NCIS: Los Angeles stars find love after nine years

After years of waiting, NCIS: Los Angeles actor Barrett Foa is finally feeling the love.

This season, Eric Beale, the nerdy tech whiz he has played on the drama for 10 years, gets his girl, NCIS intelligence analyst Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith).

“These people have known each other nine years and we don’t even know if they have kissed or not,” says Foa, of what has been one of TV’s slowest burning relationships.

“However, we get fast-tracked this season and Eric and Nell move in together.”

The 41 year old, who is also making waves on Will & Grace as the new love interest for Will (Eric McCormack), is happy with the change.

“Anything I get to do with Renee Felice-Smith – and off camera as well – is just gold. We have so much fun together. We make each other laugh on and off screen.

“Every time there’s a Nell and Eric theme we just fly through it.

“We don’t have to do a million takes. We know exactly what marks to hit. I so love working with that woman.”

NCIS: Los Angeles, a spin-off of NCIS, follows the undercover cases of Special Agent G Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and his team – field agents Kenis Blye (Daniela Ruah), Sam Hanna (LL Cool J), Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), Shay Mosley (Nia Long) and backroom experts Jones and Beale – who all work under the guidance of operational manager Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt).

This new season picks up right where season nine ended, with Callen, Sam, Kensi, and Deeks unconscious and trapped in a burning vehicle after an off-the-books mission to Mexico goes horribly wrong.

It makes for a tense start to what Foa says is a season full of surprises.

“I’ve just read an episode that’s coming up that is like nothing we have ever done on the show before.

“It just gets really serious and some huge **** happens,” he says, adding there are also some more big changes in store for Eric.

“In season 10 – I don’t think this is a spoiler – Eric is applying to be a special agent so my character might actually be in the field a little bit more.”

Eric Beale, action man, will be something new for Foa, who cut his teeth as an actor in musicals on the New York stage and admits to still being a little bemused to find himself now living in Los Angeles and working in television.

“I thought I would be in New York forever, having been born and raised there and moving back right after college with all my college friends,” he says.

Success came quickly for Foa whose first role was as Jesus in an off-Broadway production of Godspell. Then came Mamma Mia!, and lead roles in Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

“It was all fast and furious and then there was that question, ‘You’ve been the lead in two Broadway shows, what’s the next step?’

“I didn’t want to take just anything. I thought, ‘I can be picky now. I think this is the time to go to LA’,” Foa says of his change in direction.

“I thought, ‘This is going to be a couple of months. I am going to scratch this itch and then get on a plane back’. I always thought I was going to be a New York Broadway kid and now I’ve been a television guy for as long as I’ve been a New York Broadway kid.”

Despite the huge success of NCIS: Los Angeles, Foa admits he misses the thrill of performing in front of a live audience.

“I still crave it like a frickin’ junkie. I seek it out whenever I can,” he says, admitting to spending his hiatus from filming NCIS: Los Angeles seeking out any opportunity to perform on stage.

“I will always, in my heart, be a stage actor.”

Ironically, it was Foa’s Ovation Award-nominated performance in the stage show Sweet Charity last summer that led him to score his Will & Grace role as a fellow teacher who attracts Will’s interest.

“The show runner for Will & Grace came to see the show and then cast me as Will’s new love interest so it’s really nice to not only scratch that theatre urge but to know that it always leads to other things,” Foa says.

“Who knows what’s next for Eric Beale or for Barrett Foa?”