Executive Producer Reveals Shocking Truth About Mark Harmon's Role in 'NCIS' for Fans
It's hard to imagine anyone else but Mark Harmon playing the role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. However, it seems that this possibility was once a reality.
As the hit CBS drama celebrates 20 years of being on the air, The Hollywood Reporter published an oral history with some of the creative minds behind the show’s success. Eventually, the conversation turned to how casting directors found Mark to play the lead character, executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson delivered a shocking revelation. As it turns out, another famous actor’s name was in the running to play the iconic role.
“I know Harrison Ford was a name that everybody thought about for Gibbs because he was so perfect,” Charles revealed in the article published on September 25. “But I don’t think it ever got further than… it was a name thrown out.”
Charles wasn’t the only one who remembered the 1923 star being a frontrunner to portray Gibbs. Peter Golden, former head of CBS casting, also mentioned how they wanted Harrison for the part. But unlike today’s television, it was a rarity for a then-known movie star to step into the world of TV.
“When you sit down, and you have an initial conversation about casting, no name is off the table,” he added about that time. “Back in the early 2000s, the Harrison Fords of the world [rarely did TV]. But that didn’t mean you didn’t put them on the list.”
While the show’s higher-ups couldn’t necessarily snag Harrison for NCIS, they certainly lucked out with giving Mark the part of Gibbs. What’s more, the show’s co-creator Donald P. Bellisario was on board with casting The West Wing alum in what would become his most iconic role.
“Mark was a big deal, and everybody thought, “We’ll make an offer to Mark Harmon, and when we don’t get him, let’s go through the list of who else we could get,” Peter added. “Mark had a meeting with Don Bellisario, and they hit it off, and Mark agreed to do it. All of a sudden, the show took on much more importance in my mind.”
Needless to say, Mark becoming Gibbs would change the course of making NCIS. The show immediately took off, and Mark stayed until he eventually left partway through season 19. Let’s just say we’re lucky to have seen Mark in this role.