‘NCIS’ Actors Revealed Why Mark Harmon Was So Great To Work With

by Suzanne Halliburton

Leroy Jethro Gibbs may still be in Alaska for all NCIS fans know. No one has seen Mark Harmon on the CBS procedural since October.

But Harmon’s Gibbs was mentioned Jan. 3 (happy face). In fact, NCIS writers devoted a nice chunk of dialogue to Gibbs, the now-former special agent in charge of the NCIS office in D.C. It seems that Gibbs gifts the children of agents with funds for college. McGee and Jimmy were on the receiving ends of such gifts in the episode called Pledge of Allegiance. Gibbs did something similar for Vance years before. So Gibbs lived on, even it was dialogue only.

But it turns out that Harmon’s co-stars really did like working with him and were appreciative of what the actor did for the show, which is now in its 19th season.

Here’s what David McCallum, who portrays Dr. “Ducky” Mallard, said about Harmon way back in 2007, when NCIS was in its fourth year.

“There was always a certain degree of chaos,” McCallum said of about the initial production days. “But it’s all gone now. Mark was instrumental in putting our house in order — I really thank him for that.”

Michael Weatherly, who portrayed Gibbs’ right-hand man Tony DiNozzo, also was complimentary of Harmon’s professionalism on set.

Harmon is “a very rare person in this business because there’s no assistant, no entourage,” Weatherly said. “Mark is largely just a very straightforward, approachable, calm, assertive guy. He’s not a people pleaser.”

Maybe that’s because Harmon looked to James Garner as a mentor.

Patrick McElhenney/CBS ©2015

Then in 2019, Cote de Pablo, aka Ziva David, talked about her appreciation for Harmon. De Pablo made two stints on the show, leaving in 2013, then returning in 2018 for a four-episode arc. So she worked with Harmon towards the beginning of NCIS and then later in the show.

“We were always trying to infuse [scenes] with different things, try something new,” De Pablo said. “Mark has been here for years, and he’s still bringing it.”

But Harmon decided not to bring it much, if at all, after the NCIS episode Great Wide Open, which ran Oct. 11. Fans remain hopeful he’ll return, at least for an appearance. And NCIS producers never ruled it out.

About the only cast member who didn’t publicly appreciate Harmon was Pauley Perrette, who portrayed Abby. The two had a falling out in 2016. Reportedly, this was after Harmon’s dog bit a crew member. CBS officials acknowledged that Perrette talked to them about a workplace issue. In 2019, Perrette tweeted: “NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER! (Please stop asking?) I am terrified of Harmon and him attacking me. I have nightmares about it.”

NCIS continues without Harmon. In fact, there are two new permanent cast members this season. Gary Cole, as Alden Parker, is the special agent in charge. And Katrina Law, as Jess Knight, joined the cast as Torres’ new partner.

Here’s the CBS plot tease for All Hands, which is set for this Monday: “After a civilian research vessel in the North Atlantic picks up a small boat of wounded Navy officers, NCIS arrives on the ship and is forced to hide after discovering terrorists on board. Also, Agent Knight takes a paper doll with her on the mission to capture photos for her niece’s grade school class.”

If you’d like to catch up on the last new episode, click it here for the Outsider recap from Jan. 3.