When Gary Cole joined the cast of NCIS as Gibbs’ replacement, he knew that he had huge shoes to fill. But thanks to the writers, he was able to find his place in the story with little trouble.
As Cole, who plays Alden Parker, shared with TV Insider, the long-running crime series was strategic about his introduction. Knowing that both the fans and fictional characters would have a hard time accepting anyone other than Gibbs at the helm, it immediately threw him into some drama. And it worked out well.
“The writers were very smart when they had [Parker] arrive during a conflict among the other characters,” he admitted. “They were chasing a serial killer and Parker was chasing the same one. They collided in the middle of a case, so there was immediate conflict and animosity [between them], which was good.”
“I thought it was handled pretty well,” he continued. “The most important thing was how he entered as a character. He didn’t just show up and say he was the new guy.”
To make fans fall in love with Gary Cole’s character, the NCIS writers made him out to be a hero. And the person he saved was Agent Gibbs.
Aldean Parker managed to save the legendary Special Agent in Charge from prison after he made went against protocol.
“My job is to simply tell the story of what they wrote,” Cole admitted. “And to make that and every scene work however it fits in the story.”
And his second task was to make the NCIS team fall in love with him. But that wasn’t so easy.
Gary Cole’s Parker Is a Respected Leader for the ‘NCIS’ Team
After spending decades with the sage Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the special agents weren’t so fast to accept their new supervisor. But Parker did manage to bring most of them to his side quickly.
However, one particular agent was reluctant to give Parker any respect.
“Initially, Torres [Wilmer Valderrama] is the most resistant,” Cole shared during an earlier interview with TVInsider. “Why, I’m not sure. McGee [Sean Murray], whose nature is intelligent and open, is reluctant at first but rolls with it. Jimmy [Brian Dietzen] and Kasie [Diona Reasonover]—they’re in a different world because they’re scientific.”
And both Sean Murray and his character Agent McGee also had a hard time saying goodbye to Gibbs, but for different reasons. On-screen, Gibbs was somewhat of a father figure to McGee. And off-screen, the relationship wasn’t much different. As Murray shared, he grew up with Mark Harmon. The two even starred in the movie Harts of the West when Murray was a teenager.
But despite the fact that he and Cole have a completely different dynamic, they’re enjoying their professional relationship. And Murray didn’t have any reservations while welcoming the new actor to the NCIS family.
“We’re having a blast,” he said. “We really are.”