She turns up the heat on her style – and sings! – on the new season
Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Cote de Pablo has spent the last four years playing Ziva David on NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service as a no-nonsense low-maintenance woman. But on the show’s season premiere Tuesday, she breaks out a new glamorous style.

Your character on NCIS is usually pretty low-maintenance in terms of fashion, right?

Cote de Pablo: From what I’ve been told, I’m one of the quickest girls in the business as far as getting ready everyday for NCIS. I put on my cargos, my T-Shirt, my microphone, my hair is usually up in a ponytail and I wear very little makeup.

Was it difficult becoming glamorous?
Cote de Pablo: On this particular thing, getting into the dress was not such a big deal, but I had to be taped onto it because it was such a sexy dress that if I made the wrong move, it could fall and parts of my body could be revealed.

What did you think when you saw the dress?
Cote de Pablo: There is no back at all, which is exactly what we wanted. I thought this was sort of a good time for me to glam up the character. We decided we wanted something sexy but long that revealed a lot but wasn’t short or vulgar in any way. It had to be sexy and provocative, but in a long, sexy, sleek way.

How long did the making up process take?
Cote de Pablo: The actual process did not take much longer than my everyday process. We added a dress. We heightened the eyes a little bit. They gave me sultry, jazz music to sing along to and that in itself is such a different thing for the character.

That’s you really singing. Being a Broadway performer in the past, is this something you always wanted to do on the show?
Cote de Pablo: They’ve been toying with the idea for maybe two years of having Ziva sing. From the beginning, I said, ‘No way.’ I think literally you’d be jumping the shark. What else do we have left here? Let’s make the character tap dance and sing … Then Shane [Brennan, executive producer] clearly put it in a way I couldn’t resist.

What did your co-workers say when they saw your transformation?
Cote de Pablo: Everyday, they’d go, (gasps), ‘wow, Cote. We didn’t know you had it in you.’

Your character is such a fighter on the show. Is there anything she cant do?
Cote de Pablo: We’ve never actually seen her love somebody passionately. I’m sure she can, but it’s never been explored. I’d love for that to be explored a little bit more, you know, her emotional side. That’s a really great question and I’m really loving my character, and obviously I would say, No, she can do everything.

NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service premieres at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.