Recently, NCIS star David McCallum shared just how he ended up landing his infamous role of Ducky. And it proves that the creators knew from the start that the actor was made for the legendary part.
On Friday, June 10th, McCallum met with The Television Academy Foundation for a virtual interview. And during the chat, he detailed exactly how his audition process went down.
In the charming story, McCallum began by remembering exactly where he was when he got the news that the series was eyeing him for a character.
He was walking down Park Avenue when his cell phone rang and his agent said, “we’d like you to go to Bonnie Timmerman’s office and put something on tape for a show called NCIS. And you’re playing a character called Ducky, who is a lecher. He leers at women, and that’s the only thing we seem to be able to find out about him.”
While he laughed at the “dark casting,” he headed straight to the office and wowed them with his unique take on the script. Instead of simply sitting at a table and reading the lines, he imagined himself in the actual studio at a crime scene.
“The camera was here, and I was down on the floor,” he shared. “And [Bonnie] said, ‘why are you on the floor? Get up.’
But David McCallum did not stand up. He shot back and told her to tip the camera down because he had “a dead body, and it’s on the floor,” and she obliged.
So the actor filmed the entire audition under his terms and “then walked away” hoping for the best. And, as we all know, the method did work out for the best. Shortly after, McCallum got a call back for a Los Angeles reading.
David McCallum Had No Troubles Earning his Spot on ‘NCIS’
David McCallum’s first LA reading was at CBS studios with creator Donald P. Bellisario. Inside a “little projection room,” McCallum sat with Susan Bluestone, the NCIS casting director, and played Ducky while she stood in for the other characters.
“[She] was so charming and so supportive and wonderful during these occasions, ” he gushed.
But what he remembers most about that day was another man who was also up for the role. Unlike McCallum, he didn’t have a smooth audition. And he made that abundantly clear as he left the building.
“[He] came out cursing very loudly—expletive deleted. And I said, ‘yes!’ Terrible thing to do,” he laughed guiltily.
McCallum then went into another reading, feeling a bit more confident than before, and showcased his version of Ducky, once again on the floor. And with that, NCIS “produced a contract” for him and the other men who made it to the final rounds, just “in case” they were offered a job.
Then, the star drove to Paramount and “did the same thing over again.” And at that point, he knew that he “might have a shot” at landing the gig.
While he was driving away from Hollywood, however, he suffered a short run of bad luck when his rental car blew a tire. But that luck made a swift recovery just after he swapped the flat for a donut.
“I got a phone call that said I got the job,” he remembered with a smile. ” And I said, ‘well then, I’m gonna go get a car that works.’ And, that was it.”