Standing from left: Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen, Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J. Seated from left: moms Katia Korn-Broder, Jeanne Olsen, Julie O’Donnell, and Ondrea Smith.
Without question, the Oct. 9 episode of NCIS: L.A. is the mother of all mysteries.
While the team tracks down a suspect in a casino, four women – portrayed by the lead actors' real-life mothers – are playing poker.
When executive producer Shane Brennan e-mailed the CBS drama’s stars with the idea, "I thought it was a joke," Chris O’Donnell says. "When I found out he was serious, I was excited to call my mom. I knew this would be the biggest deal for her."
It was a thrill for the actors as well. "It was fun getting to work and seeing her in hair and makeup," Eric Christian Olsen says of having his mother, Jeanne, on-set.
The producers made sure the women were welcomed in style, giving them deluxe motor coaches that surrounded a makeshift Astroturf courtyard with potted plants and patio furniture.
"It was like Yankee Stadium!" says LL Cool J.
The scene took only a couple of hours to film, but the actors say the memories will last a lifetime.
"Acting with your mom? It's not something you get to do very often," Daniela Ruah says.
But if O’Donnell's mom, Julie, has her way, it will happen again soon. "She thinks this is her big break," O'Donnell says, laughing. "If 'Mom 2' appears in another script I'm sure she’ll answer the call."
And so will Ondrea Smith, LL Cool J's mother, who admits, "I could get used to this!"