NCIS Star Brian Dietzen Had to 'Emotionally' Prepare for His Character to Lose Wife to COVID-19

Brian Dietzen is opening up about Tuesday's episode of NCIS, during which it was revealed that his character's wife had died due to COVID-19. 

Dietzen stars as Jimmy Palmer, the team's medical examiner, in the long-running CBS drama, and said the producers had warned him of the heartbreaking plotline so he could "emotionally" prepare. 

"I had been told that this was going to happen, that Jimmy was going to lose his wife before I received this script," he told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the episode. "The producers let me know that we want the advent of COVID to hit our team. And yet, we don't want to lose a team member."

"So the prospect of having Jimmy lose his wife, the most optimistic team member lose someone, came to the table and they thought it would be a great storytelling mechanic — albeit very, very sad," he added. "So they went ahead with it. I was notified ahead of time and prepared for it, I suppose, emotionally." 

The NCIS episode marked the first this season that tackles the coronavirus pandemic. Dietzen, 43, said he thinks it was a "smart decision" for the show to include the ongoing health crisis. 

"In the history of NCIS, when major things have happened in our country or in the world, there have been stories about it," he said. "I like the fact that we could take a portion of our season and not have to have those masks around all the time at the beginning of the season, but I felt it was a smart decision to include this major life event."

The actor continued, "We can't pretend that it doesn't exist. It's going to hit the team personally and Jimmy just happened to be the one it hit the most." 

He also told ET that it was "incredibly sad" to film the episode, adding that he will miss working with Michelle Pierce, who played his onscreen wife, Breena. 

"I'm sad she won't be around anymore," he said. "We underused her. I thought she was a wonderful actor and a great character. But I hope that this is a nice love letter to her character and I hope people do enjoy it."

NCIS airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.

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