The Stunning Transformation Of Eric Christian Olsen

After 14 successful seasons, the series finale of CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles" aired on May 21, 2023, and fans were compelled to bid farewell to their beloved, crime-fighting team of special agents. Though the series enjoyed consistent viewership over the course of its impressively long run, CBS decided to cancel the show. The viewers were not the only ones who were sorry to learn that the "NCIS" spin-off had been discontinued by the network. Members of the cast were also sad to see the series draw to a close, including Eric Christian Olsen, who played Marty Deeks, an NCIS-LAPD liaison officer turned bona fide NCIS special agent. 

Olsen brought his own lighthearted wit and easy charm to the character, which endeared him to fans from his first guest appearance. The easy-going, shaggy-haired surfer guy with a tough side took viewers on a roller coaster of emotions as his character developed, relationships took shape, and the story unfolded throughout the series. The actor behind the zinging one-liners and dashing smirks is no less impressive.

Olsen's impact on the world of television and film is not limited to the comedy, spunk, and intensity he brought to his portrayal of Marty Deeks over the past decade and a half; he has also displayed his prowess in the realms of screenwriting and production across multiple projects. Beyond the strides he has taken in his professional life, Olsen has also impressed fans, friends, and family with his physical transformation as well. 

Eric Christian Olsen grew up in a highly accomplished family

Eric Christian Olsen comes from a family of high achievers. His father, Dr. Paul Olsen has a doctorate in English literature from the University of Oregon and was a well-loved and accomplished professor of English at Augustana College. He also gained recognition for his immensely successful, decadeslong career as the institution's cross-country and track-and-field coach. Dr. Olsen was awarded multiple honors for his teaching and coaching, including an NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year award and recognition at the 1989 American Association for Higher Education conference. Dr. Olsen was also a 2004 inductee of the Illinois Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Jeanne Olsen, Olsen's mother, gave of her time and talents as a hospital chaplain for over 20 years. According to the Augustana College website, in 2013, donors "gifted the Paul V. and Jeanne Donstad Olsen Scholarship to celebrate 'the many ways Professor and Coach Paul V. Olsen and Jeanne Donstad Olsen '68 have inspired generations of students at Augustana College to go the distance in life.'"

David Paul Olsen served in the U.S. military as a Navy SEAL. He eventually left the military and transferred many of the physical skills he accrued during his time there to a career as a stunt actor and stunt double. He has worked on films such as "The Nun," "Reminiscence," and "The Diabolical" as well as many television series.

He established his presence in Hollywood long before NCIS: Los Angeles

While he may be best recognized as his "NCIS: Los Angeles" character Marty Deeks, Eric Christian Olsen got his start in acting almost two decades before he landed that particular role. In 1994, while still a student at Pepperdine University, Olsen delivered a performance as a burn victim on the medical drama "ER." 

It was Olsen's acting career that delayed the completion of his degree at Pepperdine. From the mid-'90s to the early 2000s, Olsen was booking roles in films such as "Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd," wherein Olsen played one of the main characters, Lloyd Christmas. He and co-star Derek Richardson were nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2003 for "Choice chemistry." Olsen did eventually graduate from the university in 2007, but his academic track was delayed by his thriving acting career. He fondly recalled his extended time as a student in an Instagram post featuring his old student ID and a caption that read, "TBT to College @pepperdine. Life altering experiences. Discovered truth. Let go of fear. Let go of shame. Found love, lost love, found love again. Found bliss, found sorrow. Redefined what friendship meant. Found peace, let the magic in. Discovered that happiness is the journey not the destination."

Before joining the "NCIS: Los Angeles" cast, Olsen has also performed roles on multiple television series such as "The Loop," "Get Real," "Brothers and Sisters." 

Eric Christian Olsen met his wife on the set of The Loop

Luckily for Eric Christian Olsen, bad first impressions aren't always beyond recovery, and he was able to make amends for one hasty judgment that could have massively altered his path in life.

