'NCIS: Los Angeles' Star Makes Full Return in Season 13 With Plenty of Baggage

Linda Hunt only made a handful of appearances in NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12, but she is expected to get much more screen time in the upcoming Season 13. The Oscar-winner stars as NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Hetty Lange, who oversees operations at the Los Angeles office. In Season 12, Gerald McRaney was seen more often as retired Navy Admiral Hollace Kilbride to pick up the slack. McRaney was promoted to series regular for Season 13, meaning Hetty and Kilbride will be butting heads in person.

"They're both very smart and very stubborn, so it makes for a fun and volatile dynamic," executive producer R. Scott Gemmill recently told TV Insider of the relationship between the two characters. "Kilbride outranks Hetty, but he does respect her, even if he disagrees with her methodology and [sometimes] questions the cost of her successes."

linda hunt ncis la getty images cbs
Linda Hunt as Hetty Lange. (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

The two will get into a heated disagreement after Hetty's Season 12 mission doesn't go as planned. "She'll try to resolve that on her own, but in the end, it will suck in the entire team," which Kilbride is not happy about Gemmell noted. Kilbride and Hetty might be old friends, but they "may not be as friendly as we remember them," Gemmell told TV Insider.

After the Season 12 finale aired in May, Gemmell told TVLine Hunt, 76, did not appear in the season often because the producers were "trying to keep her safe" during the coronavirus pandemic. The scenes that were supposed to show Hetty in the Middle East were actually shot in Hunt's driveway. After Hunt was vaccinated, she was able to participate in more episodes.

"She was so happy to be back," Gemmell said. "She had been gone for so long and hadn't really interacted with anyone, so she was just so thrilled to be back on set. The minute I saw her, she's like, 'Let's talk about next season…,' so I think that as tough as last year was, for a lot of reasons, she, like the rest of us, is starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel and feels good about coming back to work." In that same interview, Gemmell hinted that the mission they gave Hetty to explain Hunt's absence would "probably" be revisited in Season 13. When asked if Hetty would be seen more in Season 13, Gemmel confirmed, "that's the plan."

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While there will be more Hetty in Season 13, there will be no Eric Beale or Nell Jones since Barrett Foa and Renee Felice Smith both left the series. Foa starred in the show's first 12 seasons, while Smith was introduced in Season 2. In the Season 12 finale, they both decided to leave NCIS for Tokyo, where Eric is working on a new project for his company. Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah, LL Cool J, Eric Christian Olsen, Medalion Rahimi, and Caleb Castille will all be back on NCIS: Los Angeles when it returns on CBS Sunday, Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. ET.