I spoke with Zoe McLellan about NCIS: New Orleans. Zoe plays Agent Meredith Brody a.k.a. The Jackal. It was wonderful to speak with Zoe and get some insight on her character, the show, what it’s like filming in New Orleans, and much more. NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on CBS.
Lena: Season two has been fantastic so far.
Zoe McLellan: It’s fun right. Thank you. We are having fun.
Lena: This season we are starting to learn a bit more about Brody’s past. Is that going to continue throughout the season?
Zoe McLellan: I think that the stuff with her past is really interesting. What I think is great is that they are really stretching it out, so we are getting pieces here and there. I think, in a couple of episodes, we are going to get a lot more information. I still don’t fully understand what happened to her sister. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we will know. I’m loving that we introduced her mom, who is played by Annie Potts. That was a blast. It’s helping me understand who she is a little bit more as we get a sense of who her family is.
Lena: In the last episode, they talked about bridesmaid dresses. What’s the worst one that you’ve ever had to wear or that you’ve seen?
Zoe McLellan: I’ve never had to wear an awful bridesmaid dress. I’ve worn pretty classy and beautiful ones but I think that some of the worst ones that I’ve seen are just these obnoxious colors—like super-duper flaming hot pink. I actually think that the dress that Percy (Shalita Grant) had to wear, that yellow dress, was kind of cute to be honest. I don’t know for a wedding but I think it was kind of fun. Bridesmaid dresses can be kind of awful. I remember for my best friend’s wedding I got to wear the classiest dress. She had us all in simple and elegant black and white long dresses. They were so gorgeous. Maybe my friends just have really great taste?
Lena: The dress did look good on Percy. Any theories as to why those dresses are almost always horrendous?
Zoe McLellan: I’m just digging here but maybe so the bride can always be the best dressed. I don’t know. I don’t think people intentionally try to make them horrible but I think that definitely weddings can be over the top and crazy, so I guess the dresses can be also.
Lena: Going back to how the first season ended, Pride (Scott Bakula) said that the city is one-of-a-kind. The setting of the show really does speak to you. What has your experience been like filming there?
Zoe McLellan: Right now, I’m sitting at a picnic table in the park and I’m looking around and it’s such an eclectic group. Right now there is a street musician who is playing “Brown Eyed Girl.” There is a feeling here, right now it’s a Tuesday but I feel like I’m on vacation. There is a little bit of that feel here even when you are working. It’s so important for people here to celebrate. There is definitely that Southern hospitality where people actually sit down and look you in the eye and enjoy a meal and look out for one another. Obviously, they have been through so much so I wonder if there is also something to be said for that. People are just very, very proud of their home and I think you feel it here. The people that live here really choose to live here and want to be here. There is a heart in the city like nowhere I have ever lived. It’s pretty incredible and is absolutely unique. I’ve never been to a place that feels like New Orleans.
Lena: It’s beautiful on the show and I love all of the stained glass.
Zoe McLellan: Yes, there is a lot of stained glass. Another thing that I love is that people just do their own thing. There’s not a bunch of people trying to follow a trend here. You don’t see people dressing the exact same way, trying to be cool. You just are cool if you live here. They don’t care either. They just are who they are. In a way, I think it’s a lot like New York in that respect. The people are who they are. There is not any of that phony-baloney business that goes on in other cities. This is the real deal here.
Lena: Are we going to be seeing more of Brody relating to LaSalle (Lucas Black)? I really thought that scene with the necklace and the charm was important to both of your characters.
Zoe McLellan: I hope so. I just have to say that I love working with Lucas Black. We’ve become very good friends. We are both people that want to do better and we both like making people smile. We both love our kids and our families and we are just very kindred spirits in real life. Our characters really connected. We really see each other, we get each other and I hope that we have more moments where we get to really connect on a deep level because I just really love working with him. He’s a sweetheart. I know you hear this all the time but the writers don’t really tell us much. They give us the script and we read it, memorize it, and do it, one at a time.
Lena: They definitely put together a phenomenal cast. What is it like working together?
Zoe McLellan: It’s pretty dreamy. I think there is an awesome chemistry. I think it starts with the fact that Scott Bakula is such a class act, such a good man. He’s so patient and cares. He has such high integrity and he really cares about people. He remembers people’s names when they visit set. He talks with them and takes pictures with them. I think that his energy, because he’s our lead, just spreads throughout. There is no room for BS. He’s just a good guy and that trickles down through the rest of the cast. I think the reality is that we are all just grateful. We know that we are blessed to have a job so we are all just doing our best and we all get along. We adore each other, make each other laugh, and have a good time. It’s pretty dreamy and rare. You know when I have friends and family visit and they ask if all sets are like this. I have to say no, they are not. [Laughing] This is just special. We are all grateful and we don’t take this for granted. We have a really beautiful gift here and we are blessed. We know that.
Lena: I love all of the Star Trek jokes. Any Quantum Leap jokes?
Zoe McLellan: Yes! I didn’t watch Quantum Leap but my dad did and people just love him for that.
Lena: What can your say about upcoming episodes and what we can expect from Brody? Any highlights?
Zoe McLellan: I did speak with the writers recently and said that I want to get more into her current life, current connections to what her life is like right now. What we are currently doing, and pretty soon on air, is her relationship with her mom. Oh my goodness, you bring in anyone’s mom and things just open up. When you meet Brody’s mom Brody will make more sense to you. I feel like in season two where Brody had loosened up, New Orleans will do that to you because everything here is a celebration—eat, drink, and be merry. There is always something going on. There is always a parade or something. That energy I believe is—they don’t take people too seriously here, they play. I think that is starting to sink into Brody’s life a little bit. Of course she still takes her job seriously but she’s growing her hair out, she’s loosening up a bit and when you meet her mom you are going to see why she is the way she is and why she maybe wants to rebel a little bit. I think it will make a lot of sense. Hopefully, with this mom and daughter stuff, a lot of viewers are going to go, “Oh, I get it. My mom is like that or my daughter is like that. I’ve been there.” [Laughing]
Lena: Yes. Annie is a great pick.
Zoe McLellan: She’s so perfect. We had a lot of fun together. We laughed a lot. The director had to ask if he had to pull us apart. There are quite a few scenes were we have a lot of tension and we are supposed to be mad at each other but off camera we were laughing and cracking jokes. There were a few takes were I said, “Oh shoot, I need to be mad at her.” [Laughing] She’s fantastic—a great actress and an awesome woman. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.
Lena: Any other guest stars coming up that you can talk about? I hope that Steven Weber and Stacy Keach come back.
Zoe McLellan: I don’t know who is coming up. They don’t tell us anything. Me too! I think you’ll see them again. I think they are recurring and have to come back. I love them both.
NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on CBS.
Zoe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zoe_mclellan
NCIS: New Orleans on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NCISNewOrleans