As stated previously, Olsen's acting career was prolific in the years leading up to "NCIS: Los Angeles." He had been cast for the role of Sully Sullivan for Fox sitcom "The Loop" in 2006. Olsen and his wife, Sarah Wright Olsen met by chance on the set of the show, though their initial meeting couldn't be construed as anything romantic. In an interview for Entertainment Tonight in 2015, Olsen confessed that he had misjudged Wright's talent. He admitted that he believed he had only secured her role playing the character of Lizzy because of her looks rather than her acting ability. 

"I thought they hired you because you're super gorgeous and not because you were talented, so I was mean to you the first time we met," he said. For obvious reasons, Wright didn't take kindly to his attitude and considered him a jerk. After the first table reading, however, Olsen apologized for his behavior and the pair reconciled. Despite the rocky start to their relationship, the pair are very much in love, judging by their adorable social media tributes, which include a photo from Halloween 2023 that featured the pair dressed as Pua and Hei Hei from Disney's "Moana" with the caption, "I ❤️ my pua." 

He joined the NCIS: Los Angeles cast in 2010

Eric Christian Olsen's first appearance on "NCIS: Los Angeles" was actually a guest appearance that would eventually lead to him becoming a full-time member of the cast the following season. Olsen made his entrance as Marty Deeks, a police officer with the LAPD in an episode titled "Hand to Hand" which aired on April 6, 2010. 

In an interview with TV Insider, Olsen describes the mixed martial arts fight scene from the "Hand to Hand" episode as the most physically challenging scene of his entire "NCIS: Los Angeles" career. "I missed the fight choreography training, so I had to learn it all that morning," he explained. "A four-minute fight scene with double leg takedowns, arm bars, and a WWE body slam. We rocked that scene, and they never even sent in our stunt doubles. L.L. was the most in-control, precise, athletic partner you could ever ask for, but it was still heavy." 

An article published by Express explained that Olsen was brought back as a regular because of how well his performance went over with fans at the end of Season 1. Apparently, Deeks was not intended to be a lead role. The article quotes Olsen as explaining that the role was meant for an entirely different type of actor. "They're casting a role for one of the new leads," Olsen recalled. "[H]is name is Victor Cruz, he's an East LA Latino street cop. I said 'I'm perfect for it.'"

Eric Christian Olsen and Sarah Wright now have three children together

According to an interview with The Talk, Eric Christian Olsen proposed to Sarah Wright after five years of dating, saying, "Nobody makes me laugh more. Nobody makes me happier. No one's gonna be a better mother. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?" Olsen and his now wife, married in 2012 in a private, intimate ceremony at their home on the outskirts of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. According to People, Olsen had purchased the property for the purpose of raising his family there, and he and Wright had devoted time and attention to the renovation and remodeling of the house and its surrounding structures.

The outdoor ceremony was officiated by Olsen's father, and the wedding party embraced the scenic ambiance of the occasion with casual attire including Toms shoes and sunglasses. Speaking to People, Olsen said, "You hear people talk about cold feet, but there was never a moment of doubt with Sarah because no one makes me happier, no one makes me laugh more, and I can't imagine a better mother for our future children." 

In the years following their nuptials, the couple welcomed three children: Wyatt, Esme, and Winter. Wright reflected on their loving partnership and family life in a touching Instagram post with a caption that encapsulated her sentiment of, "I love doing life with you." 

He was able to work with his brother and sister-in-law on NCIS: Los Angeles

As stated previously, Eric Christian Olsen's brother, David Paul Olsen, is a professional stunt actor and double, but what some fans of the show might not know is that David Olsen performed as Eric Olsen's stunt double in over 70 episodes of "NCIS: Los Angeles." But David Olsen's connection to the series runs even deeper than that. He is also married to his brother's co-star, Daniela Ruah, who plays his brother's character's partner and love interest, Kensi Blye, on the show.

Eric Christian Olsen played a key role as a matchmaker for the pair. In a 2014 interview on "The Queen Latifah Show," Olsen described the events that ignited the spark between Ruah and his brother. Olsen stated that in 2011, both his co-star and brother were in unsatisfactory relationships with other people, and Olsen was saddened by the realization that these two people he admired and respected were not in relationships with partners who encouraged them to be their best selves.

