‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Called His Role on ‘St. Elsewhere’ ‘Really Risky’

by John Jamison
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Since 2003, Mark Harmon has been playing Leroy Gibbs on “NCIS.” These days, it seems as if his role on the show is winding down. But back in the early 1980s, Harmon was enjoying the first huge break of his career. He had been acting for the decade prior and had found consistent work. It wasn’t until “St. Elsewhere” came along, however, that Mark Harmon arrived.

And the role itself proved to be a risky prospect at the time. But years later, that risk paid off in a big way, as Harmon made history with the Dr. Bobby Caldwell character from the show. Of course, he didn’t anticipate being celebrated for the portrayal of the first major TV character to contract AIDS. Harmon saw the job as a major opportunity, and despite the risks, he jumped at it.

In a 2012 interview with Variety that coincided with Harmon’s addition to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the longtime “NCIS” actor talked about the nature of the “St. Elsewhere” role.

“At the time it was really risky, but years later it was something people talk about and remember. What they were saying about that character was simply not being done at that time.”

From 1983 to 1986, the “NCIS” star played Dr. Bobby Caldwell in 64 episodes of the iconic show. One look at the rest of the cast from the show, and it makes perfect sense why Harmon took the job. Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, and David Morse all filled out the cast throughout its run from 1982 to 1988.

And where Harmon was one of many stars in an ensemble on “St. Elsewhere,” the last two decades of his career on “NCIS” have seen him as the vehicle for the show. But all good things must come to an end.

Who Could Possibly Replace Mark Harmon on ‘NCIS’?

In part due to that risky role, Mark Harmon has had almost 40 years of acting success since “St. Elsewhere.” Most notably, his portrayal of Special Agent Leroy Gibbs on “NCIS.”

The fan-favorite character has appeared in over 400 episodes of the long-running crime drama. Now, it looks as if Harmon is nearing the end of the road with Gibbs. Fans are asking themselves who could be brought in to replace him. And it raises an even bigger question, can the show survive without being led by Mark Harmon?

With multiple “NCIS” titles, including a “Hawai’i” version which is set to premiere in the fall, the days of the original “NCIS” are likely numbered. There is still an audience, but the person who has defined the show is already in a reduced role and is on his way out.

At present, it looks like Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee would be the best option to take over the void left by Gibbs. And it seems like the network has a remedy for Harmon’s absence with the addition of some new cast members that can help carry the show.

Outsider.com