‘NCIS’: First Technical Advisor Richard Warmack Heaps High Praise on Mark Harmon

by Jennifer Shea

The retirement of Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on NCIS was a watershed moment in television history. As legions of NCIS fans can attest, the show will never be quite the same without him. But luckily, Harmon himself, who has exerted such influence over the direction of the show, is keeping his oar in the water as an executive producer.

Harmon didn’t just leave his stamp on the show. He also left a strong impression on the people involved in it, as first technical adviser and former NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] agent Richard Warmack knows well. In a new piece for TV Insider, Warmack describes Harmon’s style and details their first meeting, which took place at Warmack’s house.

Warmack, who accidentally kept Harmon waiting due to a work emergency, said he found the actor personable and down-to-earth. The agent sensed a caring presence who was also diligent about doing his homework.

 NCIS Advisor Praises Harmon as ‘Sincere,’ ‘Indulgent’

Warmack said that while he knew the actor was there to pick his brain and thus gain some insights into his new role, “I also felt that he sincerely cared for others.” He could tell this from Harmon’s manner and questions.

“Mark listened intently as I answered his questions and we just talked about my experiences with the agency,” Warmack recalled. “At that stage of my career, I had been assigned overseas twice and had assignments on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S., including one at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. Mark was truly interested in hearing about all of those assignments and how the work differed in each.”

The following day, Harmon and Warmack took a little field trip to the Camp Pendleton Field Office so Harmon could get a sense of what an NCIS headquarters is like. Warmack quickly grew to see Harmon as a person rather than a celebrity, and he would later learn that he was not alone in that process.

“During that drive, I felt as though we were just a couple of friends on a road trip,” Warmack wrote. “As I would later learn, Mark had that effect on people. He was a celebrity, yet quickly connected with people on a personal level and made them feel comfortable.”

Harmon Was Patient and Respectful, Which ‘Meant Everything’

Harmon went on to meet both the agents and the support staff at the Camp Pendleton office. He maintained a “genuine and respectful” demeanor throughout, Warmack recounted. On their drive back, Warmack could tell that he and Harmon saw eye-to-eye about the importance of the NCIS and its mission.

As the show got underway, Warmack continued to dispense advice, and he realized as he did that Harmon was patiently listening to things he already knew without interrupting or stopping Warmack. Ever polite, the actor just absorbed it all quietly.

“I spent a lot of time with Mark and the other cast members on the set as they filmed the first season,” Warmack said. “[Harmon] was always indulgent, letting me tell him how to do things that I knew he probably already knew about how law enforcement people do things. Above all, I remember Mark showed such respect for our agency and what we do, and that meant everything to me.”

Now, 19 seasons later, Warmack can take pride in a mission accomplished: his contributions to NCIS helped the agency look good on television. And not only Gibbs but the entire cast has become beloved among its many fans, showing that in fiction as in real life, law enforcement agents rely on teamwork.