Actress from Morro Bay to appear on ‘NCIS’

It’s been said that if you want to be happy in life, pursue your bliss and make it pay. If that’s true, then Olivia Taylor Dudley, raised and educated in Morro Bay, is on the cusp of being ecstatic as she chases her dream of an acting career.

The aspiring 25-year-old actress, daughter of Jim and Saundra Dudley, will be playing the character Jancey Gilroy in tonight’s episode of “NCIS” with Mark Harmon. It airs on CBS at 8 p.m.

Then, on Feb. 11, a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston called “Just Go with It” will hit the theaters. Dudley plays a British nurse in the film.

Although preliminary reviews of the plot — Sandler as a plastic surgeon who uses a lame ruse to pick up women —haven’t been all that kind, it’s another step up the professional acting rung for Dudley.

“I’ve been in this crazy town for eight years now, working my butt off every day,” she said in an e-mail. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs for sure.”

One of the most grinding “downs” is “living in Hollywood as a broke artist. I have done everything from living off Top Ramen for weeks on end to taking toilet paper at coffee shops.”

But her work ethic is paying off. During the past four years, she has appeared in four films, and for the past 2½ years, she’s been involved in a web series called 5secondfilms, a project where she and a group of actors produce a new 5-second film every day. The series can be found at 5secondfilms.com.

Her acting chops have yielded a couple of big breaks. The film industry’s bible, Variety, recently carried a blurb on Dudley that noted she had signed with United Talent Agency, one of the more powerful agencies in Tinseltown, and that she continues to be managed by Mosaic, another industry powerhouse.

That representation has led to commercial work for Dickies and Adidas and a film with Brad Pitt called “Moneyball,” slated to be released at the end of the year.

The premise of the story is that Pitt plays Billy Beane, an Oakland A’s general manager who attempts to “put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players,” according to the trades.

Dudley plays the younger version of Robin Wright’s character, Sharon. Another actor in “Moneyball” is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, winner of a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Truman Capote.

When asked about her best experience in acting so far, Dudley “hmmmed” for a moment and said, “It was probably when I was in Oakland on the set of ‘Moneyball.’ We were shooting nights, and it was about 4 in the morning when we were shooting a scene in the bleachers of the baseball field.

“Phillip Seymour Hoffman was standing with my mother by the monitors watching me on camera. He was telling her how great I was doing, and it made my mom so proud.

“Then, after I was done, he came up to me and shook my hand and said, ‘great job, kid.’ It was definitely one of the highlights of my career so far.”

Then, with a final moment of thought, she added, “I luckily have some insane passion for this business that has kept me going, and making my family proud is all I need.”