‘NCIS’ Star Gary Cole Reveals If He Was a Fan of the Long-Running Series Before Joining Cast

by Megan Molseed

Gary Cole has been a mainstay on television and film for decades now. Over the years, the longtime actor has landed some iconic roles including portraying the ever-optimistic Brady Bunch patriarch Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie, the 1990s take of the hit 1970s series The Brady Bunch. Cole has also made it to cult-classic status, portraying the manager we all love to hate, Bill Lumbergh in the 1999 film Office Space. And, most recently, Cole has joined one of our favorite prime-time television teams taking on a role as NCIS leader Alden Parker in the hit CBS procedural drama series.

He’s landed this role so perfectly, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Even after his character is written into the series to replace longtime star and NCIS leader Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Cole had some big shoes to fill, no doubt. And we wonder, did Gary Cole know what he was stepping into when he took on this television role? It turns out the answer is yes; especially since the longtime actor has been a fan of the popular CBS procedural series. Long before his current role was even created in the popular series.

NCIS is a pretty hard show to miss,” Gary Cole says of the popular series.

“It’s always on somewhere,” the actor says. “So I watched it whenever I caught it.”

Gary Cole notes that one of the pieces that makes stepping into such a long-running series is how one can get “immersed quickly in an environment like this.”

In fact, the longtime star notes, the showrunners make it easy for an actor to connect with their NCIS character.

“What’s nice is the producers and writers go out of their way to personalize the character for you,” the NCIS star explains.

“There’s a kind of NCIS character bible,” he says.

“And they try to match some of my traits and backstory with Parker’s,” Cole continues. The actor remembers how the NCIS producers were quick to pull in some of Cole’s own experiences in his Alden Park character, especially the fact he is from Chicago.

Next thing I know, Parker’s from Chicago, too,” Gary Cole recalls. “You can really lean into those details for consistency and comfort.”

A trait he says, that makes bringing Alden Parker to life a little easier. He’s trying to fit in,” Cole says of the character. Cole adds that Parker’s biggest focus during his first season with the NCIS is discovering who he is on the team.

“He’s trying to prove himself,” the actor explains, noting he can easily relate to this situation.

“He’s a problem solver,” Cole says of Parker.