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How Cote De Pablo Differs From Her Character On NCIS

While it seems like some actors were born to play certain roles, the reality is that no one is exactly like the people they play on screens. Some do share more traits than others with their fictional counterparts, beyond just a physical resemblance of course. Others couldn't be more different than the people they portray, which makes their performances all the more impressive.

On NCIS, most (but not all) of the actors on the series haven't had backgrounds working in law enforcement or criminal justice, but that hasn't stopped them from bringing their characters to life convincingly. In the case of Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), the character and the actress who played her were extremely different from each other. 

That may come as a surprise to fans of de Pablo, whose role on NCIS won her Imagen and ALMA awards and made her one of the most popular TV actresses of 2011, according to Entertainment Weekly. In the fifteen years that Ziva appeared on the series — including guest roles after she departed in 2013 — fans got to know the character so well that she likely felt real to many of us, which is a testament to how de Pablo convincingly pulled off the role of the Israeli Mossad officer turned NCIS special agent. However, since there were some significant distinguishing factors between Cote de Pablo and the NCIS character she played, let's take a look at what made them so different.

Cote de Pablo and Ziva David had different backgrounds

One of Ziva David' defining characteristics on NCIS was the fact that she was Israeli — it served as a major part of her backstory and her trajectory as a character on the show. So it might be shocking to some fans to learn that Cote de Pablo is actually Chilean American, and that she spent a large part of her childhood in the United States (via Latinos Post). De Pablo was also raised Catholic, so she and her NCIS character don't share a religion, either. While that may not matter for many roles, it does seem pretty notable in this case. 

The differences between the actress and her character don't stop with their upbringing, though. While Ziva David always seemed like a natural when she was handling her weapons on NCIS, Cote de Pablo struggled quite a bit getting used to using her character's gun. That's because she had a longstanding fear of these weapons, that even some training didn't completely help assuage. She told Gayle King in a 2013 interview that the first time she held a gun at a shooting range while prepping for NCIS, she was so nervous she was trembling. It's safe to say she probably would not pursue a career in law enforcement — yet another difference between herself and her NCIS counterpart.