NCIS’s Cote de Pablo is an old-soul hippie in real life


Cote de Pablo plays bad-ass Israeli agent Ziva David on the hit show NCIS, but in real life she’s more of yoga-addicted Latina homebody with refreshingly down-to-earth views on weight and body shape.

I always describe myself as sort of a hippie. Deep inside, I’m not a glamorous person. I come from a traditional, conservative world.

You don’t seem like a hippie, though.
I always say I’ll be a great older character actor [laughs] because I somehow identify with women who have gone through things, like the women in Stephen Sondheim’s musicals. Maybe it’s because I’m an older soul. I don’t know why at such a young age I could understand where they were coming from. Maybe it was the loss of my country at such a young age. Maybe it does something to you.

So you love food–but you’ve never had a weight problem.
I had lots of issues with my stomach a few years ago. I had wanted to get off the Pill, because I’d been on it for a while and I thought that at some point I would want to get pregnant. So I took a shot of Depo-Provera for birth control. Within two months, voom, I gained fifteen pounds in my belly because it felt like it was pregnant. It was an eye-opener.

It really affected you, didn’t it?
There were two ways of looking at it: You could say, “Oh, God,” and cry about it, or say, “You know what? This is who I am. I’m going to be carrying a little more weight, and I don’t care.” Sometimes nature needs to do what it has to do to get something out of your system. And then, once it’s out, you’re fine.

How long did it last?
It took me about two years to get back on track. I went back on the Pill, and eventually everything went back to the way it had always been. I feel so much better now.

What sort of yoga do you practice?
Four or five days a week, I do open flow Vinyasa [breath-synchronized yoga]. I bring a teacher, who happens to be a great friend, to my house. You look at this woman’s body and you go, “Wow, the benefits of yoga!” You can see that there’s a lift everywhere. And it’s completely natural. There’s nothing fake about her body. I love natural beauty.

In what ways do you identify with Ziva?
My character’s strength is like mine, to a completely different degree. Losing family members because of a war… I have moments when I just have to hold my heart. But I also have to remember that if I played the character from my point of view, she’d be falling apart all the time. She has to keep it together–it’s the world she grew up in.

What were some of the bigger challenges you faced in order to play her?
I had literally forty-eight hours to learn a monologue in Hebrew. That was terrifying. I used to look down on people who were, for example, playing a Latin role, because I could tell that they didn’t speak Spanish. It would get on my nerves. Then I realized, Oh, God, I’m in that place right now. Everything I had judgments on has turned around and bitten me in the butt.

NCIS fans want more quality time between Ziva and Tony [Michael Weatherly]. Are you dating anyone in real life?
I’m in a long-term relationship with [actor] Diego Serrano, and I’m very happy. He’s the worst influence that I have ever had in my entire life, and I love him for it. [Laughs] Every once in a while, he turns to me and goes, “Live a little.” I’ll have chicken with broccoli and he’s like, “What about the chocolate cake?” If it weren’t for him, I’d be the most boring person in Los Angeles.

What do you like to do together?
My partner’s idea of fun is to dress up, get in the car, pump the music, go clubbing. I could not be further away from that. I love being at home, having friends over. For me, a great time is an intimate dinner, candles, fantastic bossa nova in the background, wonderful wine, food, conversation for hours without having to go anywhere. So we balance each other.

[Prevention, print edition, January 2011]

And here’s her recipe for what sounds like a delicious pasta sauce.

“One of my favorite things in the world, and also one of the simplest things to make, uses cherry tomatoes–the ones that are really sweet and really tiny.

“In winter, I heat up a big pan or wok and put in a lot of olive oil and a lot of garlic, pepper, and salt. I get a big yellow Spanish onion, put it in the food processor, and dice it. I throw that in the pan with the garlic and caramelize the onion so it’s nice and brown. Then I cut the tomatoes in half and throw them in, and let all of that cook for a while–I like my tomatoes caramelized with the onions. Put this sauce on top of any pasta, and throw any cheese you want on it. Delicious.”

