Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J play badass federal agents on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” but that bravery isn’t just a front they put on for TV. Both men frequently perform their own stunts on the show, and during Tuesday’s (Nov. 26) episode of the CBS hit, “The Frozen Lake,” they both trained for a particularly complicated fight scene. Zap2it has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process.
“NCIS: LA” creator Shane Brennan tells Zap2it via email that O’Donnell and LL Cool J found out about the “Frozen Lake” sequence, which occurs when their characters enlist the help of a Gurkha, an elite Nepali soldier specializing in knife fighting, to retrieve a missing thumb drive, a week before shooting.
“Like all of the stunts on ‘NCIS: Los Angeles,’ this sequence was painstakingly planned down to the last detail by the writer, the director and the stunt coordinator,” Brennan says. “Key to the fight choreography was Rafael Kayanan, a Sayoc Combat specialist, who worked closely with our team. Chris, LL and guest star Ernie Reyes Jr. rehearsed the complicated fight sequence multiple times prior to filming.”
Although the scene will only last a few minutes in the finished episode, a lot of time and effort goes into planning stunt sequences. “Hundreds of man hours go into planning, setting up and executing a stunt sequence like the one you see,” says Brennan. “The catch word is safety. Every decision we make is aimed at reducing the element of danger for both the cast and crew. Safety is paramount. By painstakingly choreographing every physical move, the chances of injury or mishap is reduced to virtually zero. But sometimes, mistakes do happen.”
Luckily, everything went smoothly during this fight. And O’Donnell and LL Cool J aren’t new to the stunt world: They’ve both done hundreds of their own stunts before. “Both Chris and LL love to do as many of their own stunts as possible. Both are extremely fit and have hundreds of stunts under their belt,” Brennan says. “If at any time they feel uncomfortable with a stunt, we bring in stunt doubles. In this sequence both Chris and LL were willing to do their own stunt work because of the enormous respect and confidence they have in our team. The end result is a spectacular, heart-stopping fight sequence… and just another day at the office for Chris and LL!”
Check out some behind-the-scenes pictures from the filming of the “Frozen Lake” sequence below and in this gallery, and watch the finished product tonight (Nov. 26) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.