She’s English, playing an American working in Australia and NCIS: Sydney star Olivia Swann wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I do not have a problem uprooting and going somewhere else for work, so having the opportunity to move to Sydney for five months and film was a dream come true,” she says, of being cast in the popular television franchise’s first international spinoff.

It was her first time Down Under, but Swann says while she had no trouble understanding Australian slang, the local accent was a little different to expectations.

“I thought my Australian accent was quite good, then I went to Australia and realised it’s not. I was clearly influenced by Kath & Kim.”

NCIS: Sydney follows a joint task force of NCIS agents and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers working together on investigations involving American military and navy personnel. The team is jointly led by NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey (Swann) and AFP Sergeant Jim Dempsey (Todd Lasance, Home And Away, The Secrets She Keeps).

The series has been an immediate ratings hit in the US and is the most-watched new series of the television season there.

“It’s incredible,” says Swann, admitting she didn’t know much about the NCIS world before being cast in NCIS: Sydney.

“But I knew of it and I think what’s so cool about this franchise is that it’s so huge that, even if you’ve never seen an episode, you know of it. I delved into some episodes before I went off to film and I’ve watched so many more since. I’m definitely a fan now.

“The fact that people are watching our show and seem to enjoy it is just the best because we have the most incredible time filming it.”

Her character, Mackey, is a bit of a maverick who doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff and the action role is right up Swann’s alley.

As Legends Of Tomorrow villain Astra Logue, she spent her days fighting aliens and robots and in the movie River Wild, she and co-stars Leighton Meester and The OC’s Adam Brody were friends left to fend for themselves after a white-water rafting disaster.

Now the 31 year old is chasing bad guys around Sydney Harbour and having the time of her life doing it.

In the series’ first episode, Mackey and Dempsey are embroiled in an all-action helicopter pursuit around the harbour.

“It was one of the best days of my life – although we didn’t actually fly around in the helicopter,” Swann reveals.

“We were actually sitting stationary in the chopper on top of a massive aircraft carrier but even that in itself was exhilarating. And then the sun was setting over the harbour bridge, and we just looked at each other and we’re like, ‘Yeah, this is our job – this is really cool’.”

Mackey is a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot who, at some stage in her mysterious past, faced a court martial.

“Honestly, I love everything about Mackey,” Swann says, adding on the surface she and her character have little in common.

“She comes in very hot, she’s very strong, very tough, very fierce but, later on, she is forced to delve into her past and her vulnerability a little bit more.

“We are quite different on the outside. Where she’s very strong and direct, I am slightly more reserved and indirect.

“But she does have warmth and kindness and caring and we get a little glimpse of that. Her inner is a lot more like me.”

And while Mackey and her Aussie counterpart Dempsey clash from the outset, Swann says off screen there is no rivalry.

“I think that Todd Lasance is one of the most fantastic human beings I’ve ever met,” she says.

“He’s incredible – as an actor, as a friend, as a human, and we clicked instantly. He is like my brother and I can’t imagine not having him in my life. That’s the level of connection that we ended up having. And I’m just so grateful that I get to share so many scenes with him.”

In fact, Swann says the whole cast – a mix of nationalities – is tight.

“I don’t think I’ve experienced a bond this fierce. Within days of us all meeting, we created this unit of support and laughter and joy and vulnerability, which I think allows us to all interact easily on screen. I really do think it comes across throughout the show.”

NCIS: Sydney, streaming on TVNZ+

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