As Dr Jimmy Palmer on NCIS, actor Brian Dietzen has gone from a recurring guest star to a series regular - and now - the main focus of a heart-wrenching season 18 plot. But did you know the actor was originally only supposed to appear as a one-time guest on the series?
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The TV star revealed back in 2014 that he was originally scripted as a one-day guest star - and had no idea that his character would become such an integral member of the NCIS family.
In an interview with Paul Semel, Brian explained that when he came in to audition for the part, he made some “really bold choices” believing it was only ever going to be one episode cameo rather than a regular acting gig. However, the then 26-year-old actor managed to impress producers so much that they decided to keep him on.
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“Had it been for a starring role, I would’ve had to test for the network, and if I had done that, I probably would’ve made different choices - and I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job,” he explained.
Jimmy was first introduced to NCIS fans in season one as Dr Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard’s temporary assistant after his previous assistant was shot. While Brian appeared regularly throughout seasons one to nine, it wasn’t until season ten that he was promoted to a member of the show’s main cast and began appearing in the show’s opening credits.
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However, it’s not known how Brian’s character was initially meant to exit the show following his one-episode arc. Given that so many of the series’ guest stars have been killed off over the years, it's likely that the writers had a similar fate in mind for Jimmy. It's equally possible that they could have left the door open for his character to return in the future. Since they knew early on that they want to keep Brian as part of the team, we’ll never know what they originally had in mind!
Likewise, Sean Murray - who has played special agent Timothy McGee since season one - was never intended to be series regular. “Sean’s character McGee was created as a one-time thing. It was just going to be an episode,” producer Frank Cardea revealed recently.
Sean Murray was also supposed to only appear in one episode
“A few episodes later, Sean became a regular. He’s become our rock. And when we have those difficult dialogue scenes, we give it to Sean.”
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