Former ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Star Zoe Mclellan Said Mark Harmon Warned Her About 1 Important Thing Before She Took the Role

It’s been a few years since actress, Zoe McLellan, left NCIS: New Orleans. Her character, Special Agent Meredith Brody, left after letting down her team. In real life, McLellan’s exit took a different turn. However, before she ever accepted the job offer, Mark Harmon, the executive producer of the NCIS spin-off, warned her about something that might affect McLellan later.

Zoe McLellan’s casting experience happened faster than most

Mark Harmon and Zoe McLellan
Actor/producer Mark Harmon and actress Zoe McLellan speak onstage at the ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ panel during the CBS Network portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Many actors know the auditioning process in Hollywood can be draining. Even with multiple callbacks — or a pilot — there’s no guarantee of success. Zoe McLellan had a different audition scenario for NCIS: New Orleans.

“I was actually having breakfast with my mom in L.A., and I got an email from my agent saying they wanted to see me that day, just a few hours later, to audition for the role,” she told The New Orleans Advocate.

“So they sent over some sides (or script pages). I didn’t even have a full script, just some audition sides, and as soon as I read the part…Never before have I felt that strongly about a role. I just felt, ‘I need to play her. This is my part.'”

McLellan auditioned for co-executive producer, Gary Glasberg, and director of one of the two pilot episodes, James Whitmore Jr. The NOLA star said her “nerves weren’t as strong” as they felt in other auditions adding, they made her comfortable with the role and the script.

“I’m actually glad I was completely winging it. Usually, you have a little time. You have a whole script, and you have time to think about the character. There wasn’t any of that,” she said. “Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I did feel so great there. There was no time to over-think it.”

McLellan has a common connection to Harmon and New Orleans

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The quick audition process is one thing, but McLellan had another connection to Mark Harmon: the same publicist.

“I just really appreciate Mark’s professionalism,” McLellan said. “[Our publicist] said to me the other day, ‘You are a female version of Mark Harmon.’ I took it as the biggest compliment ever. I work hard. I have a good time, but I do my work,” she said.

Harmon aside, McLellan’s connections to The Big Easy run deep, making this role somewhat kismet. On her maternal side of the family, the actress has family ties to Bohs of Boh Bros. Construction, a NOLA staple.

“My great-grandfather’s brother’s company. My son is actually the seventh generation to have New Orleans blood,” she said.

“I have family in New Orleans. This a return home. I didn’t grow up there, but my great-grandparents lived there. I have a ton of cousins there. It was really great, the transition was made so easily because I had cousins helping me out and showing me around and telling me where to go get this and that and looking at houses. So I feel like I’m home.”

She added that the opportunity to play Special Agent Brody came at the exact right time.

“You know we talked about the meant-to-be thing? Maybe that’s part of it,” she said.

What did Harmon warn McLellan about before she accepted the role?

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The entire NCIS franchise is saturated in work-ethic, led by Harmon’s example on and off-set. There’s only one thing McLellan had to know about the job, and Harmon made sure she understood.

“Mark did warn us, ‘You may have some long hours.’ We have some high standards to live up to,” she said, alluding to the massive success of NCIS before the NOLA pilot came along. McLellan felt ready for the challenge.

“My parents taught me to do your homework and show up to do your job. Yes, it’s play and we’re acting and all that, but this is a job,” she said. “And yes we will have some long hours. That doesn’t intimidate me.”

Considering McLellan stuck around the NCIS: New Orleans set from 2014-206 before landing the part of Kendra Daynes on Designated Survivor. Since its cancellation, she’s starred in two other projects with no more currently lined up.

That said, Special Agent Brody wasn’t killed off like Special Agent Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black). While some reports suggest, McLellan was fired from the show, there’s always a chance she’ll pop back in on her former supervisor, Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula), and his NCIS team. At least, fans can hope.

NCIS: New Orleans returns to CBS on Sunday, February 16.