The popular military crime show NCIS landed perhaps its biggest guest star ever back in 2016 in the form of First Lady Michelle Obama. But just how exactly did that partnership come about? Well, according to the show’s producer, Charles Floyd Johnson, it was not an easy process.
Johnson explained in a Television Academy interview that the collaboration began when writers pitched a story that involved the organization Joining Forces. Founded by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, Joining Forces provides support for the families of service members in the military. Johnson said that both of the high-profile ladies were interested in teaming up with NCIS to promote the organization.
“Initially, Michelle Obama was going to come to Los Angeles and do a show with us out here,” Johnson explained. “So, then they said that, ‘Well, why don’t you come to the White House?’ We thought, ‘Well, that’s pretty interesting.”
That’s where the whole process started. From there, Johnson said, they would have weekly meeting sessions on the phone with Mrs. Obama’s staff, working out how they were going to do pull off the episode.
“It was the darnedest process. It just took lots of coordination to get it done,” he noted. “But she was game. We got invited to the White House and I think we were the first dramatic show to ever shoot in the White House. I think we shot in the blue room.”
What Happens in the ‘NCIS’ Episode With Michelle Obama?
For anyone interested in going back and watching the episode form themself, Michelle Obama made her appearance in Season 13, Episode 22 of NCIS.
She summons special agent Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon), to the White House for a special meeting. There, they discuss the organization Joining Forces, and how the administration can stay connected to military families.
“We know the sacrifices our military families are making, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Nor do the sacrifices of our veterans,” Obama tells Gibbs during the scene.
Looking back, the show’s producer said that Obama nailed her lines in the very first take. The cast and crew gave her an applaud. Meanwhile, Johnson couldn’t help but smile when he though back on that day.
“Michelle Obama is just one of those people that when she walks into a room and it just lights up,” Johnson gushed. “She is just amazing. And she looked gorgeous. And she was so friendly to the crew. She made it so easy for us.”
The former first lady even joked that once she left the White House in January, she would be available for another acting gig if NCIS needed her.
Johnson recalled with a laugh, “She said to everybody, ‘I’m available in January!'”