‘NCIS’ Star David McCallum Opened Up About Sharing Screen Time With ‘Dead Bodies’

by John Jamison
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David McCallum’s “Ducky” Mallard character knows a thing or two about dead bodies. As the actor behind the longtime medical examiner on NCIS, McCallum has worked opposite countless actors who played dead as he conducted autopsies. He talked about what that dynamic was like nearly a decade ago.

In terms of NCIS, a decade ago doesn’t even seem that far back. For David McCallum especially, who has been playing Ducky since the show began in 2003, 10 years barely accounts for half of his tenure with the series. In fact, according to IMDb, the Ducky actor is the only other NCIS cast member besides Mark Harmon to have logged at least 422 episodes.

That’s a lot of bodies. During a 2009 interview with CBS News, the entire cast of NCIS sat down on set to talk shop. They answered fan questions, and one of them inquired about Ducky’s propensity for talking to dead bodies. And, well, it’s easy for fans to forget that those are actually living, breathing people McCallum is standing over.

“I always worry about it because it’s freezing cold in there because the air conditioning’s so great. And these poor actors and actresses come along and lie on a steel table. And so our main concern with the bodies is to keep them warm, keep them happy, and let them go home in one piece,” said McCallum.

Jimmy Palmer Actor Brian Dietzen Talks ‘NCIS’ Exits

Brian Dietzen is what we might refer to as a second-generation NCIS cast member. He missed the show’s first season but joined in 2004 and has been involved ever since. He’s seen his fair share of other cast members come and go over his 17 years on the series.

Dietzen talked to Variety in 2017 about Michael Weatherly’s massive exit from the show and what the absence of DiNozzo meant for the rest of the cast.

“There’s a sense of opportunity there,” Dietzen began, referring to the space left behind by Weatherly leaving. “I think that when Michael left — a wonderful storyteller and performer with such a huge energetic presence — that naturally left a vacuum of some sort.”

The Jimmy Palmer actor went on to describe how much he appreciated the show neglecting to bring someone in to fill the void. We’ve seen that happen recently with Leroy Gibbs actor Mark Harmon’s exit, but the situations were completely different.

“It’s been great to see not a singular direct replacement for his character come in. Which I think would have been such a misstep. With things like this happening, a Jimmy Palmer episode, we can say, ‘Look! We also have this guy in our stable. Let’s concentrate on him for a week,” Dietzen continued.

Outsider.com