‘NCIS’ Alum Cote de Pablo Explained Singing ‘Temptation’ On Camera for the Show

by Suzanne Halliburton

Talk about out of NCIS character — remember when Ziva David performed a sexy lounge act as part of an undercover assignment?

It was a memorable NCIS episode, which was why it kicked off season six way back in September 2008. Ziva, played by Cote de Pablo, dressed in a royal blue, backless halter dress, sang Temptation. She sizzled as she performed the Tom Waits tune on stage at a bar in Morocco. Ziva was working undercover. After she finished the song, a bomb exploded in the bar. Back in the United States, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) watched footage of the explosion and noticed Ziva on a stretcher. He frantically called her father, Eli David (Michael Nouri) to make sure she was OK.

More than a dozen years later, it’s still a fun anecdote to tell for de Pablo. She filled in some of the details in a September 2019 interview for the streaming BUILDseries.

This wasn’t the first time de Pablo sang on camera. But it was the first time NCIS revealed such a sensual side of Ziva.

“My background was the theater and my background was, specifically, music theater,” de Pablo said. “So I felt very comfortable singing. When that episode was written, it was oh, ‘we want Ziva … we want her to sing.’ And I was like WHAT! She’s a killer, not a singer. And they were like, ‘she’s got many talents.’ I guess the only thing to do at this point is to just embrace (it). If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it well.

“I remember, I fought it a little bit. I was like Really? She’s really good at kicking butt, but singing? Really singing? For a person who sings, asking that person to sing badly is like asking someone who dances to not dance on beat.”

So for your NCIS viewing pleasure, do you think Ziva sings well?

Even With Her Background, de Pablo Had To Do NCIS Pep Talk Before Scene

The former NCIS star said she gave herself a pep talk to ready for the scene.

“I was thinking, obviously, if she sings, then she doesn’t sing well,” de Pablo said. “That was my first thing. I can’t make her a singer. But Cote, just sing the song. It turned out to be a really fun moment. I enjoyed it tremendously. And the fans really liked. And we were like ‘I guess she speaks eight languages and she sings.’ And she goes around with guns and she does many things.”

Yes, Ziva David did many things well. De Pablo spent eight seasons with NCIS, then returned from the dead in the season 16 finale and for season 17.

Cote de Pablo wasn’t kidding when she said she studied musical theater. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. In 2005, she was preparing for her Broadway debut in Mambo Kings, but producers shut down the show.

So, yes, it’s true. Part of the NCIS Ziva David persona was being good enough at singing to convince people she was a nightclub performer. And to paraphrase de Pablo, that does kick butt.

Here’s the rest of her interview: