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Actress Challen Cates goes from Nick's hot mom to 'NCIS' bad-ass

Actress Challen Cates (image courtesy Robert Merrill)
Actress Challen Cates (image courtesy Robert Merrill)
NCIS; Big Time Rush

Actress Challen Cates turns in her ‘hot mom’ reputation into a super ‘bad-ass’ one when she guest stars on the popular CBS drama, “NCIS,” on February 18th.

And, if that isn’t enough proof that Challen is ready to be a bad girl, she’ll also appear in Seth MacFarlane’s new western-comedy feature, “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” The film also stars Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi and MacFarlane of course.

This natural beauty earned her ‘hot mom’ status entertaining millions of families as Mrs. Knight on the uber-successful Nickelodeon kid-comedy, “Big Time Rush.” Before that, Challen recurred on the daytime drama “Passions” and appeared on “Desperate Housewives,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: NY,” “Monk” and Lifetime’s “Missing.”

We recently caught up with Challen Cates to find out more about her upcoming projects and her new ‘bad’ self.

Tell us about your upcoming role on CBS's "NCIS".

CHALLEN: I had so much fun working on “NCIS”! My character is Faye Gussman who runs a guns and ammo show in Virginia.

What was your favorite part about this role? How about the toughest part?

CHALLEN: It was totally refreshing and satisfying to be a bit of a bad girl for a change. The cast and crew of “NCIS” have been together for eleven years and they still love each other and being on set. They welcomed me with open arms. The toughest part was saying goodbye at the end of the episode.

Be honest - is it more fun to play a nice Mommy or a bad-ass arms dealer?

CHALLEN: Ha! I love playing a bad-ass arms dealer! It's just so different from the real me. I've never fired a "real" gun in my life. But, truth be told, I also loved playing Mrs. Knight on “Big Time Rush.” She was a super sweet mom, but she could also kick some ass if it came down to protecting her kids.

You're also part of the all-star cast in "A Million Ways to Die in the West" -- what can you share with us about the film?

CHALLEN: “A Million Ways…” is going to be hilarious. I laughed so hard reading the script, I think my latte came out of my nose. The most amazing thing about working on AMW was being in a scene with my real-life husband and son ... and, oh, Liam Neeson!

How was Seth MacFarlane as a director? Is he as funny or unpredictable on-set as we imagine?

CHALLEN: Seth was wonderful as a director. He knows exactly what he wants out of a scene and has an ease in communicating with actors to achieve that goal. He was so kind and thoughtful with my son Colton who was only seven years old when we shot the film. On top of being incredibly funny, he can also be very focused and serious when it comes down to brass taxes—it was 108 degrees in the desert in July while we were shooting. Instead of taking a break, Seth grabbed a bucket of ice and just poured it over his head, so he could continuing directing and get his shots.

I'm sure fans would be mad if I don't ask -- any chance for a "Big Time Rush" reunion?

CHALLEN: Well, I sure would love that! We are all still a big happy family and love getting together. If the fans would like to see a reunion, I would be surprised if Nickelodeon didn't listen to their requests.

And finally, how can your fans keep up with your busy career?

CHALLEN: I love staying in touch with fans at @ChallenCates on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Whosay.

You can also find me on Facebook at

Thanks, Challen! Can’t wait to watch your new ‘bad’ self!

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