‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Compares Acting to Being a UCLA Quarterback in 2014 Interview

by Evan Reier

For any diehard NCIS or Mark Harmon fan, it’s not a new fact that the Leroy Jethro Gibbs actor had a storied college football career.

The son of a Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon, Mark was always going to grow up around football. He took to it like a fish in water, and while he wasn’t quite the name his dad was in the sport, it led to an offer from UCLA.

Harmon went on to take the Bruins to a 17-5 record in his starts at quarterback. Further, Harmon rushed for 1,504 yards and 14 touchdowns in two seasons at UCLA.

But was being a big-time football player as enticing as big-time acting? Harmon answered a fan’s question during an interview with Larry King in 2014 on that exact subject.

“Was being a quarterback at UCLA a bigger thrill than acting?” the question from a fan read.

After a moment of hesitation, King piggybacks it to say it is indeed a good question. The NCIS star began his answer by giving context to his perspective in his younger days.

“I think certainly as a kid,” Harmon started. “Spending as much time as I did here in Los Angeles at the Coliseum with my dad when he was broadcasting and looking at that field as I did. Cause when I went to the games with my dad, I didn’t just watch the game, I worked.

“But looking at that tunnel and the players coming out the tunnel and then at 18, having a chance to come out of that tunnel in front of 90,000 people, that was a dream come true.”

Understandably so. No matter what your childhood dreams centered around, the picture Harmon paints isn’t hard to understand. However, the NCIS star also added a second side to his answer by relating it to acting.

NCIS Star Mark Harmon Weighs Acting Career to Boyhood Dream

As mentioned above, the specific question asked was whether Mark Harmon found football or acting to be a greater thrill. While the NCIS star didn’t hold back his emotions when talking about the football side of his life, he also made it a point to say that acting has matched that.

“So was that a thrill? Absolutely,” Harmon said. “Is working on a show like the show I’m working on now and being around long enough to enjoy the success its had a thrill? Equally so in different ways.”

Larry King then brought up a salient point about the winning and losing of sports. The legendary interviewer said many walks of life don’t have a “final score” hanging above their head. In a moment that showed Harmon still has a bit of that athlete mindset, he adds another point about how an athlete’s mentality works.

“Yeah, and the ones they remember more,” the NCIS actor added. “Are the ones they lost.”

Like straight out of a book of Vince Lombardi quotes. Either way, it’s clear that Harmon is thankful, and that a love for both football and acting has translated to a jam-packed life.