‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Said Pilot Script ‘Jumped Out Different’ Than Anything Else He Had Read

by Quentin Blount

Ever thought about why NCIS is one of the longest-running shows in television history? One of the show’s stars had a good feeling about it after reading the pilot script.

We all know and love Mark Harmon as the main character of NCIS. In the show, he plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs — a former Marine Corps Scout Sniper turned special agent. And he has played that character since the show first aired back in September of 2003.

Needless to say, Harmon and NCIS have been around for a long time. In a 2017 interview with ET Canada, Harmon was asked whether or not he thought NCIS would make it this far. He says it was hard to predict they could have had this kind of success way back when they first release the pilot episode.

“I don’t know. I think when you do a pilot you hope for the best. But I don’t think anybody thinks in terms of that kind of longevity,” he explained. “But I do think that once you met the creative forces here — the show has always had a creative footprint — it’s been a little different in that there’s always a case, but the case doesn’t drive the show. It’s really about character, and there’s humor.”

Because of all of those different aspects, the Special Agent Gibbs actor said NCIS just stood out compared to other shows he had been a part of. And that’s saying something. Harmon also made appearances in shows like JAG, and The West Wing.

“It’s something that, to me anyway, the first time I read the pilot script it jumped out different than other things I have read.”

Mark Harmon Lists Other Reasons Why ‘NCIS’ Became So Successful

Mark Harmon definitely has a one-day-at-a-time kind of approach to his work. And perhaps that is why he is as successful as he is today. He doesn’t ever get too worried about the future.

“So, I don’t know if I ever thought it was going to run this long. But once you start working with this group, and you have the kind of process of change over the years that we’ve had — and this show caught on late. It didn’t catch on right at the beginning.”

He gives some of that credit to where they were able to film the show. NCIS was shot in Santa Clarita, California, a city in northwestern Los Angeles County.

“I always said that one of the great things that I think was a benefit of this show was us shooting out in Santa Clarita,” Harmon said. “We were far enough away that the network kind of left us alone. We weren’t bad enough to get canceled and we weren’t good enough to get much attention. So, we had a chance to work on this for quite a while which helped everybody involved.”