‘NCIS’ Reportedly In Talks with Gary Cole for ‘Major’ Role in Season 19

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

NCIS showrunners are in talks with Gary Cole to join the show for next season. Is it possible the 64-year-old actor could be a substitute for Mark Harmon?

Variety broke the news about Cole, Wednesday afternoon. The actor has done comedy and drama throughout his career in Hollywood. His dramatic roles pack some heft.

Most recently, Cole played Kurt McVeigh, a ballistics expert, in both The Good Wife and spinoff The Good Fight. He also portrayed a father/grandfather in Mix-ish, a comedy that recently was canceled by ABC. Cole has played lawmen, a fire chief and the country’s vice president on The West Wing.

He’s also starred in comedies that grew into cult classics. He was Bill Lumbergh in Office Space; Reese Bobby in Talladega Nights and Cotton McKnight in Dodgeball. Cole even played Mike Brady in some Brady Bunch reunion movies. Fans also know him from Veep and Entourage.

CBS renewed NCIS for a 19th season earlier this year. However, the network did so only after Mark Harmon agreed to continue his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the special agent in charge. Harmon reportedly wanted off the show. But CBS threatened to cancel the series if Harmon did not sign.

Mark Harmon Likely to Have Limited NCIS Role in Season 19

The season 18 finale — Rule 91 left so many questions. NCIS said goodbye to major character Ellie Bishop, who was played by Emily Wickersham. No one knew beforehand that Wickersham wanted to leave the show. But she exits after trashing her NCIS reputation so she could go deep undercover.

There also was a major cliffhanger involving Gibbs. He’d been serving a suspension for the later half of the season after he assaulted a suspect who abused dogs. While on suspension, Gibbs worked with Marcie, an investigative journalist, on a case involving a potential serial killer. Pam Dawber, Harmon’s real-life wife, plays Marcie.

In the NCIS finale, Gibbs figured out that his home was being bugged. Was the serial killer on to them? Gibbs and Marcie appeared to have clues about where another body was dumped. Then, as the episode ended, Gibbs gave his approval for Bishop to walk away from NCIS. Then he took out his boat for the first time. As he was enjoying the sunshine on the lake, the boat blew up.

As NCIS fans — momentarily — believed Gibbs died in the blast, cameras showed him swimming away from the debris. Did he fake his own death? Or, did he luckily survive a bomb placed by someone else? Who might that be? Fan sites keep speculating that Marcie is the real serial killer. But they’re guessing.

Now comes the news about NCIS casting Cole for an unknown role. Variety also reported that NCIS may cast other new characters. There will be other changes. NCIS moves to a Monday time slot for the fall, followed by the new spinoff, NCIS: Hawai’i.

Stay tuned.