‘NCIS’ Actor Mark Harmon Explained Why He’s Never Done His Own Stunts

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty Images)

NCIS star Mark Harmon does have an athletic background in college football, but he’s not going to be doing his own stunts anytime soon.

Why would Harmon, 69, who played quarterback at UCLA, decide against doing them? He talked about it during a 2018 interview with Rich Eisen on The Rich Eisen Show.

“No, there’s a thing called stuntmen,” Harmon said. “They’re really good at what they do. So I’m really eager to step aside and let them do their job.”

“You took your hits in Westwood or Pasadena,” Eisen said. “It’s not even that,” Harmon replied. “I look at it like it’s taking a job away from someone else so I don’t take people’s jobs.”

NCIS just finished its 18th season as Harmon’s character, Jethro Gibbs, saw his “Rule 91” boat go up in an explosion. Gibbs is seen swimming away but we’ll have to wait until next fall and the show’s 19th season to find out the details.

‘NCIS’ Star Says Acting Wasn’t At Top Of His List After College

You might think acting would have been Mark Harmon’s initial direction after college. He’s had, obviously, success on NCIS and, before that, St. Elsewhere.

But he didn’t head right to the television studios just yet.

On The Rich Eisen Show, Harmon revealed what he did before breaking into acting. 

“I had a bunch of different starts,” Harmon said. “I did a lot of jobs, I sold shoes, (and) I was in law school for a little bit.”

He added that he “worked for Adidas for about eight months, and before that, I was doing merchandising in radio in Los Angeles.”

Harmon didn’t pursue a pro football career. So he took acting classes, went to auditions, and started working as an actor. He found himself on studio sets with the likes of Jason Robards, Karl Malden, Michael Caine, and José Ferrer.

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“They were all humble; they all gave me valuable time and camaraderie and advice,” the NCIS star said.

That’s some pretty solid company to be around when starting out as an actor. Harmon has done well in his career, too.

NCIS has found its way among some of the top TV series in CBS history, too. Its 18 seasons on CBS puts it among the top longest-running series on The Tiffany Network. Gunsmoke, which also was on CBS, ran for 20 seasons. NCIS is at 18 seasons. What show is between the two? Think of a collie barking for help. Yep, Lassie aired for 19 seasons on CBS.

But Harmon and Co. are going to tie the four-legged hero for second place among CBS long-running series. Will it break Gunsmoke’s 20-season mark? We’ll have to wait and see.