Powell native to appear on CBS drama ‘NCIS’

Posted 3/31/16

Cummings has previously appeared on TV — including seven episodes of “General Hospital” — but “it’s always a treat just to get to be on a set,” he said this week.

“It definitely doesn’t lose its excitement at all, because you …

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Powell native to appear on CBS drama ‘NCIS’

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A Powell native has landed a guest spot on the country’s most popular television drama, though it might be his last Hollywood role.

Daniel Cummings will portray a sheriff’s deputy in the Tuesday, April 5, episode of “NCIS.”

Cummings has previously appeared on TV — including seven episodes of “General Hospital” — but “it’s always a treat just to get to be on a set,” he said this week.

“It definitely doesn’t lose its excitement at all, because you don’t get to do it that often,” Cummings said.

CBS’ top-rated drama, “NCIS” stars Mark Harmon as the leader of a fictional response team in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. (It’s an actual federal law enforcement agency that investigates felony crimes affecting the Navy and Marine Corps.)

In the upcoming episode, criminals steal the identity of one of NCIS’ special agents and pose as him to blackmail U.S. senators.

As for where Cummings’ mustachioed deputy fits into things, “you’ll see on Tuesday: My investigative skills are top of the line,” he offered with a laugh.

“It was kind of the right role,” he said. “A little more comedic, which I feel like is more of a strong suit of mine.”

Those unfamiliar with “NCIS” might think of it as a somber procedural drama, but “the show’s actually got a lot of comedic undertones and banter through it,” Cummings said.

“NCIS” is now in its 13th season and CBS says it draws an average audience of more than 20.4 million viewers. For context, that’s like every single person in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and the Dakotas — plus 5 million of their friends — tuning in each Tuesday.

Despite their fame, Cummings said the “NCIS” stars were friendly, outgoing and down-to-earth. He compared the cast to a big family where “you kind of get to be a little adopted member for a day.”

“Everybody just took the time to come up and introduce themselves, and it just kind of makes it feel like a day at work, like a new job,” he said.

The role comes just as Cummings prepares to change the direction of his career; he, his wife Jessie and their three children plan to soon leave Los Angeles and relocate to Denver.

Cummings intends to continue his voice acting — he’s lent his voice to films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” BlackBerry’s 2013 Super Bowl ad and promos ranging from the NFL Network to Hulu — and he isn’t swearing off the on-camera acting he loves.

However, Cummings generally wants to refocus on writing and directing independent films. He said he’s realized he wants to put his creative energy into projects he can create and shape from start to finish.

As an actor, he said “you can’t will yourself into success” in the way you can behind the camera. Working in acting is also unpredictable and requires sacrifice and dedication — even more so if you “make it,” he said. After watching some of the struggles of successful actors, he said “the sheen of that (being a star) kind of wears off.”

Cummings hopes to start with short films in Denver, then try some low-budget features and eventually work his way up to larger productions. He says he’s starting from “I won’t say square one, but two or three — where making a feature for a million bucks is like square 250.”

“Even if you have a much smaller audience, to be creating something and having the ability to finish it, that’s really exciting. And it took me a long time to realize that,” Cummings said, quipping that, “It’s very easy to just get your eyes fixed on one thing — especially when you’re in a city where, every time you’re about to try something new, you book a role on ‘NCIS.’”

Cummings had gone through about a dozen unsuccessful auditions with the casting agency that ultimately tabbed him for the spot as Sheriff’s Deputy Hicks.

“The day that I got the word that I got the role was kind of the same day that we had decided as a family to kind of shift directions,” he said.

It sounds like a Hollywood script: The kid from a small Wyoming farm town moves to L.A. and, after seven years of hard work, is about to give up on his dream of becoming a star when he suddenly catches his big break.

But as much as he felt he belonged on the set of “NCIS” — and as cool as Mark Harmon’s car looked and as great as the catering tasted — it didn’t sway Cummings from his new course.

“I think it took finally getting to the point of being successful, and not having it be kind of a obscure dream to realize that wasn’t really the thing that I needed to be doing,” he said.

“NCIS” airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday on local CBS stations.

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