Cote de Pablo Reveals the “Best Part About Playing Ziva” on ‘NCIS’

Cote de Pablo, rising from the ashes to reclaim her role as Ziva David on NCIS, is one of the most admired actresses ever to grace the CBS procedural. When Cote de Pablo left NCIS, the showrunners were confident that her departure would lead to a decrease in ratings; thus, she was offered quite the impressive sum to stay.

Cote de Pablo
Cote de Pablo | Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

While the show managed to keep on kicking – with Mark Harmon holding the reigns as both the lead actor and an executive producer – fans wondered if and when Cote de Pablo would return to her role as the former Mossad Agent. To the surprise of fans spanning the globe, Cote de Pablo appeared as Ziva David at the top of Gibbs’ staircase in the final moments of the season sixteen finale.

Though she departed the show way back in 2013, she walked onto the scene as if she had never left, warning Gibbs of imminent danger, seemingly ready to take on the challenge as his protector. Cote de Pablo, though once citing a lack of respect on behalf of her character, in terms of narrative complexity, played Ziva David for nine years. Thus, it’s no surprise that she loved a great deal about portraying the character.

During an interview with Extra, Cote de Pablo discussed what it’s like playing Ziva David, the honor it is to star on such a successful show, and what she’s loves most about portraying the former Mossad Agent.

Cote de Pablo likes playing a “killer girl” on NCIS

During her interview with Extra, Mario Lopez asked Cote de Pablo, “what’s the best part about playing Ziva?” Cote de Pablo replied,

“The fact that I get to be kind of a killer girl. That I get to kick some butt, and usually, men’s butts. And, I’m sure all of you girls [speaking to the audience] would agree that that’s fun.”


Cote de Pablo, portraying a butt-kicking female agent on NCIS, took on this role way before Marvel every got around to casting a woman as a lead hero. Cote de Pablo got to play the hero; she was given the chance, and will likely be given the chance again, to play the most skilled fighter on the show.

Despite working alongside several tough men, everyone knows not to mess with Ziva. Not to mention, back in the early 2000s, it still was a very under-represented female characterization being employed.

What will Cote de Pablo’s role on season 17 of ‘NCIS’ entail?

So far, the writers have confirmed that Cote de Pablo will appear in the season seventeen premiere; however, her role, beyond that, is still largely unknown. Given that Cote de Pablo was unsatisfied with her character’s narrative when she exited the series, it’s unlikely that a small and inconsequential role would bring her back.

The most logical assumption running: Cote de Pablo will appear throughout season seventeen as a guest star. However, when she appears, she will be vital to the episode, and her overall existence will play a major role in sculpting the new season’s plot trajectory. It’s likely that she will start as a guest star; however, if everything goes well, she may just return to the show as a series regular.

If Cote de Pablo returns as a regular, her role would likely be pivotal to show’s progression and, once again, integral to the dynamics between the characters on the show. It will be interesting to see how Ziva’s relationship unfolds with the new characters, and how she rebuilds her dynamics with McGee and Gibbs.