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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actors > Feature Interviews A to E > Brian Dietzen

 

Brian Dietzen stars in "NCIS"

Brian Dietzen

Manning the NCIS Morgue

by Ronald Sklar

 
Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 29, 2012. 

The perennial NCIS supporting player at last earns his stripes as a series regular. 

“It wasn’t always that way,” actor Brian Dietzen clarifies. He’s talking about the current sky-high ratings of his CBS series NCIS, on which he plays eccentric assistant Jimmy Palmer. The phenomenally popular procedural seems like it’s been on forever, but when it debuted in 2003 as a spinoff from JAG, the audience was actually small.

“When we first started, the numbers were good, but they weren’t stellar through the roof,” Dietzen explains. “That’s a testament to the work of the cast and crew and, obviously, the writing staff. We happily got to 20 million viewers pretty steadily. I feel like we’ve earned it over the course of years.”

Dietzen knows a thing or three about earning. The Colorado native, who now lives in LA with his wife and two children, has been a good soldier, a series regular since practically its beginning. He plays the bespectacled, nervous assistant to Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum). However, only now, as it enters its tenth season, has Dietzen “officially” joined the cast, with his name featured in the opening credits. And even more importantly, he managed to seriously evolve his offbeat character, which at first was only a last-minute replacement/afterthought.

Brian Dietzen and Michael Weatherly star in "NCIS"“He’s one of the only people on this team who has a relationship,” Dietzen says of Jimmy Palmer. “He just got married. This year, he has to take over for Ducky, who at the end of last season we saw fall down with a heart attack. We are going to see Jimmy taking on a lot of responsibilities. We are going to see whether or not this character can hack it, if he can play with the big boys.”

Playing with the big boys is nothing new to the Shakespearian-trained actor, who works side-by-side with such TV perennials as Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly and, of course, David McCallum, who we first met back in the Sixties as a superspy on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

He says, “What’s great about working with David and Mark, who are living legends of the television industry, is that you don’t feel an intimidation factor when you are on the set. These are really cool guys. Mark always makes a point of going out of his way to sit and talk with everybody. He makes everyone comfortable. I’m learning to enjoy what we have, because it doesn’t come along very often. I’m learning from people who have been there and have done it before. I realize that I need to appreciate it in the moment because this thing is not going to be around forever. Working with those guys has been pretty fantastic for my learning process.”

Brian Dietzen stars in "NCIS"Adding to that process was Dietzen’s feature film debut, in the musical From Justin to Kelly, which was a 2003 quick cash-in on the first American Idol winners. Although not a singer and dancer by trade, Dietzen seemed to have what it took to land a major role.

“I’ve done a lot of stage work, but not musicals,” he says. “I faked my way through [the audition], and they liked it well enough. So I got cast as [lead] Justin Guarini’s best friend. It was twelve weeks of living in South Beach in Miami. Yes, I did actually sing and I danced a ton in that movie.”

Dietzen attributes his unique career to balance, and constantly trying to maintain it.

“I am going to make the most of it,” he says of his current good fortunes. “And I balance that with: I’m also moving forward. Working on my own projects, pushing my career in other aspects. I think the balance between the two is the balance I strive to achieve.” 

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 29, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 29, 2012.