‘NCIS’: Gibbs Actor Mark Harmon Explains Why the Show Has No Scripts in 2014 Interview

by Jacklyn Krol
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NCIS star Mark Harmon revealed why the show does not have any scripts.

In a 2014 interview with Larry King, Harmon revealed that the show did not have scripts for a time.

Mark Harmon said that now the cast receives scripts roughly 10 days before filming an NCIS episode.

“We used to not have them [scripts]. For four years we did a show without a script,” he told the legendary host. “We had no full script,” he explained. “You had sides, pages, you read. We read maybe two acts of a show and you went to work. And then the scenes came in piecemeal and you did ’em as you got them.”

So what exactly made the show’s creators shift to an actual script format? Mark Harmon explained that everything changed, including the actors.

“We changed the way the show is done and how we do it and the people involved in it,” he shared. “We’ve had changes in front of the camera, behind the camera. I think we’ve managed to get better by that.”

Cast changes have also influenced the show’s production. Harmon added that having a script is sometimes difficult while other times it can be helpful. At the end of the day, it does “change the footprint of the show.”

“It’s nice to have a script in advance and to look at a reading draft and be able to [take] notes,” he explained. Most actors wait until getting the next phase of the script, a shooting draft to take notes.

Mark Harmon’s ‘NCIS’ Family Ties

Did you know that Mark Harmon’s son Sean Harmon portrays a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS?

Sean first played the younger version in the 2008 episode, “Heartland.” Sean has guest-starred on a total of seven episodes. His most recent appearance was in the 2020 episode, “Everything Starts Somewhere.”

Mark Harmon previously told Entertainment Tonight that the opportunity came about after his son finished school. The timing was perfect as director Tony Wharmby asked for him to come in and read.

“And on his own he did and I’m proud of him taking his work seriously and how he approaches being an actor — not just on this show, [but] just what he has chosen to try to do in his life’s work,” he said.

Mark Harmon added that both of his sons’ work have made him proud. “They work hard at what they do and I’m proud that they get up in the morning and try to do that every day,” he concluded.

Outsider.com