Before our intrepid TV Club correspondents traveled to this summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, we asked readers to submit questions that we could pose to the TV pros attending the event. (And we made one up ourselves.) With those questions and the answers they prompted, we bring you the TV Club Questionnaire.
Given that she’s been playing the role for a dozen years now, it would be easy enough to forget that Pauley Perrette actually began her acting career before NCIS made its debut in 2003. In fact, Perrette has been a familiar face on the small screen since the mid-1990s, earning her first significant break when she picked up the recurring role of Gwen in season two of ABC’s Murder One. For the majority of viewers, however, Perrette remains known first and foremost for her work as Abby Sciuto on NCIS, which kicks off its 13th season this week.
If you could be working on any other television series currently on the air, which one would it be, and why?
Pauley Perrette: John Walsh’s The Hunt. Because America’s Most Wanted was my favorite show ever. And now he’s got The Hunt on, and I just want to help John Walsh catch bad guys. For real.
The A.V. Club: So would you be a co-host, or would you actually go out in the field and on the hunt?
PP: I actually went out in the field with America’s Most Wanted a couple of times. So, yeah, I’d go on the hunt!
What are your earliest memories of TV, and did they have any bearing on you wanting to have a career in TV?
PP: I actually did not grow up watching much TV and film. I had a very, very, very, very, very, very church family, and a lot of, like, secular stuff was not around my house.
AVC: So what made you want to go into a career in TV?
PP: It was an accident! I was studying sociology, psychology, and criminal science in college, and I wanted to be a cop. And I accidentally became an actress. [Laughs.]
What efforts do you take to promote diverse viewpoints, and how do you think that has affected storytelling, either on your show or the television medium as a whole?
PP: My life is about being a civil rights activist. That’s my life. Whoever you are, everyone, we either have civil rights or we don’t. It’s for everyone. I went to my first civil rights rally when I was 17 years old. I was a little skinny blond kid, scared to death, marching against the KKK in South Georgia, and there were S.W.A.T. teams everywhere. And I have never stopped marching in protests since. Not ever. I mean, LGBT rights, women’s rights, the rights of people of color… I’m your guy. [Laughs.] I’m going to be out there marching!
If you could add something to the show you’re working on, without anyone knowing about it beforehand and free from any consequences from upset co-workers/networks/viewers, what would it be?
PP: [Hesitates.] Even if it upsets people?
AVC: Based on the phrasing, yeah.
PP: Oh, I know everyone hates this, but I say all the time, “Can we just write an episode where Abby gets her neck tattoo removed?” [Laughs.] Because after 14 years of putting that sticky mess on my neck all the time, over and over again… Yeah, I would ask for the tattoo to magically disappear.
If any character from your show could be given a spin-off, who would it be and what would be the premise of the new show?
PP: I think it would be Abby. Abby saves the world! [Laughs.]
AVC: In what capacity would she save the world?
PP: In all capacities! Abby saves the world, humans and animals!