When NCIS: Los Angeles premiered in 2009, it was notable for its stars. Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J were both established movie stars while Linda Hunt was an Academy Award winner.
As time has gone on, a few names have become bigger on the show such as Daniela Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen. Interestingly, Renée Felice Smith (Nell) and Barrett Foa (Eric) had very few TV credits before the show started.
However, other cast members do have a score of fun TV roles over the years. Some were on short-lived shows, so it’s easy to forget them, while others were on established hits. Some roles were like their NCIS: Los Angeles characters while others were far different.
For those who love NCIS: Los Angeles, these ten past roles of the actors are a fun trip down memory lane and show their surprising talents outside of playing these top agents.
Elizabeth Bogush as a rich gal, The Mountain
One of the more intriguing NCIS: Los Angeles characters, Joelle Taylor was a teacher who began dating Callen. After she was kidnapped, it turned out she was an undercover CIA agent sent to watch him.
She has popped up a few times, often getting the team into trouble as Callen wrestles with his feelings for her. Bogush has shown some intriguing roles over the years, including on a WB soap.
The Mountain aired in 2004, centering around two brothers forced to fight for ownership of their family’s ski resort. Bogush was Max, the daughter of a rival land developer who fell for one of the brothers.
Watching Bogush hitting the slopes on a board was fun, and she also got some steamy romantic scenes. The series lasted only 13 episodes but it foreshadowed the mix of action and drama Bogush would bring to the Joelle role.
Bar Paly as Helen of Troy, Legends of Tomorrow
Whenever Anastasia “Anna” Kolcheck shows up on NCIS: Los Angeles, it always means trouble for the team. Yet Callen can’t help enjoying the time with the sexy Russian spy.
Bar Paly has been a popular part of the show since Season 6 and an appearance by Anna is fun. But Paly showed an even funnier side on the Arrowverse Legends of Tomorrow series.
In Season 3, a time travel mishap brings Helen of Troy (Paly) to 1930s Hollywood. As before, she nearly starts a war, this time between movie studios.
Rather than take her back to her time, the Legends drop her off in Themyscira. So when Helen returned for the Season 3 finale, she was now an Amazon warrior.
If anyone was perfect for a gorgeous gal turned into an ace fighter, it’s the same actress who brings feisty Anna to life.
Gerald McRaney as a spy boss, Undercovers
Already known for TV shows like Simon & Simon, Major Dad, and Promised Land, Gerald McRaney has been a memorable part of NCIS: Los Angeles as the stern Hollace Kilbride.
The character is finally a regular cast member in Season 13 and likely to continue to be driven crazy by the team’s antics. As it happens, McRaney has experience with that.
Undercovers was a 2010 NBC series about a couple (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe) who revitalized their marriage by returning to their old jobs as CIA agents.
McRaney played their boss, always known for a sardonic put-down and sarcastic line at their antics. It’s almost like a dry run for his Kilbride role.
It’s little wonder the producers figured McRaney could handle Kilbride after McRaney showed he could handle such a role in this short-lived show.
Caleb Castille as a not so princely figure, Tell Me A Story
The newest member of the NCIS: Los Angeles cast, Caleb Castille is fitting in well as the rookie Devin Roundtree. Having been upped to regular status last year, Devin is likely to show his stuff in the coming Season 13.
An intriguing role by Castille was in Season 2 of the CBS All Access series Tell Me A Story. The anthology had modernized takes on classic fairy tales with a crime setting.
Castille’s storyline was a loose take on Cinderella with Ashley Madekwe as a woman tangling with a wicked stepmother and her conniving sons.
Castille played the older of the two sons, an arrogant man who loves to flaunt his wealth and treating Madekwe as the enemy.
There was an intriguing twist to the storyline that changed the view of the character yet Castille showed more edge than he does as Roundtree.
Medalion Rahimi as a princess, Still Star-Crossed
A good recent addition to the team, Medalion Rahimi has sparkled as Fatima Namazi, who’s taking over as the team’s tech expert.
