‘NCIS’: Why Mark Harmon Says Brian Dietzen Is ‘Underappreciated’
Brian Dietzen has been playing “NCIS” medical examiner Jimmy Palmer since 2004. He has delighted fans ever since he appeared in his first “NCIS” episode, titled “A Split Decision.” Co-star Mark Harmon is also impressed with the actor. However, he says Dietzen’s work is sometimes underappreciated. Here’s why.
David McCallum says Brian Dietzen is a skilled actor
During an interview with CBS about “NCIS” season 3, David McCallum spoke about Dietzen’s skill and professionalism. McCallum says collaborating with his co-star is always a satisfying experience:
When you have someone with whom you play a scene, and it bounces back and forward—they listen to you, you listen to them–and the [scene] builds, it’s the most delightful and wonderful form of doing a scene. When everything is ticking along, and no one is really thinking about words and ideas. It’s just happening. I have the pleasure with Brian Dietzen, who does that when playing Mr. Palmer. He is a consummate actor who just knows how to bounce things back and forward. And of course, he’s my straight man and I get the gags.
Why Mark Harmon says Brian Dietzen is ‘underappreciated’
Harmon discussed with CBS some of the actors and what they each bring to the table. Harmon says Dietzen brings something valuable to the television show through his portrayal of Jimmy Palmer. According to him, Dietzen is underappreciated because of his knack for making a complicated role look effortless. “To some degree I think [Dietzen] is usually underappreciated,” Harmon said. “He makes a really difficult job look easy.”
Brian Dietzen says he has fun on the ‘NCIS’ set with David McCallum
If it looks like Dietzen is having fun while playing the role of Jimmy Palmer, it’s because he is. During that same CBS interview, the actor says he enjoys his time working with McCallum. “The chemistry between David and I is so fun because I’ve never worked with someone who is so willing to rehearse before every scene,” Dietzen told CBS. “Just playfulness and his theatre background help out so much, and his experience… I have 50 years of stage experience across from me. It’s fantastic.”
Dietzen said he felt like a rookie when he first came to the show and worked alongside McCallum. However, the benefit of working with the seasoned actor was that he was able to learn and ask questions. “So, I’m learning on camera,” Dietzen said. “Jimmy Palmer is learning from the veteran, and he’s asking questions about autopsies, he’s asking questions about this and that. And as an actor I get to do the same thing. It’s great.”
How Brian Dietzen prepares for his ‘NCIS’ role
Dietzen tells CBS he and McCallum make an effort to prepare for each autopsy scene. One key to their success is getting to the set early:
One thing that’s different from this set than other stuff I’ve worked on is that every time David and I have a scene where there’s quite a bit to do, we’re both very eager to get in here, even before directors or other actors or anything like that, and just bounce ideas back and forth and work things out prior to a scene, which has been not just educational but also benefits our performances. The two of us really get to have a fun dance around these bodies in these three separate little sections of autopsy tables.
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