updated 09/24/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 09/24/2013 AT 4:45 PM ET
Cote de Pablo shocked NCIS fans in July when she announced that she was leaving TV’s number one drama after eight seasons.
But the actress – who has played fan favorite Ziva David since the show’s third season – never revealed the reason for her departure, and in a new interview with TV Guide she says she’s not going to.
“As far as my decision to leave, that’s a personal thing, and I’d rather leave it at that,” de Pablo, 33, tells the magazine. “The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing – at times terrifying,” she says.
Adds de Pablo: “I was incredibly moved by the blind support people had without ever getting reasons as to why I left,” she says. “People trusted that what I was doing was what I needed to do, and that’s unconditional love from people who don’t even know me. That’s been the most beautiful thing out of this process,” she says.
Although de Pablo wont be back on NCIS as a series regular in season 11 (premiering tonight), she will be back to wrap up Ziva’s story line – including a farewell episode slated for Oct. 1.
“As far as the ‘Tiva’ fans, they’ll get a resolution they’ve awaited for years,” de Pablo says of her character’s onscreen will they/won’t they romance with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).
“There is a level of confession,” she teases. “And if it takes a big change like this to stir things up, it’s all for the better. I’m a fan of the show!”
Asked directly if she’d ever return to NCIS in the future, de Pablo explained it’s possible.
“The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn’t die,” she says. “As long as a character doesn’t die, the character can always come back. Not that it would actually matter, because we bring back characters from the dead all the time on NCIS!”
NCIS premieres Tuesday at 8/7c on CBS.