Tuesday night’s new episode of NCIS: New Orleans is going to be a spotlight like no other for Daryl “Chill” Mitchell as Patton Plame. Within “In Plain Sight,” Patton finds himself in a traumatic situation after watching a close friend be killed in front of him. From there, he works with the NCIS officer to get answers on what happened, and that includes coming into contact with Kevin Simms (Kurt Yaeger), a man struggling with being in a wheelchair and a man who could prove valuable to the case.
Leading up to this episode (which is excellent by the way — absolutely watch it live on Tuesday), we had a chance to speak with Mitchell about this story, the incorporation of a number of disabled actors into it, and what is the primary message he hopes viewers take away. Check back tomorrow morning for our interview with Yaeger on the episode; we’ll be back after it airs with some closing thoughts from both actors. There’s also a sneak peek below that offers more context on Yaeger’s character.
CarterMatt – How much advance knowledge do you tend to have about a big story that is coming your way?
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell – I think that they see what I deliver on these shows. They’re starting to give me a little more [of a forewarning]. It started with it being around two weeks or two episodes out, but now I’m getting a little more time because when I come out, I want to give it.
For the most part, man, the team is so tight all the way down to the crew — they’re going to make sure that I’m comfortable and they know my rhythm. They know when that switch turns out and it’s a team effort. It’s not just me.
When you first got a chance to see the script, what did you think about it? They’re giving you a chance to do a lot of different things here.
I just got excited, because every time I get a spotlight, it’s about different things whether it be about gambling, or my relationship, and now it’s this whole story about a friendship and my support group and trying to feel whole. You’re dealing with that, and we’re showing that you can’t do it by yourself — it doesn’t matter if you’re walking or if you’re rolling. We all come together, we’re still human, and we all have emotions — yet, we can get things done.
When I first saw the synopsis for this episode, I saw that Patton was going to see his friend get shot right in front of him. I can’t even imagine how someone deals with a situation like that.
It’s a compound situation because I remember when I lost my nephew. It brings all the emotions out — it’s a battle. What I’m living isn’t normal. I wasn’t born like this and every day is a battle. You lose something and it’s probably lost for life. Then, you lose someone close and that emotion comes out.When I get into the script, bro, I get into it. I’m Patton and that’s my friend, so I go places.
Did you have to put yourself in a different mindset entering this? I feel like in some of the other Patton spotlights we’ve seen stuff that’s a little bit more lighthearted. This is a really traumatic moment in this guy’s life.
Right, and when I get into that it triggers something. It’s not that I put myself there, but you wonder ‘is this a [mountain] of emotion that I was holding onto that I didn’t realize?’. I know professionally it’s what I get paid to do and I love what I do. I love to joke and I love people and I love life. If something is going to trigger me to laugh, something is going to trigger me to cry.
So what was it like working with Kurt Yaeger in this episode? I know you guys have been friends for a while, so it had to be pretty cool.
Me and Kurt, we were bagging on each other the whole time. I’ve known him from some different events we go to and that was our habit there. We’ve both had motorcycle accidents so the fact that we’ve had a similar experience — we’ve gone through it and we’re past that. Now, we’re just friends and we always talk about working together. When they called him to do this show and I saw his name on the call sheet, I was just like ‘oh, party time. Showtime.’
With him, there’s a comfort zone. We don’t have a problem getting in each other’s space. That’s important, because if you don’t know somebody, you don’t know what your limits are. I know with him, I got full range and with me, he’s got full range. It’s like being a part of Run DMC.
What do you hope people take away from this episode?
A lot of people know that I wasn’t born like this, so when they see me, they understand it was an injury. If you want to look at me and be like ‘oh, that’s Chill,’ I want you to look at everybody the same way. When you typically see this many disabled people on a show, it’s a documentary. So to have so many disabled co-stars in one episode is epic, man.
At the end of the day, no matter what it is we want to do — whether it is be a banker, a crossing guard, or something else — just understand that we’re human and we don’t want handouts. We just want opportunities. I really want Hollywood to see that; we want opportunities to show that we can perform at the highest level like anybody else.
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