Hit spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles" debuted all the way back in 2009 and has gone from strength to strength ever since (via IMDb). Much like its predecessor, and big brother show, "NCIS," and fellow off-shoot "NCIS: New Orleans," "NCIS: LA" details the fascinating and often dangerous work conducted by an elite group of undercover law enforcement agents (via CBS). Given how long the show has been on the air, it's safe to surmise the exploits of the central team continue to hold viewers' attention, typically thanks to their complicated interpersonal relationships as well as the usual workplace drama.
Much of the core appeal of "NCIS: LA" comes from its impressively varied cast, which boasts rapper turned actor LL Cool J, who made an impression in sharksploitation classic "Deep Blue Sea" before joining the "NCIS" team, nineties heartthrob Chris O'Donnell, "Fresh Prince" alum Nia Long, the resident dumb blonde guy of "Not Another Teen Movie," Eric Christian Olsen, and out-and-out fan favorite Linda Hunt as the lovably eccentric Hetty.
Surprisingly, although several "NCIS: LA" stars have impressive backgrounds, only one of them has an actual Academy Award.
With the greatest respect to the younger cast-members, only living legend Linda Hunt could have an Oscar at home on her mantle. As The New York Times notes, back in 1984, the "NCIS: LA" star made history when she won Best Supporting Actress after playing a male character in "The Year of Living Dangerously." As The Washington Post reports, to play Asian Australian character Billy Kwan, Hunt's clothes were padded, her skin was darkened, hair was chopped off, and brows were shaved.
Legendary critic Roger Ebert gushed, "this is what great acting is," (via RogerEbert.com), while the Times itself noted Hunt's casting "works to the film's advantage," as it's Kwan's "fate to play God, and gods are, if not androgynous, then not necessarily condemned to a single sexual identity." Others, however, have criticized the portrayal as problematic, with Teen Vogue pointing out the use of the controversial and "racist technique" of yellowface which "often gave [performers] stereotypical characteristics of East Asian people through makeup, enabling them to read as Asian onscreen."
The "NCIS" fan fave initially wanted the role rewritten as female, admitting to The Daily Beast, "I thought, oh my God, I'm going to have to go somewhere when this film opens, just away, as far as I could get." On set, Hunt worried she was doing a terrible job but the actress gradually got more comfortable as the shoot went on. Hunt beat out Cher, Glenn Close, Amy Irving, and Alfre Woodward to win. Accepting her Academy Award, the diminutive star described the role as completely transformative, and proof that anything is possible.