I like her character on NCIS, especially the sexual tension with Tony (which I hope they don’t consumate until the very last episode of the series). I find it interesting how Cote seems like the anti-Ziva in real life. The Prevention article talks about how she hurt her neck doing a stunt for NCIS and turned to yoga to help with the pain. I can’t picture Ziva doing that.

Plus, she doesn’t seem to be obsessed with being thin and wrinkle-free, like so many Hollywood actresses. If you’re healthy inside, it will show on the outside, and Cote is a great example of that.

Note by Kaiser: I love her! Ziva David is a great television heroine. And I think Ziva and Tony have already consummated plenty. Remember that trip to Paris?



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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43 Responses to “NCIS’s Cote de Pablo is an old-soul hippie in real life”

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  1. Oi says:

    Love this show, really love her! Thanks for the article! She does such a good job of being believable in a very difficult role. I hope she has a long career ahead of her.

  2. Bubbling says:

    I really like her smile…She is beautiful in her own right and seems cool..But I get really scared when I hear these pill horror stories

  3. samihami says:

    Yeah, they left that trip to Paris pretty ambiguous, didn’t they? Hmmm…

    Love her and the character she plays. I hope she has a great career beyond NCIS.

  4. JRenee says:

    Refreshingly beautiful, fan of her work on the show as well.

  5. Justez says:

    Love her character on NCIS, I wish all the actors actresses on that show got more attention, it is quite a popular show, I wonder why they don’t?
    And I do love the Tony and Ziva tension, and how ambiguos it all is, like the writers don’t want that to become centerpoint of the show, but they want it to capture our attention.
    Wish they had done that on House, I do like Huddy, just think it makes this season slightly awkward.

  6. eja102 says:

    she is gorgeous. I love this show.

  7. Gwen says:

    I really like her and a big thanks for the interview – I think it’s the first I’ve ever seen with her :)

  8. Wendy City says:

    I am absolutely obsessed with NCIS. I love this show and even if it is a re-run I will watch it again (I have no life). My daughter loves Ziva. She thinks she is strong and tough. She wants to be an FBI agent.

  9. YT says:

    Love her and her Ziva character.

  10. LolaBella says:

    Love Cote; she’s gorgeous and talented and I hope she continues to have a great career after NCIS.

    NCIS’ ensemble cast is one of the best in the business; a group of very talented actors who play off each other so well they make everything look so effortless.

    Viva Tiva!

    Love NCIS!

  11. Donna Wingfield says:

    I love Cote, Ziva, and NCIS!

  12. Eleonor says:

    She’s got a great body (Ziva looks great in bikini) like to see she’s not obsessed, and happy with her figure.

  13. sasa says:

    I think she is one of the sexiest women around. And I’m a woman.

  14. spotchecker says:

    she has an amazing singing voice. don’t see the show all that often, but i think it was in one of the 2 seasons previous to this past one, where she was doing some sort of lounge act in an [obviously] undercover op. really, really good voice.

  15. freetobe says:

    Talk about an actress! Wow. Talk about an ensemble cast! I also have no life and I watch every single NCIS marathon. Each character is so well developed- Duckie with his rambling tales; Jethro with his tragic filled past. Kudos to the writers.

    Do not get me started. LOVE THEM and Ziva is gorg.

  16. Jeri says:

    She is beautiful. I did notice the weight gain some time back but none of the men that I know noticed it so I guess women are the hardest on each other. Boo to us.

    Agree w/Kaiser that they consummated the relationship, Paris and some other places.

    Great show, great cast.

  17. KatScorp says:

    You people are breaking my heart. I was NCIS obsessed up to mid-season 7 and can quote every episode up to that point; @Wendy City, I’ll give you a run on having no life. I don’t need repeats on syndication… I’ve taped every episode for multiple views.

    But by season 7 I’d had enough. I miss Ducky, Jethro and McGee, but it is the faux-romance between Ziva and Tony that drove me away. I can see no chemistry there and the relationship feels like anvils being dropped on my head. I also love the characters – seperately – but since “Angel of Death” I’ve been getting pissed off by Ziva’s moping over Tony. For me, it destroyed Ziva’s character.

