Believe it or not, it’s May and in the TV watching universe, that means shows are about to hit fans with some of the biggest episodes of the season. Starting tonight,turns up the danger, the drama, and the emotion with the first of its final three episodes of Season 13.
In “Homefront,” the action takes place on three fronts. Director Vance and Senior FBI Agent Fornell head to London to deal with the case involving the British spy on the loose. He’s targeting NCIS agents. Tom Morrow — the agency’s former director — is already gone.
Meanwhile, Gibbs heads to the White House for a meeting with the First Lady of the United States. Yes, Michelle Obama makes a guest star appearance in tonight’s episode. And finally, the case of the week involves a 14-year-old (About a Boy’s Benjamin Stockham) who thwarts a home invasion. It’s an investigation that’s personal for McGee as well as the actor who plays him,.
“Filming this episode, it meant a lot to me,” said Murray in a recent phone interview with Seat42F. “This teen in the family, he’s used to having his father deployed for six months to a year at a time.”
This story hits close to home for the actor because of his own family’s military background. “I grew up on military bases,” he revealed. “My father is a retired 30-year Navy Captain. On the show, McGee’s father is an Admiral in the Navy. Some of that came from real life. Some of that came from the character as it went on.”
Murray said it became personal for him from the moment he read the script. “It got to me because it brought up a lot of stuff personally. It was about so much of what I grew up with so it was kind of amazing in the episode to have McGee who grew up with that same thing.”
With a few differences, that is. “McGee had an estranged relationship with his father and it’s a little more complicated. Personally my father and I get along just fine. Actually quite well.”
The opportunity for his character to bond with the teen turned into an invaluable experience. “It’s funny during the filming of that how, sometimes, it felt like I was just kind of cozying up to a buddy and talking to him about my youth.”
One of his favorite moments in “Homefront” happens when McGee and the teen are at a diner. “Kind of sitting, having a meal, having a one-on-one with him. Kind of trying to feel him out. One of their initial meetings where he’s trying to get to know the character and trying to bond with him a little bit,” Murray teased. “That was something for me. I hope it turns out as well as it felt.”
He thinks viewers will get more of a sense of what it’s like to grow up in a military family. “People don’t understand. They always think about the person in service. And sometimes people don’t realize their family — that’s a whole thing to deal with,” he explained. “There’s a lot of things there and conditioning that comes with being a part of a military family. It’s a very interesting thing and a lot of people out there don’t experience it. It’s kind of a neat perspective.”
Murray’s grateful that after 13 seasons of the series, his character is still evolving. Fans continue to learn new things about McGee. “We talk about this stuff all the time. For us, that’s what it’s about. It’s almost unlimited,” he said. “The character’s changed a lot over the years. It’s something that I’ve pushed over the years that they’ve been receptive to and it’s been a really nice, natural progression. It’s turned out to be something neat.”
Another cool thing about “Homefront” is the presence of Michelle Obama. “It’s pretty insane, you know? It’s surreal,” said a shocked Murray. “I remember hearing about it, you know the whispers about it behind the scenes, and initially I thought it was either a joke or they were talking about some stock footage or I misheard something.”
It was no joke. The first lady’s appearance is much more than stock footage. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get to be a part of it. I wish I could have. It was shot on location in the White House with Michelle. It wasn’t just some shots of her. It was a real scene with dialogue and the whole thing. I know she’s done that sort of stuff before but, for me, it’s unbelievable to think the First Lady of the United States wants to appear on our show!”
Our interview with Murray continues next week when he teases the show’s finale, talks about the great McGee/DiNozzo friendship and, of course, Michael Weatherly’s departure at the end of this season:
“It’s funny because people say, what was it like to say goodbye to Michael? And for me, it’s like, well, I’m not saying bye to him. Michael is my best friend.”
You can catch “Homefront” when NCIS airs tonight at 8/7c on CBS.
Credit : Tina Charles