‘NCIS’: What David McCallum First Thought of Ducky After Reading the Script

NCIS star David McCallum is best known for his role as Ducky on NCIS. Here’s what McCallum thought of the character when he first received the script.

How David McCallum became famous

David McCallum and Brian Dietzen | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
David McCallum and Brian Dietzen | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

David McCallum made his acting debut in 1953 in the mini-series The Rose and the Ring. He played the role of Giglio. In 1957, he made his film debut in the movie Night Ambush. McCallum landed a recurring role in the TV series Our Mutual Friend. He played the role of Eugene Wrayburn from 1958 to 1959. The actor got his big break after playing Ashley-Pitt ‘Dispersal’ in the 1963 film The Great Escape. McCallum is also known for starring in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in which he played the role of Illya Kuryakin from 1964 to 1968.

How long David McCallum has played Ducky

David McCallum | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images
David McCallum | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

McCallum first appeared on NCIS in a 2003 episode titled “Yankee White.” His character, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, is the chief medical examiner. One of Ducky’s quirks is talking to the cadavers while he works on them. During season 6 episode 17, in an episode titled “South by Southwest,” Ducky said dead bodies tell him a lot about the cases, so it’s only fair for him to talk back. “Their bodies tell me a great deal, it helps to reciprocate,” he said. Ducky is also known for having long-winded discussions with his co-workers and sharing stories from the past. Before NCIS, McCallum appeared on the series The Education of Max Bickford from 2001 to 2002. He played the character Walter Thornhill.

What David McCallum thought of Ducky

David McCallum | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images
David McCallum | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

McCallum had a strong reaction to Ducky after reading the script for the first time. He told CBS the character seemed to “jump off the page.” McCallum was so impressed with the writing he said he felt like telling the producers he would work for free:

[A character] either comes off the page or jumps off the page. And when they jump off the page, you want to go immediately to whoever has asked you to do it and say, ‘I would do this for nothing. I love this.’ And that was the reaction I had with Ducky. There’s something in the writing, in the idea, everything about it. I mean, what’s not to like about Ducky?

Read more: ‘NCIS’: David McCallum Said Cote de Pablo Made a ‘Bad Career Move’

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