NCIS star Pauley Perrette made major change to Abby Sciuto: ‘Wasn’t written that way’

Abby Sciuto (played by Pauley Perrette) was an integral member of the NCIS team for well over a decade until the actress’ departure from the CBS franchise in 2015. Much like her on-screen counterpart, actress Pauley is a practising Catholic and revealed she requested her faith to be incorporated into the character and even requested an entire episode dedicated to the subject.

Actress Pauley revealed she was a major driving force behind Abby’s religion being incorporated into the series.

After joining the series in the backdoor pilot of JAG, Pauley served as the NCIS team’s Forensic Specialist for a staggering 15 seasons.

She quickly became one of the most iconic aspects of the franchise before deciding to depart in 2018.

Over the years, Pauley became so synonymous with the character, that parts of her own personal life were incorporated into Abby’s backstory per her request.


Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto

NCIS star Pauley Perrette made major change to Abby Sciuto: ‘Wasn’t written that way’ (Image: CBS)

Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette

NCIS: Pauley left the series in 2018 (Image: CBS)

When pressed for more details by fellow actress Kristen Vangsness, she recalled: “I was just thinking a lot about it.

“It’s my favourite character I’ve ever played. And I had Abby go to church, this scientist who’s a devout Catholic.

“She’s on a bowling team with nuns and the crosses and everything, and I loved that about her.”

Abby’s Catholic upbringing and sunny demeanour served as an amusing contrast to her gothic style and darker sense of humour.

Antonio Raul Corbo and Pauley Perrette

NCIS: Pauley also incorporated her faith into her Broke character Jackie (Image: CBS)

Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto

NCIS: Abby Sciuto is unlikely to make any more appearances after Pauley’s retirement (Image: CBS)

However, it also led to some crucial moments of development throughout the series and served as a valuable insight into the scientist’s views on her demanding and often traumatic role with the NCIS.

Pauley went on to reveal this integral part of Abby’s character wasn’t actually part of the series until she had been cast.

“In the beginning, she wasn’t written that way,” she explained on Kristen’s Agenda Podcast.

“She was kind of written a little more like a ‘dirty girl’. And I was like, ‘that’s not really for me’.”

Kirsten, who has portrayed Criminal Minds’ technical analyst Penelope Garcia, who clearly took some inspiration from Abby, admitted she took a slightly different approach.

“I think Penelope Garcia was not written as a ‘dirty girl’,” she recalled.

“And then I made her a ‘dirty girl’. So we did the opposite of that entirely! Still sweet, though, you can be the dirtiest girl and still be sweet.”

Pauley laughed and exclaimed “I love you!”, before detailing a similar change she made to her latest role in the CBS sitcom Broke.

“You guys did a whole episode about prayer, didn’t you?” Kirsten asked.

“We did,” Pauley confirmed. “And this is nothing to take away from our insanely brilliant showrunner and our writers.

“But when I joined the show I asked for that one […] I just thought for a primetime sitcom it would be really interesting to have a deep dive into faith.”

The NCIS mainstay has since retired from acting, so it’s unlikely she’ll be making any further appearances as Abby now the series is entering its second decade on screens.

NCIS season 20 continues Sundays on CBS in the USA. A UK release date is yet to be announced.

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