FBI: International Star Eva-Jane Willis Promises Tonights Episode Will Show New Side Of Smitty

FBI: International fans are about to learn a lot more about their good pal Smitty.

In tonight’s episode dubbed “Tradition of Secrets,” Europol Agent Megan “Smitty” Garretson (Eva-Jane Willis) will be forced to run interference for a troublesome family member. We asked Willis — who is about to wrap her first season on the CBS drama from Dick Wolf — to talk about tonight’s storyline and how she snagged this role of a lifetime.

DEADLINE Before you get into tonight’s episode, can you talk about how you joined the drama at the start of season 2?

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EVA-JANE WILLIS Well, for a bit of context, I got into the industry quite late. I graduated from drama school when I was 29, and had some nice roles over the years. But there were a few ups and downs. I was living the life of a struggling actor. It was tough to keep my head above water and and make ends meet. This time last year, I had come to the decision that I wasn’t going to act anymore. I’ve got to have some stability in my life. While this decision was being made, I was also planning my wedding. Me and my partner weren’t able to get married in 2020 when the lockdown happened, so we were pulling the wedding together last year. I had a real feeling on that day that this was my new life. Time to put this silly dream behind us and begin our lives as two serious individuals! At the reception, my agent Jimmy walks up to me and says, “um, I have an audition that just came through for you and I wouldn’t normally tell you this on your wedding day, except that you’re really gonna wanna know about this one because it’s a series regular role on a Dick Wolf and it’s gonna change your life.” I told Jimmy to F- off in the nicest possible way. I can’t really think about this right now because we’ve gotta do speeches and stuff!

DEADLINE My God. But I’m sure you were still thinking about it.

WILLIS Absolutely, yes, I was. I didn’t actually mention it to my new husband at the time, but I kind of went away thinking, “oh my God, what am I gonna do?” I said to Jimmy, “when is this due?” I had to do a self tape. It was due the next day. So, I’m sitting there while my dad’s doing a good toast, and I’m thinking, ‘hmm, when am I gonna do this self tape?’ So long story short, I spent my wedding night learning lines, and then I spent the next morning, the beginning of our honeymoon, doing a tape. Part of me thought, I’m never gonna get this. It’s a dream job. It’s literally an international show. They’re gonna cast the net so wide, I’m never gonna get this job, so I’m gonna do the self tape and then I’m gonna enjoy my honeymoon. I’m not gonna stress about it. So I probably spent less time on this tape, actually, than I’ve ever spent in my life. We stayed in a lovely hotel in London that night, and the next morning we went to Greece for our honeymoon. So we were literally in a villa, which had a very nice glow, which I think did help actually with the self tape. My husband literally did it on my iPhone.

DEADLINE This is one of those stories that keeps actors going because they hope something like this will happen to them.

WILLIS I mean, when I got to set, it was one of the first stories I told to the rest of the cast. They welcomed me straight away into their family. They’d already done one season and I was the newcomer for the second. It is the kind of thing that kept me going for as long as it did — getting that life-changing job where not only did we have to repack our bags and move out of our house in London but move to Budapest for a completely different and new life. Mind blowing! I’m still in sort of a half-state of disbelief where I’m constantly saying to Jimmy, ‘are they sure?’

DEADLINE Was it easy to settle into the role of Smitty? How was she described to you at the beginning?

WILLIS She was described as someone who takes her job incredibly seriously, but knows how to let her hair down when the time comes to have a joke or a laugh. I think the hair and makeup department literally took that as a description of how my hair should look every time I go to the bar. I have this constant ponytail when I’m being serious. And then every time we go to the bar, my hair comes down. I think as the only Brit in the show, I get away with a lot. I get to say some naughty British words that are only acceptable in the U.S. and I get to poke fun and have a bit of that British cynicism. So as the outsider, both as the Brit and the Europol representative, I get to have that extra bit of fun on set, which I think sometimes the others are jealous of. They all get to have their own unique thing, but Smitty’s thing is that she gets to be a bit cheeky.

DEADLINE What can we expect from tonight’s episode?

WILLIS We will meet my brother who is involved in a bit of a scandal. There’s actually a parallel with the Sackler family, the real life Sackler story in terms of the kind of control and power they have. My brother is in trouble and I’m coming to his rescue and we learn a little bit about the nature of their relationship. She’s always had to be there for them and get him out of trouble. It’s always been really professional for Smitty up until now and suddenly it gets personal. For me, in terms of an acting challenge, that meant that when I was fighting, I wasn’t fighting as a law enforcer. I was fighting for my life and for my brother’s life, which really raised the stakes for me That was a really nice way for me to start winding down this season. It changes Smitty going into season three.

FBI: International airs at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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