    I miss the show, desperately, but I can’t stand the anvils between Tony and Ziva anymore. Every “angst” scene between them just seems awkward. I prefer to see the bromance between Tony and McGee.

    Thanks for the explanation regarding her belly. Around season five some fans on a message board were bitching about Ziva having a baby bump… but I couldn’t see it.

    Still, I’m pleased that the show is so popular and doing well in the ratings. Wish I could still see it myself :-(

  18. Fi says:

    My cat’s name is Ziva :) That woman is my favorite female character on TV right now.

  19. someone says:

    I ve been a fan of NCIS for a long time, love all the characters…I think Michael is yummy….

  20. LittleDeadGirl says:

    I love her character on the show as well and I really enjoyed her interview. It was refreshing to see she took two years to return to normal … now a days I can’t believe when I see actors getting pregnant and than the moment they have a baby they jump on the tread mill to get back in shape in a week. It’s insane. Spend time with your baby, relax, take a moment to breath. It’s just sad …

  21. sandip says:

    Thank God for the 2010 elections, I was so sick of the ads, I became addicted to NCIS, CSI, and The Closer, these are shows that I have never watched. I now love them and to hell with prime time. love the reruns and love Ziva.

  22. mojoman says:

    Wow she looks like she be Salma’s sister!

  23. Glyrics says:


    HATE TONY. The ep where he was shooting spit balls at her? Spit? AIDS!

    Ziva should maim Tony. Seriously.

    She looks fabulous in bright colors. Perfect

  24. Christine says:

    I LOVE this woman. After Gibbs, she’s why I watch the show. And to know that Cote is just as interesting as Ziva- even better! She is SO striking. Thank you for posting this!!!!!

  25. kris says:

    viva chile!!! nice to see someone representing chile!

  26. Dr. Merkwürdigliebe says:

    NCIS is such a stupid ass show…ahhh…how many navy sailors will they kill today? The only thing more stupid than ncis is ncis:la…

    Pice of crap…

  27. Hakura says:

    For once, I really enjoyed reading an actress’ interview. =) She genuinely comes off very likable and down to earth.

    And she really does have an awesome voice! Not what I would’ve imagined her sounding like, very unique.

  28. JQ says:

    Hollywood should (but won’t) hire more actresses like her. She’s stunning (naturally) and very talented. I hate that half the “stars” out there look like cookie-cutters of each other. It’s a shame.

  29. the original bellaluna says:

    Hand’s (and Botox) needles down, she’s one of the most naturally beautiful women in the entertainment industry today.


  30. ncisfaan says:

    Cote De Pablo looks nasty in this photo, her face in this photo is so strange- like wax, and her acting is really ver stale. Her character is one of the worst on television.
    Hope they replace her soon!

  31. commentsncis says:

    As a chilean she should be ashamed of playing such a racist Israeli character! Chile supports the Palestinian cause.

  32. wtchncis says:

    she looks so weird in this photo! And i’v heard she has a the reputation of being pretty snooty…

  33. claire says:

    –maria. I dig you guys.The characters still,work. Well.

    Claire Studebaker

  34. tania says:

    i love her so much ……and i love the show………..

  35. scubafan says:

    Cote de Pablo looks like a WAX MONSTER in the photo…

  36. giner says:

    cote de pablo is my idol and i love ncis!!!

  37. Lee Taber says:

    I love NCIS and especially Ziva! Her and Tony have a very unique and humerous relationship

  38. ncisfaaan says:

    Cote de Pablo is kind of ugly and lacks in talent.

  39. zivasexy says:

    for all the people who said ziva is ugly,lack of talent,and is a wax monster is just jelous bitches don’t hate on her because she is are sexy ziva

  40. rebecca says:

    Cote de Pablo is the greatest choice for the role of Ziva David. People ask why she has the accent, but I think that it is a really good addition in the Isreali character. And, Cote de Pablo, you really do sound like you know what you are doing when you talk in Hebrew, dont worry about it too much.