Eva-Jane Willis on Smitty's Big Surprise and Luke Kleintank's Exit From 'FBI: International'

Eva-Jane Willis in 'FBI: International'

Where would the FBI: International team be without Smitty? Eva-Jane Willis joined the CBS drama in Season 2 as the Fly Team's new Europol liaison, the agent often tasked with smoothing things over between the American FBI and various foreign law enforcement agencies. This week, in the episode titled "Touts," Smitty becomes part of the case as the team needs an informant in the IRA after a former IRA member is shot dead in London. She pays a rare visit to her mother in the hopes of locating an old family friend from Belfast, and ends up with more than she bargained for. There's one twist that Willis described as "very surprising," even to her as an actor. It "shakes" Smitty and everything she knows about herself, and sheds a lot of light on her family dynamics and her character in general.

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"It was really fun to see Smitty out of her comfort zone, because I've always been able to go for a professional, unbeatable, unbreakable, at times, attitude," Willis told Parade. "When I'm with the Fly Team, I feel strong and every case that we crack, we are rarely affected personally by those cases. Obviously we care about the people very much, but it takes a lot to break us down personally. So this case, being so intrinsically linked to her family and the place where she grew up, gave me an opportunity as an actor to see what happens if Smitty's usual defenses and strengths are not there. We begin to see the vulnerability that she had growing up, rather than the strong woman that she's become."

Of course, Smitty's eventful trip home won't be the only storyline on the mind for most viewers, as we know this episode will also be Luke Kleintank's last as Scott Forrester. The circumstances surrounding Forrester's exit are still a mystery, but Willis did shed a little light on just how stressful the final two episodes of the season will be.

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"There will be a two-part finale, which is episodes 12 and 13, so tune in for both of those," she said. "There will be a cliffhanger at the end of 12, which takes us into 13, and I'm assuming you already know that the resolution will mean that Forrester is no longer with [the team] by the end of 13. But I can't say more about how exactly that comes about or how that develops through those episodes, but it's worth tuning in for."

Read on to find out about Smitty's big episode, Kleintank's departure and more.

How did you react when you found out what this episode would be revealing about your character?

It's delicious to find out about yourself. As actors, we really love backstory, so it's a challenge with this job sometimes. When you arrive on set, you know a certain amount about yourself but you have to bring something else as well as what's written. Otherwise, there wouldn't be enough to fill up the character… Reading [this episode] as an actor, what it did was confirm what I suspected in terms of the relationship that she's had with her mother in particular. She hinted in Season 2 that her parents might have wanted her to go to Oxford or Cambridge and that she had some conflict with them growing up because she wanted to go off and do law enforcement and they wanted other things for her. Reading this deepened that for me, and it was quite satisfying to see that the writer, [Wade McIntyre] had given me some nice scenes with my parents that could show the complexity of that kind of passive aggressive subtext you can have with your parents at times, because you know each other so well. I quite enjoyed that.

We've seen Smitty save the day a few times, like when she kept Powell out of trouble a few episodes ago. What's it like when she can't be the one to swoop in?

I'm so glad to hear that you noticed that, because that's true. She does do that often, and you're right. As Europol, she often has a way of bargaining with people in other countries and finding loopholes and things for the team to get us out of trouble. In this situation, she's out of her depth because she can't have a level head in the same way and she can't use her tactical mind as much as she would normally. So that was a challenge for the character, but great for me as an actor to be able to define those new depths for her.

How does this experience affect her relationship with the rest of the team?

I think she works hard to try and do the right thing to maintain professionalism in the face of what is personally very difficult, but there are a couple moments in the episode where she questions what is the right thing to do. I think with all of the members of the team, whenever they have personal crises, ultimately they will turn to each other to find the right answers, and that's what she does.

Do you feel like this bonds Smitty with these American FBI agents more?

I think Season 3 has definitely compacted this sort of family unit that they have. I think in Season 2, she was really finding her feet, feeling like an outsider, trying to prove herself. And Season 3 is much more about the fact that she's got her feet firmly under the table and has made herself integral to the team. She needs them as much as they need her, and I think she'll continue to lean on them as long as they'll have her.

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The Fly Team is going straight from this case into whatever is happening with Forrester, so can you talk about moving forward knowing you have to do it without Luke?

I mean, Luke Kleintank is one of those people you meet in life who is so entirely authentic and he only needs to know you for five minutes before he'll take you under his wing and listen to you, give you strength and ask nothing in return. He is an incredible actor to work with. I personally will miss him so much, but I am very glad that him and [wife Christina Vignaud] get to have some time to spend for themselves and for their beautiful family. We will all miss him, but FBI keeps things interesting, and we'll have to see what happens in Season 4.

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