It turns out that even some of the longest-running actors in the business struggle from time to time with lengthy dialogue. NCIS star Sean Murray is no exception.
Sean Murray is without a doubt best known for his role as Special Agent Timothy McGee on NCIS. He has been a part of the show now for an incredible 18 seasons. Murray sat down earlier this year with the Chicago Tribune to talk about his role as McGee on the popular military crime show. He even explained how at one point in time he felt like the “worst actor in the world.”
“I’ll give you a good ‘NCIS’ story,” Murray began. “We were doing an episode that was a really heavy McGee episode and there was lots and lots of tech talk, which I’m actually good at because I know and understand a lot of it. But this was an episode where I just had mountains of dialogue in every scene and the pace of shooting television is just go, go, go, go. As soon as you finish a scene, you have to be ready to go on the next one and it might be four pages of dialogue.”
“So I think it was the last day we were shooting the episode, I was doing a scene with Pauley Perrette in Abby’s lab and I had a monologue that was supposed to be very frustrated and rushed. And because of all the dialogue memorization I had done for this episode, my brain just hit a wall. I remember feeling panicked and looking at Pauley after rehearsal and saying, ‘I’m not going to remember a word of this. I can’t do this.”
Pauley Perrette Gave Her Fellow ‘NCIS’ Star a Quick Tip
Thankfully, Sean Murray’s big dialogue scene was with Pauley Perrette, the actress that plays Abby Sciuto in NCIS. She knew exactly what her co-star was going through and how to help.
“And Pauley just kind of smirked and she said, ‘Sean, we’ve all had that happen. Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to take a piece of paper and write your monologue down and I want you to stick it on the computer in front of you and I want you to read it as if you’re saying it to me.'”
“And I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ Because that goes against everything that acting is about! But it became a matter of pure survival; you’re there to get things done.”
In the end, Murray says he did exactly what Perrette told him to do.
“So I did it,” he laughed. “I wrote down the monologue and I stuck it to the computer. I read the entire thing during the scene and I felt like the worst actor in the world.”