‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Has One Surprising Real-Life Connection to Gibbs Character

by Emily Morgan

Even if you aren’t a fan of CBS’ popular crime drama, “NCIS,” you likely know that Mark Harmon is one of the show’s lead actors, playing Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Although Harmon may not be as serious and hardened as his character in real life, he does share connections with his character off-camera.

Even though Harmon was never in the military, someone very close to him was. According to IMDb, Gibbs’ father, Jackson Gibbs (Ralph Waite), is a WWII US Army Air Force pilot. In fact, Harmon’s father, Tom Harmon, was also a military veteran in real life.

Previously, Harmon has described himself as being the son of a military veteran. In 1986, Harmon spoke openly about how he was raised. “He raised me hard. And when I say hard, I mean hard. I was taught to fight for everything and that the only way to go about getting something was with everything you had.” 

Years later, Mark Harmon used that same discipline he received from his childhood for the role of Gibbs. “What attracted me to this, initially, was the character and the fact that this show had humor,” he told CBS about the role. “And that’s what made a difference for me. … I like this character a lot. And like him a lot because I’m greatly attracted to his flaws. And he has so many of them. There are a lot of things he does really well, and there are a lot of things he does horribly.”

Mark Harmon’s Hobby Connection With ‘NCIS’ Character

In addition to the military connection, Mark Harmon and Gibbs also have a hobby in common. He passed his real-life love of carpentry on to his onscreen character. Since Harmon was young, he has always been interested in woodworking. After taking on the role, he’s been able to work in some screen time for personal carpentry tools, with his character now focusing on a boat-building scheme.

Additionally, in a 2006 interview with Sunset, Harmon spoke candidly about how he learned carpentry from his father. He told the publication, “I used to hang out in my dad’s workshop on weekends. … Later, when I was starting out as an actor, I became a roofer and a framer to make money. But what I really enjoyed was finish work. I like the longevity of it: If you do it right, it will be around a lot longer than you are.”