After a few guest star roles in assorted shows (including NCIS: New Orleans), Rahimi landed her first starring role in ABC’s 2017 drama Still Star-Crossed.
Picking up where Romeo and Juliet left off, the series showed the Montagues and Capulets still at war until the prince orders a marriage between the two families.
Rahimi was Princess Isabella, a smart and educated woman who’s probably the best choice for ruler. But as a woman in the 16th century, she has to allow her less capable brother to take the lead.
Given her action scenes on NCIS: Los Angeles, seeing Rahimi dressed in fancy gowns and a crown is a striking change for fans of Fatima.
Eric Christian Olsen as a slacker roommate, The Loop
Even long-time NCIS: Los Angeles fans forget that Deeks wasn’t part of the show when it began. He only debuted as a recurring character in the first season before becoming full-time in Season 2.
By then, Olsen was a TV vet with recurring roles on Tru Calling, Brothers & Sisters, and more shows, all showing his nice charm.
Among them was The Loop, a 2006-07 Fox sitcom set in Chicago. It followed a young man (Bret Harrison) balancing his life working for an aviation company with dating.
Olsen played Harrison’s slacker younger brother and roommate. Most of the comedy involved his lazy ways and yet somehow always landing hot dates.
For those who enjoyed the light-hearted Deeks, it’s funnier seeing him even more laid-back than usual in this goofy comedy.
Linda Hunt as a space cop, Space Rangers
Even though she’s an Oscar winner, Linda Hunt is probably best known as the diminutive yet commanding Hetty.
However, Hunt’s first regular television series role wasn’t that far off from Hetty in character…but as far from L.A. as you can get.
Space Rangers debuted in CBS in 1993, focusing on a team of police/marines who defend a line of interstellar colonies from various criminals.
Hunt played the team commander keeping this unique pack in line. It was notable how, for all their strength and skill, the Rangers were intimidated by this smaller woman.
While the show lasted only six episodes, the role was clearly practice for Hunt taking on the character of Hetty.
Daniela Ruah’s Portuguese telenovela experiences
While some of the NCIS: Los Angeles cast members had ample TV credits before the show, Daniela Ruah wasn’t as known to U.S. audiences before taking on the role of Kensi Blye.
While born in Boston, Ruah’s family moved to Portugal when she was 5. Thus, her early credits came on Portuguese soap operas.
Those included Jardins Proibidos, translated as Forbidden Gardens. Ruah played innocent teen Sara. She then starred as the more conniving Rita on Dei-te Quase Tudo and Daniela on Tu e Eu.
In a way, going from a lovely looking lady to a cunning figure would fit Ruah’s later NCIS: Los Angeles undercover work.
LL Cool J as a death row inmate, House
After coming to fame as a rapper, LL Cool J starred in the hit UPN sitcom In The House. He then focused on movie roles with only the occasional TV part.
One was on a Season 2 episode of Fox’s House. LL Cool J played a death row inmate who begins suffering a strange ailment. This leads to a debate on whether to waste time trying to cure a criminal scheduled to die anyway.
There are complications from how the patient’s tattoos interfere with treatment to the question of his condition may have contributed to his crimes.
LL Cool J was powerful in the role, selling the agony and also some guilt over his actions while justifying it on his background.
It’s a far cry from his heroic turn as Hanna but a good role for the former rap star.
Chris O’Donnell as a troubled lawyer, Head Cases
While his feature film career stalled out, Chris O’Donnell has been much better playing the enigmatic Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles. It’s a lot better than his previous major TV role.
Head Cases was a 2005 Fox series with O’Donnell as a one-time hotshot lawyer who suffered a nervous breakdown. In therapy, he was paired up with an attorney (Adam Goldberg) who suffers from bouts of rage.
Realizing they balance each other out, the pair open a law firm together. The duo has to help the other keep on track while aiding folks in low-level cases.
While O’Donnell seemed to enjoy himself, the show lasted only seven episodes before it was canceled. O’Donnell must feel much better with his current regular TV role.
NCIS: Los Angeles Season 13 premieres 9/8c October 10 on CBS.