Why ‘NCIS’ Star David McCallum Never Knew He Was a ‘Heartthrob’ on ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’

by Katie Maloney

“NCIS” star David McCallum said he never understood why people fell in love with his character from “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and we only kind of believe him.

Actor David McCallum has captured the hearts of “NCIS” fans everywhere as Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the team’s chief medical examiner on the show. Although he’s no longer with the show full-time, he still keeps fans happy by making occasional appearances in episodes. However, this isn’t the first time fans have fallen in love with one of David McCallum’s characters. Let’s rewind 57 years to the day the iconic TV spy series, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” premiered. The show featured two top Agents of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.) as they fought anyone who threatened the country’s peace.

During the show, McCallum played Illya Kuryakin, a Russian secret agent with a range of weapons and explosives skills. Kuryakin held a Master’s degree from the college of Sorbonne and a Ph.D in Quantum Mechanics from the University of Cambridge. He spoke several languages including French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese. What was most pioneering about the show was the fact that they paired an American spy character, Napoleon Solo, with the Russian Kuryakin. The two worked together for an international espionage organization during the Cold War. So, McCallum’s character was intelligent, deadly, and one of the good guys – how can you not fall in love?

The Moment ‘NCIS’ Star David McCallum Finally Realized He Was a Heartthrob

Well, that’s exactly what most fans of the show did – they fell head over heels for David McCallum and his character. McCallum quickly became an international heartthrob. However, the actor could never really understand why so many people found him so attractive. I’m pretty sure that not thinking you’re a heartthrob pushes you to an even higher level of heartthrob-ness. During an interview in 2016, the “NCIS” star talked about how he finally came to understand why he was considered a heartthrob all those years ago.

“What`s quite extraordinary is that they`re playing “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” here for the first time on network television now and I`ve been sitting down watching them, watching myself fifty-two years ago. And at the time I had no idea why people had this emotional response to Illya Kuryakin. When you`re doing it, you don`t realize what it is you`re doing,” said McCallum. “But seeing it fifty years later I can see how people found him kind of enigmatic and attractive and just having fun. He was a cool character!”

He added that, now, he finally understands that he really was a cool guy (and definitely still is).

“It wasn`t until now that I managed to realize what that was like. Also, going on the internet, on YouTube, you come up with things like ‘The Andy Williams Show’ where I`m singing and dancing with Judy Garland, and another one with George Burns and Carol Channing and I`m dancing with these people! Whoever this guy was that was me once upon a time, he was a cool dude!” said the “NCIS” star.