The latest episode of NCIS: Hawai’i will be a historic moment for the franchise, thanks to guest star Kurt Yaeger. Yaeger is set to make TV history by appearing on all four editions of “NCIS” in distinct roles. This episode will mark the completion of his full sweep. He’ll have appeared across NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, and even NCIS: Hawai’i.
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“Given how long these franchises have been in existence, there will inevitably be some crossover with actors,” CBS talent and casting exec VP Claudia Lyon told Variety. “We don’t have statistics on how often that happens, but I wouldn’t be surprised. There are many actors out there who do one or two of them. But what makes Kurt unique is that he’s done all four.”
However, a noteworthy aspect of Yaeger is his unique combination of being both an actor and writer with a disability. He lost the lower portion of his left leg in 2006 due to an unfortunate motorbike accident. Leveraging his status as an actor and writer – which includes this “NCIS” record-breaking feat. He is also using that influence to create more opportunities for other performers with disabilities.
Yaeger has played a variety of characters across all four versions of ‘NCIS’
Yaeger is also pushing for more actors with disabilities to not be typecast. On the most recent installment of NCIS: Hawai’i, he portrays MSgt. Strand, Jane Tennant’s (Vanessa Lachey) father, in a series of flashbacks. The ‘NCIS: Hawai’i character has nothing to do with disabilities,” Yaeger points out “It’s starting to change where people are like, ‘well, you can play any character.’ I’ve always been able to play any character. 95% of acting is from the chest up!”
In 2014, Yaeger made his first franchise debut on NCIS as Marine Sergeant Freddie Linn. Unfortunate circumstances led to the character losing the use of his legs when a broken body armor plate struck his spinal cord. Despite this setback, he managed to commence an effective skydiving business. In the episode, he uses his forensic expertise to aid federal investigators in identifying who is responsible for distributing defective body armor to overseas troops. In 2019, he was featured on NCIS: New Orleans as Kevin Simms – a law enforcement officer struggling with the aftermath of an incapacitating injury. “We had the second-most number of disabled actors in a single episode of a TV show, and so it won a Media Access Award,” Yaeger recalled of that NCIS: New Orleans episode.
Yaeger’s most singular performance came in five episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles” between 2016-2017 when he played Sullivan — an affable military veteran and leg amputee. However, his character was unveiled to be Ferris – a ruthless CIA officer targeting Kensi Blye for vengeance. “The characters were all completely different,” Yaeger explained. “They had different vibes, different attributes, and different means.”