‘NCIS’: David McCallum Revealed His Greatest Accomplishment is Not Related to Acting

by Josh Lanier

David McCallum is proud of his work on NCIS, but he’s acted in massively successful television shows before. He was one of the biggest stars in the world during his time on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But he considers something outside of acting as one of the most interesting endeavors of his career.

For 18 seasons McCallum has played quirky medical examiner Donald “Duckie” Mallard turned historian on NCIS. But he spent almost as much time writing his book, Once a Crooked Man, which was released in 2016.

He explained to Vulture Hound at the time that he didn’t set out to write a novel. It started out as a writing exercise that grew into something much larger.

“I sat down about fourteen years ago and decided to teach myself how to write,” he said. “I would write a couple of pages and then chuck them away, and I kept on writing stuff, putting it away, writing stuff, putting it away, and eventually, I finished a book to a certain extent. But by the time I’d finished it, a lot of it was very old-fashioned and not really up to date. Three years ago, I decided it was a shame to just leave it laying about Id had too much fun doing it, so purely for pleasure, I finished it.”

McCallum said publishing a novel felt strange because he had so little control in the end.

“I think the pleasure of actually having this book published, something that you’ve worked so hard on,” he said. “… It’s unique in a way because when you finish a book and it’s published, you don’t have anything to do with it other than the promotion of the book. It`s a great pleasure to just watch and see how the whole thing emerges.”

‘NCIS’ Star McCallum Was Once ‘A Cool Dude’

NCIS star David McCallum said he finally realized why people considered him a heartthrob during his time on Man From U.N.C.L.E. Though, he didn’t understand it until 50 years after the show had ended.

“What’s quite extraordinary is that they’re playing The Man From U.N.C.L.E. here for the first time on network television now and I`ve been sitting down watching them, watching myself fifty-two years ago,” he told Vulture Hound. “And at the time I had no idea why people had this emotional response to (my character) Illya Kuryakin. When you`re doing it, you don`t realize what it is you`re doing. But seeing it 50 later I can see how people found him kind of enigmatic and attractive and just having fun. He was a cool character!”

The NCIS actor said when he sees clips of himself from back then, it’s hard to believe that was him.

“Also, going on the internet, on YouTube, you come up with things like The Andy Williams Show where I’m dancing with Judy Garland, and another one with George Burns and Carol Channing,” he said. “And I’m dancing with these people! Whoever this guy was that was me once upon a time, he was a cool dude!”