‘NCIS’ Producers Explain How Mark Harmon Is So ‘Extraordinary’ Behind the Scenes

by Leanne Stahulak

“NCIS” fans already know how incredible Mark Harmon is on the show, but they may not realize how much of a gem he is behind the scenes too.

Earlier this week, Outsider sat in on a Q&A with a supervising producer for “NCIS,” Richie Owens, and a supervising producer for “NCIS: Los Angeles,” Chris Molnar. The two producers graduated from Miami University and hosted a webinar with Miami alumni to talk about their work on the two shows.

Owens started working on the hit CBS show all the way back in 2003, and he’s been with it ever since. Meaning, he’s also worked with Harmon for the past two decades or so. And although Harmon might’ve been the star of “NCIS” for several years, Owens said he never threw that around on or off-set.

“Oh, no, he’s the first guy to welcome guest cast when they come in,” Owens explained. “He’s the first guy to welcome them. He makes them a coffee, he brings them a water. Yeah, it’s extraordinary.”

Harmon even takes the time to talk with Miami University students who visit the set. The school sends a class out to Hollywood once a year, and while visiting Owens on set, the film students also get to talk with the “NCIS” star.

“He wasn’t even working that day. But he drove from his house to the set just to talk to the students and have lunch with them,” Owens revealed. “And he just makes sure that it’s an open environment and that anybody can ask any type of question. Because he knows that’s important [to them].”

CBS President Speaks on Difficulty of Replacing ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon

For this 19th season of “NCIS,” fans experienced a major change on the show. The longtime lead Mark Harmon, who played Special-Agent-in-Charge Leroy Jethro Gibbs, departed from the show. With Gibbs no longer the squad leader, the show had to write in a new character to take the reigns.

CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl spoke with TVLine earlier this week about the new adjustment in the show. She complimented Gary Cole, whose character Alden Parker has primarily filled in the gap left by Harmon’s Gibbs.

“Gary Cole is amazing. You don’t replace a Mark Harmon, but I really can’t think of any show that has done as great a job replacing really major characters over the years, and really staying top of mind for viewers,” Kahl explained. “You talk about somebody stepping up almost seamlessly into a role, and Gary Cole is the best.”

Several fans don’t mind Cole’s character and role in the show. But they really wish Harmon was still a part of it. Rather than Cole taking over for Harmon, they’d rather see how the two interact together instead.