Lucas Black said goodbye to "NCIS: New Orleans" in 2019 - and has not looked back since.
The actor, one of the original cast members of the "NCIS" spinoff, starred as agent Christopher LaSalle from 2014 until he was killed off in Season 6. The 39-year-old also appeared on "NCIS" from 2014 to 2017.
"I think going into the series I realized that the way it operates, it wasn't gonna last forever for me," Black explained to Fox News Digital. "Being in the entertainment business since I was an early child, I was able to recognize how destructive it can be to families. Most of the time that's because you're away from home for a long time and the working hours are very long… For three years, it was normal to work 70 hours a week.
"I would go to work, the kids would still be in bed. I would come home and they would already be in bed for the night going to sleep again. That doesn't bode too well with your relationship with your children… so for us, we knew that couldn't last forever."
"The show was good to us," the father of three shared. "We had a good time. It was a good run, and we sacrificed a lot of family time. But at some point, enough was enough. It was time for us to… take back a lot of that time and spend that quality time with each other that was sacrificed for six years."
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The star said that his cast mates "respected" his decision to exit the popular CBS series.
"I think at first they might have been surprised," he said. "Because of the way information gets passed along, it can seem kind of sudden. But it wasn't sudden for me. It's something that I had been thinking about for a long time. But most of the cast respected it, and they understood the reasons why because they know the grind of network television."
Black said he still has fond memories of co-stars Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly.
"It was fun working with Mark," said Black. "I remember the first two episodes that I worked on… [we] were talking about the schedule and how it was gonna be a grind. Mark said, 'Yeah, you're gonna learn how to take naps.' That was so true… I would take a nap during lunch break to stay fresh for the evening work."
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While Black is now happily spending more quality time with his family, he is also keeping busy with acting. He is currently starring in Pure Flix's "Legacy Peak," in which his character goes on an adventure to win the hearts of his love interest's children. Black said it was his wife who convinced him to take on the film.
"It was really an answered prayer for me and my family," he said. "When I read the script, I didn't talk about it with my wife. I just asked her to read it. She read it, and she comes to me with tears in her eyes and says, 'I don't know why you wouldn't want to be a part of this project.'
"We decided to take a year off and really reflect and connect with my Heavenly Father and spend time together as a family. [But] we also noticed a big culture shift in 2020. I felt like for a long time that entertainment [had] undermined the fatherhood role… The fatherhood role [was] under attack.
"So to get a script like 'Legacy Peak,' one that is a positive fatherhood story, one that puts fathers in a good light, one that uplifts and encourages… I couldn't say no," he continued. "This is a story that you can sit down and watch with your whole family. And fathers should be proud that their kids are seeing it, that it's going to put them in a good light. That's one of the reasons why we chose to do this project. And I couldn't be happier how it turned out."
As Black looks to the future, he is hoping to be involved with films that will continue to share a positive message for families.
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"I would love to see films that embrace the character traits that God has given to man to protect the innocent and to provide for the innocent," he shared. "If we use the traits that God has given us as a man to do good, that would be embraced instead of being looked at as negative… I would love to see content that embraces the qualities that God has given man to do good. I think 'Legacy Peak' does that. My character uses those traits to protect the kids, to protect the innocent, to provide for them, to keep them alive as they survive in the wilderness. I think that's needed in our culture today. I think we need to celebrate the men in our culture instead of tearing them down."
These days, the Alabama native is happily focused on his children as he teaches them his love for the great outdoors, including hunting and fishing.
"You have to be intentional about your core values, especially as a parent [in terms of] how you want to spend time with your children, how you want that relationship to be and what you want it to look like," Black said. "We can easily get caught up in our careers, our selfish ambitions… God's given us a responsibility to provide for our family, but we've gotta have that margin in our lives. We need to be present in our children's lives."
"That can be hard to do," he admitted. "I think it took time for me. I had to [sit] down and focus on how I want to spend time with my kids and what that's going to look like… I want to be there for them. God's given us a responsibility to protect them and teach them. And we have to do that now because there are so many ways they're getting attacked [by] our culture. We have to be intentional about what they see on screens and what kind of information they're hearing."
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Black also shared he was eager to play a character that "points people to Jesus."
"[The film] shows you can find healing from him," he said. "My character looks to God for help. He goes to him in prayer throughout the whole story… He had some pain in his early childhood that his earthly father left him... But he has found the love of his Heavenly Father. That fulfills and satisfies him."