‘NCIS’: Why Mark Harmon Was Nearly Passed Over for Role on the Show

by Clayton Edwards
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NCIS hit the airwaves back in September of 2003. It quickly became one of the biggest shows on television. Now, eighteen seasons and over 400 episodes in, fans still love the show. The hit crime drama brings both engaging plotlines and lovable characters to the screen. Who could forget Pauley Perrette’s Abby? Who doesn’t love David McCallum’s Ducky? The list goes on. Those characters are gone now. However, Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs is still there, leading his team.

Mark Harmon is the one thing that fans of NCIS can count on. In fact, he almost left the show at one point and showrunners were likewise thinking about calling it quits. Harmon is the lynchpin of the series just like Gibbs keeps his team together on the screen. However, he almost didn’t get the role for a pretty incredible reason.

Mark Harmon: Too Hot for NCIS

Don Bellisario, NCIS writer and showrunner, didn’t think Mark Harmon would be right for the series. When he looked at Harmon he saw a “pretty boy,” according to Entertainment Weekly. By the time they were putting together the cast for the JAG spinoff, Harmon was already established. He was a sex symbol. In fact, he was People Magazine’sSexiest Man Alive,” in 1986. That really hasn’t changed. You have to admit, he’s still a good-looking guy almost twenty years after joining the cast. His silver hair and piercing blue eyes are a killer combination.

To Bellisario, Mark Harmon was too hot to play the grizzled Agent Gibbs. His good looks almost disqualified him from the role on NCIS. That is until Bellisario saw Harmon’s run on The West Wing.

Mark Harmon played Secret Service agent Simon Donovan for four episodes of The West Wing. That short sting earned him an Emmy nomination. It also proved to NCIS showrunners that he was the right man to play the role of Gibbs.  

Gibbs Was Almost Played by Another Famous Heartthrob

Mark Harmon was too hot for the role. However, the role might have gone to one of Hollywood’s finest silver foxes if things had gone a little differently. Harrison Ford was on the shortlist to play Gibbs, according to Express. That outlet reported that Ford was going through a slump during the time when they were casting for NCIS. His agents and other colleagues urged him to go out for the role. However, he decided against it.

NCIS would have been completely different without Mark Harmon. However, it’s hard not to wonder what it would have been like with Indiana Jones helming the team.

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