Monty Brinton/CBS
Sandra Gonzalez
March 20, 2012 AT 07:43 PM EDT

He might have been part of one of the largest movie franchises of all time but Sean Astin says that in the world of acting, he still feels like a bit of a Lone Ranger. That, he says, is why when the chance came for him to join the NCIS family for a guest stint, he jumped at the opportunity.

NCIS is legendary for having a very close-knit, family-style, hard-working, professional team,” the former Lord of the Rings star says. “So being able to step in and participate with them, it makes you feel a little less like a free agent for a minute. It makes you feel like you’re a part of something.”

In tonight’s episode we see his character, Tyler Elliott, in a similar position. As a member of PsyOps — and right-hand man to Dr. Samantha Ryan (Jamie Lee Curtis) — he and Ryan are called in to assist on a case after top secret information is leaked by someone from within the Navy.

Viewers were introduced to Curtis’ character a few episodes back, and in this episode, Astin says, we get a sense of the pair’s strong ties and unyielding trust in one another. (Sounds like a group we know…) “Jamie Lee is such a force of nature. She’s such a dynamic human being, and I think there’s some of that in her character as well,” he says.

Last time we saw Dr. Ryan, she showed hints of a romantic spark with Gibbs (Mark Harmon). In tonight’s episode, Astin teases, we get a better sense of where they now stand. “I shouldn’t tip the hand at all, but it certainly looked to me like [Harmon] was enjoying that dynamic,” he says.

Though he is set to return for at least one more episode this season, Astin says he’s also in the thick of pilot season, plotting his next move. Though he’s enjoyed the dramatic fare that’s come his way in the past few years (and he’ll always lobby for wielding a gun, when appropriate!), he’s actually hoping his next TV gig is a half-hour comedy. “I’m watching my kids growing up and our favorite times are when we’re all laughing together,” he says. “That would really be a dream. Comedy is hard but fun.”


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