Before Brian Dietzen played an awkward nerd on NCIS, he was, well, he was still playing the awkward nerd. But this time, it was beside Kelly Clarkson and American Idol runner-up Justin Guarini. From the start of his career, this seemed to be the role that Dietzen could portray flawlessly, no matter the genre.
Back in 2003, when Dietzen was just coming into the industry, he tried out for From Justin to Kelly, a musical that starred American Idol’s first two stars. Though the film itself was not successful (earning nominations for “Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie” from the 2004 Razzie Awards), Dietzen, himself, managed to show his potential as a castmate.
The plot centered around a young bartender named Kelly heading down to Florida with her friends for Spring Break. Once there, she meets a boy named Justin and finds herself in a world of romantic trouble. The future NCIS star played the role of Eddie, a college student that wore his cellphone on his belt and searched desperately for his cyber girlfriend, Lizzie.
Sounds like a younger version of a certain medical examiner’s assistant, doesn’t it?
Beyond his portrayal of a nervous yet knowledgeable friend, Dietzen also had to demonstrate his singing and dancing skills for the film. Despite his stage background, the NCIS actor never really performed with music.
“I’ve done a lot of stage work, but not musicals,” Dietzen told Pop Entertainment. “I faked my way through [the audition], and they liked it well enough. So I got cast as [lead] Justin Guarini’s best friend. It was twelve weeks of living in South Beach in Miami. Yes, I did actually sing and I danced a ton in that movie.”
‘NCIS’ Star Credits Career to Maintaining ‘Balance’
A year after his debut on film, Dietzen joined the cast of NCIS as Jimmy Palmer. Since then, he’s been a pivotal part of the team and often keeps more elusive members grounded. But his role on NCIS isn’t the only entry on his resume.
In a past interview, Dietzen credited much of his success to maintaining a balance within his aspirations. That means dedicating as much time to the crime drama series as other personal projects. Though, it’s safe to say he won’t be doing any more American Idol musicals in the future.
“I am going to make the most of it,” Dietzen said. “And I balance that with: I’m also moving forward. Working on my own projects, pushing my career in other aspects. I think the balance between the two is the balance I strive to achieve.”
Besides NCIS and the 2003 musical, Dietzen has also starred in films like Karaoke Man and Congratulations, as well as TV series, such as Perception and Past Life.