She portrayed Ziva, a former Mossad agent turned NCIS officer in the series of the same name. At 35, Cote de Pablo has become one of Hollywood’s most prominent actresses. She still remains attached to her Chilean background, however - a country where her roots are as gnarled as those of grapevines.
Apparently Cote de Pablo isn’t your real name…
It is my name, but an abbreviated version. My official name is Maria Jose de Pablo Fernandez Chicarro Grace! It was a little long on the credits or on a business card! Try remembering that after a drink! (laughs)
You grew up in Chile, a country that produces some fine wines. Is it true that when your family moved to Florida, your father came close to depression because he couldn’t find any decent wines?!
I was ten years old and I do remember that my father was constantly ranting because the selection of wines on offer in Florida was pretty pathetic! My parents were great wine lovers, preferably Chilean wines, that you couldn’t find in Florida. Or if you could, they were at wine merchants’ who charged extortionate prices. When I was a child, I remember my parents taking us to the Colchagua valley in Chile. Any self-respecting lover of fine wines has to go there! If you are not familiar with the region, I would strongly suggest you pay it a visit. The local wine growers there are obsessed with quality. There is also the Maipo valley where wine has been produced for centuries, not forgetting Biobio or Maule. Wine is part of the Chileans’ genetic make-up!
What is it you like about wine?
It’s a number of things. When you are in a restaurant, for instance, and you see the sommelier coming towards you with the wine list, you know that some enjoyable moments lay ahead. There is one particular moment I love – when the sommelier pours the wine into a carafe. I remember one day, I was dining on the terrace of a leading Italian restaurant. The sun was setting on the horizon and the last rays were bouncing off the colour of the wine being poured. I really loved the combination of liquid and light. There was a kind of fairytale feel about it. It was magical!
And what is it you don’t like?
People who lead you to believe they know a lot about wine, but actually know nothing! I also find the sexist approach of some machos really exasperating. I don’t see why women should only drink tea and men liquor. Just because someone hasn’t mastered the vocabulary of wine doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy it. This constant snobbery just has to stop! I’ll tell you who talks about wine the best: women! Apparently, on the whole we have a better a nose than men. Something about hormones. I think it’s more because we are a lot chattier and like to be accompanied by a drink that gets the conversation flowing, and tickles our fancy! (laughs).
Can you describe a day in the life of Cote de Pablo?
Life is more fun when you don’t plan too much. In fact, that’s the one thing the Chilean in me misses the most. In my country, we like to sit down under a tree and chat, or say nothing, pick a piece of fruit, eat it, drink wine and have a siesta. Nobody finds it shocking if you do nothing. It’s difficult for people who are accustomed to working hard to understand, but these moments are a real blessing. Taking time out promotes creativity. You start dreaming and I think it’s really important to be constantly in ‘imagination’ mode!