NCIS' Pauley Perrette is naturally sweet!
Adored by bazillions as NCIS' brilliant, Goth-enamored forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, Pauley Perrette has reigned over the world's most popular scripted show since its 2003 debut. An author, musician and civic-minded activist as well, Miss P. is involved with more than 30 causes and writes and directs videos of her songs, such as “Beautiful Child," penned to raise awareness of The Trevor Project, the LGBT suicide-prevention hotline. To sweeten her overflowing pot of achievements, the New Orleans-born Perrette co-owns Manhattan's Donna Bell's Bake Shop and even co-authored a cookbook in its honor last year. If there's a busier, kinder or more philanthropic actress in Hollywood, we're stumped.
You left the South years ago, but what remains the most Southern thing about you?
Everything! No matter how old or young somebody is, I say "ma'am" and "sir." And hugging is like the Southern handshake, so my character, Abby, hugs everybody, because I hug everybody.
People are convinced you are Abby, and that last statement won't dissuade them. Tell us something about Abs you'd like to be, but just aren't.
She's incredibly focused and put-together, and I'm very much not a put-together person. Abby keeps her lab spotless; I'm sure her house is spotless, too. I can't stand spotless houses! At my home, I've got dogs sitting on the couch with blankets all over the place.
After having a near-death experience on NCIS, Mark Harmon's Agent Gibbs has been a changed man this season. But Abby never changes.
And that's really important! Abby never ages, and always dresses the same. She's like a cartoon character—you don't suddenly want to see Charlie Brown with a full head of hair, right?
You own a bakery but don't eat sugar and you're phobic about ovens. Explain, please.
It's weird that I don't eat sugar and have a bakery, but I gave up sugar twice for Lent and then I was done. My big thing is cheese and beer. As for ovens, as I said on The Late Late Show recently, "It's an irrational fear, so I don't have to explain it!"
Got it! Though you used to perform with the all-girl band Lo-Ball, you haven't played live in ages. What's up?
I have crippling stage fright. My philosophy is that writing songs is like cooking, going into the recording studio (my favorite place on the planet) is like eating, and performing live is like puking.
OK then. … You not only play a criminologist but also have said you've been fascinated by crime your whole life. Why?
My thing about crime—solving them, not committing them [Laughs]—is that I fully believe that life is hard enough. It's beyond my understanding that someone could be so disconnected from the human experience as to do something horrible to make someone's life worse.
Does your sense of justice feed your activism?
Definitely. I went to my first civil-rights rally when I was 17. I was a skinny blond kid driving a Chevette down to south Georgia to protest the KKK. There were guns and SWAT teams and I was terrified, but I never stopped marching. And I'm marching still.
You've been engaged since 2011 to former British Royal Marine Thomas Arklie, and you had vowed not to marry until there was marriage equality. Now that it's here, are y'all set to wed?
On the day marriage became equal I met this dude who'd been with his boyfriend for years, and he'd been deluged with emails asking when they'd marry. He said, "The choice is that we can marry now, but it doesn't mean we have to." Likewise, Thomas and I are superhappy as we are, so … just because we can marry doesn't mean we have to!
Exactly. Listen, in January, Michael Weatherly announced he'd be leaving NCIS at the end of this season. How are you taking the news?
I love him with all my heart. He's my brother and I'll miss him dearly.
We will, too. But the NCIS cast has long been known as one of the happiest groups on TV and we're sure that'll continue, right?
Oh, man, our crew and cast are all insanely fun. Everybody is really funny and, boy, there's a lot of singing going on all the time. NCIS is an utter blast.
Watch all new episodes of NCIS on Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.