A major NCIS: Los Angeles star will be missing when the show comes back in the fall. Barrett Foa, who plays the trusty NCIS technical operator and intelligence analyst Eric Beale, will be taking a leave of absence. He will miss the first five episodes of the season so he can take another professional opportunity.
A CBS representative confirmed to TV Line that Foa's and Eric's absences will be woven into the Season 11 plot. Fans will learn that Hetty (Linda Hunt) gave Eric a clandestine case to work with an outside company. Only when Eric finally comes back in a late fall episode will we learn where he was. Unsurprisingly, the missions take a dangerous turn and the other NCIS team members have to help him stay alive.
At the end of Season 10, Eric's professional partner and girlfriend Nell (Renee Felice Smith) left Los Angeles to be with her ailing mother in San Francisco. Eric decided to follow her.
That cliffhanger left fans wondering if Nell and Eric would be back for Season 11. TV Line reported in June that Foa and Smith would be back as series regulars.
Foa is leaving NCIS: LA for a short time to take advantage of a chance to star in Angels in America on stage. He will star in a production at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis from Sept. 4 to Oct. 6.
According to Playbill, Foa will star as Prior Walter, the role Andrew Garfield played during Angels in America's recent successful Broadway revival. Meredith Baxter (Family Ties) will play Hannah and Peter Frechette (Thirtysomething) plays Roy Cohn. Other members of the cast include Ben Cherry, Jayson Speters, Valeri Mudek, David Tyan Smith and Gina Daniels.
NCIS: Los Angeles will return with the third part of a story that brought back David James Elliott and Catherine Bell as their JAG characters for the first time since 2005. The NCIS: LA team needed help from Harm (Elliott) after they learned about a plot from ISIS sympathizers to target U.S. aircraft carriers. Hetty later brought in Mac (Bell) to help get information from a Russian diplomat.
NCIS: Los Angeles is one of three NCIS series returning on CBS this fall. The series also stars LL Cool J as Hanna, Chris O'Donnell as G. Callen, Daniela Ruah as Kensi Blye and Eric Christian Olsen as Marty Deeks.
Filming on the new season kicked off on Wednesday, according to Olsen, who posted a photo of himself getting his hair done.
Outside NCIS and NCIS: LA, Foa appeared in episodes of Numbers, The Closer and Will & Grace. He also appeared in the original Broadway production of Avenue Q in 2005.
The NCIS: LA Season 11 premiere airs on Sunday, Sept. 29 on CBS.
Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS