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Noongar and Yued actress Tuuli Narkl to star in NCIS: Sydney

Rhiannon Clarke -

For more than two decades NCIS has been broadcast worldwide and has amassed a fan base in the millions.

Now, Australia is set to have its own NCIS spin-off, with a talented Perth-born actress taking centre stage.

NCIS: Sydney, the first-ever international spin-off of the popular drama, features Tuuli Narkle, a proud Yued and Wiilman Noongar woman, in the role of AFP liaison officer Constable Evie Cooper.

Having graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 2018, (NIDA) Narkle joins an exceptional ensemble cast that includes Todd Lasance, William McInnes, Olivia Swann and Sean Sagar from the US and UK, as well as former Neighbours star Mavournee Hazel.

These six central characters have been filming in and around Sydney for the majority of the year. For Narkle, who grew up as a devoted viewer of the highly-rated series, stepping onto the set was a realisation of a lifelong dream.

"I tell this story all of the time, because it's so surreal, but I used to watch the original series of NCIS religiously," Narkle told The West Australian.

"My mum and I, we would be in our little weatherboard house in Western Australia watching NCIS, and we were obsessed with (the show's original central characters) DiNozzo and Gibbs' relationship, those are our two favourite characters.

"I remember watching it in high school and being like, 'God, I want to do that one day. Imagine how incredible it would be to be a part of something like that?'.

"And now here I am. I can't believe it: here, in Australia, being a part of the NCIS universe. I mean, I am gobsmacked."

The show's makers have collaborated with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Australian Federal Police to research the program.

According to Narkle, the partnership has been instrumental in providing crucial insights and context for the actors to infuse into their characters and the stories.

"We have had the incredible opportunity to have a relationship with the navy here," she said.

"We have also been incredibly fortunate to talk to not only the Australian navy, but there is actually an NCIS team working out of Sydney for real.

"We have had them come on board, and we have developed really great relationships with them."

Tuuli Narkle played Mary in Mystery road: origin along side Mark Coles Smith (Image: NIT)

Narkle previously starred in the critically acclaimed prequel Mystery Road: Origin, for which she won the 2022 AACTA award for best lead actress in a television drama.

"As a First Nations person stepping into the world of Mystery Road, that was an incredible opportunity, and I definitely didn't take that lightly," she said

"It is an incredibly integral part of the anthology of First Nations works within Australia — I just have been so lucky."

Despite being one of the last characters to be cast, Narkle hit the ground running due to the quick turnaround. However, this is not unfamiliar territory for her as her acting career has been equally fast-paced since graduating from NIDA.

She has performed on stage around the country, including in Sydney Theatre Company's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Melbourne Theatre Company's modern adaptation of Cyrano.

Now being included in the NCIS: Sydney series and serving as a representative of the First Nations community globally has been an immense accomplishment for Narkle.

"(Being First Nations), it's just woven into who I am," said Narkle.

"I wouldn't be the person I am without it. My family and my culture and our connection to this country is something I hold very, very close to my heart in everything that I do."

Narkle's family has strong ties to the York and Goldfields regions, but her character's Indigenous ancestry is yet to be explored, she said.

"I am very grateful that I get to be a part of this world, and therefore there's First Nations representation in a franchise that is so big."

NCIS: Sydney premieres November 10 on Paramount Plus.

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