During the interview, Olsen explained how he intervened to connect Ruah and his brother on set of "NCIS: Los Angeles." "When they got together because he came on to do stunts, I would say something nice about her to him, and then say something to him about her, and they were both like, 'Really?'" he said. "That was enough to kind of get them started in conversation, and it became this wonderful relationship."

Eric Christian Olsen has been a writer for NCIS: Los Angeles as well

Eric Christian Olsen's impact on "NCIS: Los Angeles" has primarily been through his acting. However, he has had a couple of opportunities to expand his reach and artistic ability through his writing for the show as well. During the show's 11th season, Olsen and co-writer Babar Peerzada worked together to write the script for the 250th episode, titled "Mother," which premiered on December 1, 2019. The episode is centered around one of "NCIS: Los Angeles'," most iconic characters, Henrietta Lange, or "Hetty" as she is regularly called, as she is faced with conflict surrounding a former pupil of hers who has returned with a vendetta against her. According to TV Fanatic, the episode enjoyed positive responses from both fans and critics.

Olsen had the opportunity to write the script for another episode, "Live Free or Die Standing," which premiered in 2022 during the 13th season. His co-star and sister-in-law, Daniela Ruah, was the director. The plot of the episode revolves around the team's attempts to locate a key witness set to testify against gun manufacturers who are suspected of selling weapons to drug cartels. Ratings retrieved from Show Buzz Daily indicate that the episode's viewership was average.

He went on a serious fitness journey during the COVID-19 pandemic

While "NCIS: Los Angeles" ceased filming during the COVID-19 pandemic to comply with lockdown regulations, Eric Christian Olsen took time to embark on a personal fitness journey that left his family and fans in awe. 

His wife, Sarah Wright Olsen, took to Instagram on August 3, 2020, to post a photo of him giving one of their children a piggyback ride with his shirt off, and it was clear to viewers that even though the gyms were closed, Eric was putting in the time to exercise. Olsen's toned biceps and six-pack abs were evident in the photo as he effortlessly carried one of his children on his back. Sarah humorously captioned the photo saying, "You know what's really great? When your husband gets into the best shape of his life when your 8 months pregnant. ... I'll be over here with my Fritos and milkshakes." 

Eric also posted a video on Instagram to shed some light on his methods for keeping himself fit while remaining at home with his family. In the video, he showed himself doing burpees in the family's home. He was also accompanied by their daughter, Esme, who offered her services as a bit of additional resistance for his workout. Though his tiny assistant was slightly inconsistent with her counting, it was clear that the father and daughter duo enjoyed their workout. 

Eric Christian Olsen is an executive producer on the upcoming series Matlock

Though the curtain has fallen on "NCIS: Los Angeles," Eric Christian Olsen's career in television isn't nearly finished yet. Just before the first of the show's two-part series finale aired, Olsen took to Instagram to express his excitement about CBS' reboot of the 1986 legal drama "Matlock," — starring Kathy Bates — on which he's playing a more behind-the-scenes role as an executive producer. 

According to CBS' description of the show, the plot will follow the formerly retired attorney, Madeline Matlock, as she reenters her old career and employs her unorthodox tactics to win cases and expose corruption. Accompanying Bates in the cast will be Skye P. Marshal, Jason Ritter, David Del Rio, and Leah Lewis. An article in Hello! detailing "Matlock's" release stated that the show has been approved for CBS' 2023 to 2024 broadcasting season and that fans can expect the show to premiere near the end of 2023. 

Olsen's announcement of his involvement with the new show was met with genuine delight and support from his former "NCIS: Los Angeles" co-stars. Renée Felice Smith shared the "Matlock" trailer on Instagram and wrote, "My friend @ericcolsen's new show MATLOCK starring the one and only Kathy Bates was just picked up and I'm over here celebrating this HUGE WIN!" Olsen himself expressed his excitement on Instagram as well.