Eric Christian Olsen turned into a star when he began his tenure on NCIS Los Angeles. Starring as Marty Deeks, the 44-year-old has now been on the show for 12 years – he himself has admitted that it has sometimes been tough not to stay in character when off-set.
Besides becoming a star on NCIS Los Angeles, Olsen has created a loving family, welcoming three children together with his wife, Sarah Wright.Though he might not look like the most well-trained, in-shape person alive – recent pictures of him taken while out on a walk tell a whole different story.
Eric Christian Olsen was born on May 31, 1977, in Eugene, Oregon. As a kid, he became interested in storytelling – his father worked as an English professor, and often told Eric stories at home.
Although Eric was born in Oregon, he grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa. He came from a sporting family, and played in the local hockey team as a young kid.
Not only that, but Eric also appeared in several school productions. His mother, Jeanne, recalled that though he wasn’t quite a troublemaker, he had a knack of getting out of things he didn’t want to do.
“If he didn’t like something, like a class or lessons, he figured out how to get the teacher to say, ‘I think you should pull him out of this,’” she told Entertainment Tonight.
Olsen didn’t entirely accept that version of events, and said his piano teacher had smelled “weird.”
“By the way, the piano teacher lady, she smelled weird,” Olsen said to his mother.
“You did it to two piano teachers,” she replied.
“But they both smelled weird,” he fired back.
Music was a big thing for Olsen. In fourth grade, he took to the stage in a school musical. It turned out to be a rather shocking experience for his parents – his mother Jeanne never even knew her son could sing.
“I didn’t know he could sing. And he comes out on the stage, and I’m so nervous. And he turns around and faces the audience, and he puts his arms out, and he starts to sing,” she said.
“I literally stood there with my mouth open because of his presence. And he wasn’t scared, he wasn’t nervous at all.
First roles in television and film
“His dad said to him, ‘If you’re a little nervous, that’s a good thing because that makes you better.’ And he got off the stage later and said, ‘I was really nervous, then I wasn’t nervous.’ He was just a natural. That’s when I knew there was something special about this kid.”
It was clear that Eric had something special, just as his mother claimed. He eventually graduated high school and decided to head to Los Angeles to fulfill another dream.
Interestingly, that dream was not acting. Instead, in 1998, Olsen enrolled at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, on a 75 percent scholarship. Of course, he had to find a way to pay for the last 25 percent – and that’s when the idea of doing commercials came to him.
Commercials soon turned into bigger productions, and Olsen got some minor television and film work as an actor, including one episode on ER in 1999 and 22 episodes on Get Real in 1999 and 2000. The following year, Eric really struck gold when he starred in the iconic film Pearl Harbor.
Olsen was 19 years of age at the time, and had only 300 dollars to his name. As an actor, it’s common to get a residual check, meaning you get money when the film sells on DVD or when it airs on another platform. Pearl Harbor, of course, became a huge hit – and that made Olsen’s life easier for a while.