NEW YORK (AP) – Cote de Pablo was vacationing in Greece when she received the script for "The Dovekeepers," a miniseries based on Alice Hoffman's namesake best-selling novel.
"By page 24 I was sobbing," she recalled in a recent interview. "I just thought it was so beautiful, you know? I was in Greece and I was overlooking the ocean. Everything about the environment around me was set up in a way that would make me want to put down the script. It was the perfect setup to go, 'Oh, great. A script. I won't read it' (but) I couldn't put it down."
Hoffman's story, whose TV version will air on CBS Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT, is set around 70 A.D in Masada, a Judean desert in Israel. It's about the lives of four women who were part of the roughly 900 Jews that kept the Roman military at bay from a takeover.
"It's basically the story of their life in Masada. Their passions in Masada and how they resist the Roman Army for a long period of time," explained de Pablo.
Filming took place in Malta because of political unrest in Israel at the time.
"Unfortunately, the political climate in Israel was not good," said de Pablo. "But at the beginning we were going to go and we were all really excited. The idea of just being there even if it was just for a little bit was incredible but they chose an island in the Mediterranean, the country of Malta, and a beautiful, beautiful place so I think we were able to reach a good balance."
"The Dovekeepers" also stars Rachel Brosnahan, Diego Boneta, Kathryn Prescott and Sam Neill.
"We became very close," said de Pablo, 35, of her cast mates. "I'm always grateful for that because I suffer my own little lonely pains having left my country (Chile) when I was so young. For me, being in another place and not knowing people, I immediately gravitate toward, 'Hey! So where are you from? Let's be buddies,'" she laughed.
"The Dovekeepers" is produced by Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, who also are responsible for bringing "The Bible" and its sequel "A.D." to television.
The new series arguably comes with two sets of built-in fans. The first group of prospective viewers is those who read and enjoyed the book, like de Pablo.
"It's a big story," she said. "We've had to condense and take elements of the book out. I wish we would've had like 12 (hours), but I think we've accomplished the objective and are successful in telling the story."
The other group CBS surely is counting on is fans of de Pablo, from the eight years she spent playing Ziva David on "NCIS."
De Pablo is cautiously optimistic about whether those viewers are a sure thing to watch.
"All I can say is I'm just grateful that I have such loyal fans, you know, and I'm always surprised because you never take it for granted. You never walk around going, 'Oh, they're gonna watch. They're totally gonna watch,'" she said.
"The Dovekeepers" two-night "event," as it is being touted, brings the miniseries back to the airwaves.
"It's the first time (CBS) has done this in a long time ... I'm actually really proud," said de Pablo.