"NCIS" Star Cote de Pablo, on the Pleasures of Kicking Men's Behinds on TV

Remember the name: Cote de Pablo. The 29-year-old chilena plays a multilingual weapons expert on the CBS crime drama, NCIS, and she's a natural beauty with a kickass personality, to boot. I asked de Pablo to pay Vivo Por TiVo a visit, and we talked about her singing debut on the new NCIS Soundtrack (out today), her newfound appreciation of girlfriends, and why she loves to play rough with the boys.

But before we got down to business, de Pablo helped me out with some pesky pronunciation issues…

First things first: help me pronounce your name correctly!

[Laughs] Well, my real name is María José de Pablo. But when I was in 5th grade, people couldn't pronounce it, so I told them to call me Coty. Then I found out there was a beauty line called Coty, and I hated that! So I changed it to Cote [KOH-teh]. A lot of people don't get it, but in Chile, if you're name is María José, they call you Cote.

So glad you cleared that up. Now, tell me about your singing debut on the NCIS soundtrack.

People are really excited about this! I sing one song on the soundtrack. It's the one I sang in the first episode of season 6, where my character goes undercover as a cabaret singer at a Moroccan bar. I was all glammed up,and had to wear this sexy, backless dress. It was so that the fans could see Ziva in a different way.

You have a background in singing, right?

Yeah, I studied music and musical theater. I haven't done a lot of music since I started NCIS, though, because the schedule is really demanding. I like to sing really loudly around the house all of the time, but I usually get told, "Oh my God, you're screaming again!"

What's your favorite thing about playing Ziva David?

She uses weapons! I love all of the fighting, using knives and guns and all of that. And my favorite thing in the world is doing stunts! I am surprisingly good at picking up fighting sequences. It's so much fun as a girl to go out there and pin guys against walls, knee them and punch them and kick some butt. Not a lot of women on TV get a chance to do that.

Sounds like your character gets a lot of action, fighting-wise...but will Ziva ever get any action in the bedroom?

They always toy around with the idea that there's some tension between Ziva and Anthony DiNozzo [played by Michael Weatherly]. But I think they need to give this girl some love! I think she deserves a little something for all of the butt-kicking and sexy undercover work. They need to give her a man.

Can you give us any juicy scoop on what we can expect to see this season?

Here's a big one: There's a tentative love interest coming in from Ziva's homeland of Israel to spice things up. He was there at the beginning of the season, and he was her love interest. They are bringing him back in, and apparently either something awful or something fantastic is going to happen. The thing about the scripts is that we don't even know what's coming next, so it's fun.

How is it working with a mostly male cast?

I used to always consider myself a tomboy, but there are just too many of them on our show, and even though I love them, I don't want to be around men on the weekends. I get my girls and we go out. I have a newfound appreciation for female friendship.

Why is NCIS such a big hit, in your opinion?

Because of the chemistry between the people who work on the show. We all have a really good relationship and between scenes, we have a lot of fun. People tune in not because they want to see NCIS solving crimes, but because they want to watch the interactions between these characters. People like our mix of the seriousness of solving a crime with the lightness of the comedy.

How do you manage to stay out of the tabloids?

Gosh, I don't know. I lead a pretty boring life, and I work a lot. I like to read books, attend yoga classes...you'll rarely ever see me out partying it up. I like to look good and not have bags when I get up for work at 6 o'clock in the morning!