Cote de Pablo Reveals Exactly How ‘NCIS’ Producers Got Her to Return as Ziva

NCIS fans never expected Cote de Pablo to return as Ziva David when she left NCIS way back in season 11. The season 16 finale of NCIS, of course, changed that when Ziva shockingly appeared inside Gibbs’s (Mark Harmon) basement. Ziva’s epic return continued in the season 17 premiere, and de Pablo recently revealed how producers convinced her to reprise her role five years after her departure.

NCIS Ziva Cote de Pablo
‘NCIS’ Ziva (Cote de Pablo) | Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

De Pablo discusses Ziva’s return

Ziva played an important role in the season 17 premiere, titled “Out of the Darkness,” as she and Gibbs attempted to eliminate the threat that drove her into hiding in the first place.

The character is set to appear in five episodes this season, so her story will continue well beyond the opening installment.

In an interview with ET Online, de Pablo opened up about returning to the hit crime procedural, revealing exactly how NCIS producers convinced her to return after all these years.

The actress explained how producers asked her if she was open to reprising the role in a future season. De Pablo said that she is open to the idea, which prompted them to put her in contact with Gina Monreal, the writer who was tasked with developing Ziva’s new storyline.

After several discussions with Monreal, which answered a lot of questions about Ziva’s arc, de Pablo fell in love with the story and immediately agreed to return.

“Gina is very easy to talk to, and she is very invested in the character…” de Pablo shared. “She’s a very strong writer and a wonderful person with a huge heart, so I knew I would be well taken care of and I knew that the character would be respected and loved.”

De Pablo added that she loved what Monreal came up with for the NCIS season 17 premiere. She also had a blast filming the episode and cannot wait for fans to see what else is in store for Ziva.

What did Cote de Pablo reveal about Ziva’s past?

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding Ziva’s NCIS story regards what she has been doing the past five years. In her interview, de Pablo revealed that Ziva has been working as an undercover agent to keep her family safe.

The NCIS star also explained how only something very serious would get her to come out of hiding. After all, coming out of the shadows puts her loved ones in danger.

After discussing things with Monreal, the two agreed that there were only three characters that could make Ziva break her cover: Tali, Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), and Gibbs, in that order.

We already know that they settled on Gibbs, whose life is now in danger. We have little doubt that Gibbs and Ziva – with a little help from their friends – will be able to save the day, but a lot of questions about Ziva remain.

For starters, everyone on the NCIS team thought she was dead, which means she has a lot of explaining to do once the dust settles. There’s also Ziva’s family she has to worry about. After the threat is gone, Ziva should be free to reunite with Tali and Tony.

This potentially sets us up for an epic reunion between Ziva and Tony, a subject de Pablo also discussed in the interview.

What about Tony?

De Pablo revealed that she frequently communicates with Weatherly, who is currently starring in his own series, Bull.

In what might be the best news of the year, the actress also explained how they are both up for reuniting their characters on NCIS, it is just a matter of timing.

“When Michael and I talk, and we talk very often, we laugh and we say, “Oh my god, do you think these characters will ever see each other again?” And the answer is always, yes, we’re just wondering where and when,” she stated.

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De Pablo noted that they also have to coordinate schedules to bring Weatherly back. This could prove difficult considering Weatherly’s show films at the same time as NCIS.

We have no idea if a reunion is in the works for season 17, but it is definitely exciting to hear that they are both ready to make it happen.

As for the rest of Ziva’s story in season 17, de Pablo assured fans that her episodes will answer most of the questions related to her past. De Pablo would not commit to anything beyond that, but it sounds like season 17 is just the start.

Fans can catch Ziva in action when new episodes of NCIS air Tuesday nights on CBS.