NCIS star Cote de Pablo, renowned for her portrayal of Ziva David from season three onwards, initially faced the prospect of missing out on the iconic crime show.

Joining in 2005 and departing in 2013, her exit marked the end of an era for many fans. Despite her eventual popularity, Cote had to overcome initial skepticism from show bosses during her audition.

Following Sasha Alexander’s departure in NCIS Season 3, the show sought a new female lead. Susan Bluestein, impressed by Cote de Pablo’s work on ‘The Jury,’ considered her a wonderful fit.

Bluestein highlighted the ‘instantaneous’ chemistry between Cote and Michael Weatherly during NCIS’ 20th-anniversary celebration. Head of casting Peter Golden vividly recalls Cote’s entrance into the room, expressing the consensus reaction: ‘Oh, my God, who is this woman?’

Initially, NCIS creator Donald P. Bellisario wasn’t entirely on board with casting Cote de Pablo as Ziva. Despite his admiration for her acting, he had a different preference.

However, Cote’s impressive audition left a lasting impression on other show bosses, ultimately convincing Donald to go along with their choice. Executive producer Mark Horowitz noted a parallel with audiences, as Ziva wasn’t as instantly popular as anticipated.

Despite early setbacks, Cote de Pablo’s portrayal of Ziva on NCIS took some time to win over viewers, notably in her connection with Tony.

Fans were upset when Cote left the show in 2013. She did, however, make a surprising comeback in 2019 for Season 17, providing a unique peek into Ziva’s life post-NCIS and bringing her character arc to a close.

Other lead performers, including Michael Weatherly in 2015, Pauley Perrette in 2018, and Mark Harmon in 2021, left as a result of her departure.

By chrysos