Interview: ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ star LL Cool J on doing his own stunts and his ‘bromance’ with Chris O’Donnell

LL: "I try to do the majority of my stunts because I want people to know that I’m invested in the character"

LL Cool J is like a blast of energy when you’re around him; like a human dose of Red Bull. He was so enthusiastic about his work and life that I couldn’t help but get pumped up and smile at everything he was saying.

LL is currently starring in NCIS: Los Angeles as Special Agent Sam Hanna, a former Navy SEAL who now works in the undercover unit of NCIS in LA. At the beginning of this season, he and co-star Chris O’Donnell are are in eastern Europe to rescue Hetty (Linda Hunt), who is trying to convince the Comescu crime family that Callen (O’Donnell) is dead.

I talked to LL at Comic-Con about the bromance he has with O’Donnell, how his character is still a bit of a mystery and how he feels about doing his own stunts.

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NCIS: Los Angeles airs on CBS, Tuesdays 9/8c

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes [There is some irritating noise that goes on throughout the interview, I apologize]

Your partnership with Callen is pretty well established by the first episode.  How did you guys create that amongst yourselves?  Did you guys create a back-story?

LL Cool J: Well, we didn’t create a back-story. I mean, you know, the back-story obviously, you know, Shane is dealing with that but I think that’s about just chemistry in general.  I think when you get in a room with people that you like to talk to usually there’s a vibe or there isn’t, you know? You can’t create a vibe.  The vibe is there.  You go on a blind date, either the vibe is there or it isn’t.  So, we just kind of clicked.  The chemistry is there.  The energy is there.  It made it easier, you know?  

Did you guys hang out any before filming?

LL Cool J: I never met Chris before we started filming the show.  I met him at the table read and then, you know, 15-20 minutes, we were laughing and joking, and it was like we knew each other a long time.  I think that that is the interesting thing about it.  It just really clicked.  I couldn’t engineer it.

So has the bromance evolved into real-life?

LL Cool J: [laughing] The bromance, oh my God.

Yeah, we’re cool, we’re cool.  I mean it’s not like, you know, Chris, we’re totally different though.  You know, Chris is on the golf course and I’m in the gym and the studio.

No golfing for you?

LL Cool J: I mean, yeah, every now and then.  Every now and then in between jelly rolls but yeah, we, you know, we’re very different but we connect and we click, and I think that that’s the interesting thing that we bring to the screen as well.  I think that that makes it kind of interesting because it’s not like him being from the north side of Chicago and Illinois out there in that world and I’m from New York, from New York City so it’s a different thing that we have but it kind of works together.  1+ 1 = 3 when you put us together.

Will we be getting any more back-story on your character this season?

LL Cool J: You know what, I don’t know.  I kind of like the fact that Sam is a mystery.  There are advantages to that.  I get that question a lot right now.  I guess, for the last couple of seasons, we have been focusing on Callen’s back-story but you know, I kind of enjoy the fact that we don’t know a lot about Sam.  For me, it’s just bringing this role to life.  I get to play a former Navy seal, have fun, you know, busting my guns, jump over cars, explode, blow stuff up.  So, I’m good with that.  If we get to find out more about Sam, but I don’t think we need to rush that because hopefully, we want the show to be around for a long time and at some point, you know, we will need somewhere to go.  So, you know, the longer we don’t deal with that now, hopefully, we will be able to deal with that later.

What would you say the biggest difference between season 2 and season 3 are?

LL Cool J: I would say the comfort level and understanding the technical aspects of where we need to be when we’re actually doing the scenes, you know, that part of it.  The tactical aspects of it, handling the weapons, dismantling the weapons, cleaning the weapons, those little things, you become more comfortable and that helps.

In terms of tone or in terms of action, are we going to see any more or less of any of that?

LL Cool J: Well, I think that you can’t win this year with what you did to win last year. I think that you kind of got it always keep it fresh and kind of approach every situation like it’s a new situation.  So, I think that that remains to be seen.  We’re just gonna have fun and hopefully allow the show to flow based on how people respond to the world, you know what I mean?

What has been your favorite scene to shoot so far, if you have one?

LL Cool J:, Well, the other day, I had a cool… I like sliding over hoods. [laughs] I’m not talking about Queens, New York either.  The other day I got to like slide over a trunk of a car chasing this bad, this girl, and she is in a Benz and I’m like sliding over the trunk.  It was crazy.  That was kind of cool.  That was a lot of fun, a lot of fun.

Do you do a lot of your own stunts?

LL Cool J: Yeah, I do most of them.  You know, if a horse or a mule needs to kick me in the head I’ll use a stuntman.  Let him go into a coma but I try to do the majority of my stunts because I want people to know that I’m invested in the character and I want to give them the real experience, you know.  I wouldn’t have a stunt person on the stage rapping for me, you know what I’m saying?  “Yo, go on tour for me. You look like me!” So, I’d rather do my stunts when I can.


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