NCIS: LA Star Laughed for 20 Seconds When We Asked This Question

ncis los angeles daniela ruah

NCIS agent: “Federal agents!”

Suspect across the street: [Does double-take, turns and runs]

Agent, sighing: “Why do they always run?”

The scene above was from ~275 of the 307 episodes that CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles has aired to date.

And the question, NCIS agent, perhaps isn’t, “Why do they always run?” but “Why do I always announce myself from 50 feet away?”

The other day, I brought that question to NCIS: LA vet Daniela Ruah, who happened to direct exactly such a scene for the episode that aired Nov. 6….

TVLINE | Dani, I’ve got to ask you this. Tell me the truth. Why do you all yell “Federal agent!” from across the street, giving the POI the chance to run? Do you as actors ever ask that?
[Ruah bursts out laughing, for a full 20 seconds….] Yeah. That’s why I’m laughing. It’s so odd!

TVLINE | Why not just mosey up like you’re asking them for directions to, like, the Hollywood Bowl? And then announce yourself.
Yes…. Yes. I mean, I can defend this in a myriad of ways, but at the end of the day, yes. There’s always that aspect of like, “Why would you yell ‘federal agents!’ from across the street when they can just run away in that moment, and get a head start on you?” I’m not even going to pretend that that’s not true. But I think that, with television, it’s just a question of suspended disbelief. Like, sometimes [that trope] helps to establish geography and show the place you’re in and the environment you’re in. I think that you could creatively explain it in myriad ways, but at the end of the day, logically, no, of course.

Rountree and Deeks practically begging a POI to flee
Rountree and Deeks practically begging a POI to flee, in the Nov. 6 ‘NCIS: LA’ directed by Daniela Ruah (Paramount+ screenshot)

TVLINE | At the very least it gives us a fun chase scene where, you know, an agent comes from around a corner and ends up clotheslining the bad guy.
There you go! You can’t clothesline a bad guy from around a corner if they don’t have a chance to run away from you in the first place.

But I was laughing because that question has been brought up by me and by multiple other cast members, when we’re actually in front of the camera. And then as a director, I end up doing it too. I don’t know what to tell you, Matt! Why the heck would we call this guy from all the way over here when we could just, like, creep up on him. But then as a director I’m like, “Ooh, this is really pretty shot…. We should do this!” [Laughs]

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