For 15 years, Pauley Perrette played the Chief Forensic Scientist Abby Sciuto on the long-running police procedural NCIS. During her time on the drama, Pauley created one of the most beloved characters in the series’ impressive soon-to-be 20-season run.
Throughout the entirety of her NCIS career, however, Pauley Perrette found her acting success nothing short of unbelievable. Though she was a major television star, she still thought of herself as a farm girl from Alabama.
Considering Pauley’s history leading up to NCIS, though, it’s not hard to believe that she found fame as a fictional forensic scientist – she was perfect for the part!
Pauley Perrette’s Life Before Abby Sciuto
According to Pauley, she found an interest in true crime at the age of 13. As a young girl, she was fascinated by humans’ propensity for violence.
This interest led her to pursue a career in law enforcement. Specifically, she hoped to find a place with the FBI. “I wanted to get my Master’s in criminal science,” Pauley explained to CBS 42. “And then I moved to New York and I was trying to make money to finish my Master’s Degree.”
While attending the John Jay School of Criminal Science, Pauley Perrette made ends meet by working nights as a bartender until the fateful night a passing comment changed her life forever. “I overheard a girl say that she had made $3,000 shooting a commercial, and I was like, ‘Oh, my god! $3,000?!’ I couldn’t believe it.”
From there, her acting career began. For 9 years, Pauley Perrette took small roles, primarily in television. She finally got her big break in 2003, when she auditioned for the role of the quirky caffeine addict Abby Sciuto.
“I thought I was going to be a cop,” she recalled with a laugh. “I’m incredibly blessed. It’s so not lost on me. I’m so incredibly grateful.”
“I am just some redneck from Alabama,” Perrette added. “I don’t know how this happened!”
Why Pauley Perrette Left ‘NCIS’ After Season 15
Sadly, the magical story of Pauley Perrette and NCIS had a tragic ending. Rather than parting ways with the series amicably, Abby Sciuto was written out in Season 15 after a falling out between Pauley and fellow NCIS favorite, Mark Harmon.
It started with a dog bite. Mark Harmon, the actor behind unit leader Jethro Gibbs, brought his dog to work, which then attacked a crew member. The crew member survived the attack but needed medical attention and received 15 stitches.
Following the incident, Harmon continued to bring the dog to the set, allegedly making his fellow cast and crew extremely uncomfortable. According to The Wrap, no one was willing to express their discomfort for fear of losing their job. Eventually, however, Pauley Perrette took the task upon herself.
It’s unknown what exactly was said in the conversation, but we can assume it did not go well, as the two never filmed together again. Two years later, Pauley Perrette left the series. And though it’s said that she was planning to leave before the falling out, the feud with her long-time friend and coworker no doubt made things even more difficult.