Pauley Perrette is saying goodbye to NCIS after 15 seasons, and she admits that leaving behind her beloved character, forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, has been an emotional experience.
“I just made a very feeble attempt to try and tell them without crying and I made it for about 10 seconds,” Perrette tells ET of breaking the news that she was leaving the series to her fellow NCIS cast and crew. “‘I just want you guys to know,’ and that was it. I'm like, [crying], ‘I love you, guys,’ then I have to get right back to work and do a three-page monologue about science.”
Perrette’s character, an eccentric goth genius who helps the Naval Criminal Investigative Service scrutinize crimes involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, has been with the show since it began, when it started as a back-door pilot on fellow CBS military procedural JAG. Abby has also appeared on the show’s two spinoff series, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans.
“I will definitely miss Abby,” Perrette admits. “And a world without Abby is strange...It's been quite a journey.”
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Throughout NCIS’s 15 seasons, the actress’ character has garnered a devoted legion of fans, who have written letters and reached out on social media to tell Perrette just how much Abby means to them. And the feeling is mutual.
“I say, ‘I love her as much as you do,' which is true,” the 49-year-old actress says of her response to all the fan love. “And I say, 'thank you,' and I say, ‘I love you, guys,’ because I do. I love the Abby fans, there is nobody like them.”
As for her next career move, Perrette admits that she’s taking some time to relax, following a decade and a half on one of TV’s most-watched shows. “I have been in either pajamas or a bathing suit for almost a month,” she jokes.
But she’s giving one more epic nod to Abby by setting up generous endowments at her alma mater, Valdosta State University, aimed at encouraging women to study forensic science. And she’s ready for her next move when it comes.
“As far as what's next, it is totally God's plan for me, and that's what I believe and that's how I feel,” she explains. “So I'm just waiting. It'll be revealed to me. I'll know when it happens.”
Perrette’s final appearance on NCIS will be a two-part episode, which begins May 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Watch the video below for more on Perrette and her long run on NCIS.