonstration. “Oh my goodness,” said Renée. “Nothing like putting me on the spot! I guess we could make it happen.” Barrett started a beat, banging his hands on the table, while Renée got up and began dancing, which was greeted with cheers and a round of applause. “Welcome to the NCIS: LA talent show,” said Renée as she sat back down.

The next question had the two being asked who the best person is to work with (this was instantly followed by Barrett saying, “Me.”), and who the worst person is to work with (again Barrett answered instantly with “Renée”).

“He would say that,” responded Renée. “I love working with Linda. That’s my pick for best. She’s really invested in a scene and when she nails it, it’s amazing to watch. I feel like no one can cut through the camera like she can. When you’re in a scene with her you’re not sure how it’s going to translate and then you watch it back… it’s crazy. The camera loves her. She’s great, she knows exactly what she’s doing.”

Barrett then answered seriously, saying, “I do have to say Renée is my favourite to work with.”

“Aww,” said Renée in response.

“Because we laugh the most when the cameras are not rolling,” said Barrett. “So that just makes the day go by faster.” Renée then revealed that they both have a way of entertaining each other that seems to be lost on other people. Barrett revealed that because of this they’ve both earned the nickname “The Twins” on set, a reference to the Hanna Barbera cartoon The Wonder Twins.

The panel came to a close, which Barrett and Renée both seemed incredibly disappointed to hear (“That’s it?” screamed Barrett. “We were just getting started.”), but not before another round of applause as they both danced their way off stage.

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