‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Explained How Show’s Filming Location Benefitted Them

by Amy Myers

Although NCIS has its cast and crew to thank for almost all of the show’s success, star Mark Harmon stated that another filming aspect also played a part over the years—location. Harmon plays the crime drama’s lead agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who acts as the voice of reason and fearless leader of the crime-fitting crew.

When creating a show based on a real-life department like NCIS, you would think that the best filming location is where the real-life inspiration is. For the award-winning series, this would mean that shooting would have to happen on Russell Knox building on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. Or, given the fact that the crew might not have the needed clearance for the base, maybe the show would choose a location with at least some similar characteristics. For the fictitious NCIS, its location is a bit of a stretch from the original–a roughly 2,500-mile stretch.

Since 2003 when the show first aired, NCIS’s primary filming location has been in Valencia Studios in Santa Clarita, California. Although far from the show’s depicted location on the East Coast, star Mark Harmon claimed in an interview with ET Canada that the actual spot was ideal for their initial situation.

“I always said one of the great things I think was a benefit to this show was us shooting out in Santa Clarita. We were far enough away that the network kind of left us alone, and we weren’t bad enough to get canceled. We weren’t good enough to get attention,” NCIS star Harmon said.

Because of the distance from the network, Harmon said the show had time to improve and mature. And with 18 seasons and 27 awards counting, it seems Santa Clarita fulfilled its purpose.

‘NCIS’ Star Admits He Didn’t Expect Show to Run This Long

Ever the humble Hollywood star, Mark Harmon is not one to gloat about his or NCIS’s success. In fact, it seems that when the microphone is present, Harmon is a bit uncomfortable with flattering questions.

Harmon revealed in his interview with ET Canada his thoughts about the show when first becoming familiar with the storyline. The star reported that he didn’t foresee NCIS becoming the success it is today.

Harmon also stated that he was optimistic when he first read the show’s pilot episode, as the script “jumped out different than other things I had read.” Downplaying his own talents still, he credited the show’s “creative force” for its endurance.

“I think when you do a pilot, you hope the best. I don’t think anyone thinks in terms of that kind of longevity… There’s always a case, but the case doesn’t drive the show. It’s always been about character, and there’s humor,” Harmon shared.