‘NCIS:’ Michael Weatherly Says No One Does This Like Mark Harmon

Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon starred across from each other in NCIS from 2003 until Weatherly left the series in 2016. Going on to lead his own show, Bull, Michael Weatherly has made quite the impact on CBS. However, fans of the actor will always remember him as the quick-tongued – often childish in behavior – Tony DiNozzo.

Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon
Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon | Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

When Michael Weatherly left, NCIS had to manage quite the blow, as he was not the first fan favorite to leave the show with plans of achieving a little Hollywood stardom (outside the procedural’s safety net). Though he may no longer be with the series, he formed quite the bond with Harmon throughout his time on the show.

Michael Weatherly once described Harmon as an “old-fashioned, old-school gentleman,” and when leaving NCIS, explained that he looked towards the future, with plans “to take a lot of that Mark Harmon wisdom” with him.

During an interview with TV Guide, Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon sat down to discuss the show, the impact of flashbacks, and more. During their conversation, Weatherly revealed the one thing he believes no one does quite like Mark Harmon.

Michael Weatherly on Mark Harmon’s “slow burn” as Agent Gibbs in ‘NCIS’

While discussing an episode of NCIS – the one that takes viewers on a journey into DiNozzo’s past as a Baltimore street cop – Weatherly mentioned a particular scene he shot with Mark Harmon over a dead body. 

TV Guide explains that Michael Weatherly ad-libbed a line during the scene – “Can a dead body get a sunburn?” – which inevitably led to one of Gibbs’ iconic deadpan expressions. When the director yelled cut, Michael Weatherly turned to Mark Harmon and stated:

“I love it when I say that and look up at you….Nobody does that slow burn like you.”

According to Michael Weatherly, a man who worked with Mark Harmon for over a decade, no one quite does the “slow burn” like the actor behind the legendary Leroy Jethro Gibbs. 

Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly go on to discuss the scene, and the show’s tendency to use flashbacks, as they did so quite frequently in the aforementioned episode. Harmon explains that flashbacks are “earned” material.

Mark Harmon talks flashbacks in ‘NCIS’

While using flashbacks can be deemed risky, as they often come off as a lazy way to bridge connections between people, time, and places, Mark Harmon argues that NCIS waited long enough to use them. He explained:

“By the time we started doing flashbacks, which was a number of years in, we’d earned it. Certainly as an actor you have more to grip on to. It’s interesting to hear Michael talk about how, when he played this guy in this episode, he learned he was earnest, traditional and calm in the heat of action — a lot like the guy who plays him. But those are choices he can make 11 years in that he couldn’t have made in Year 1. There’s still a ton of mystery to the characters, and still a lot of growth, too.”

While NCIS employs flashbacks, the show must be using the tactic well, for it remains one of the highest rated scripted shows on air. After sixteen seasons, you would think the show would start to die down; however, it’s already been renewed for season 17, and with Cote de Pablo back in the picture, the show may see a resurgence in viewership come September.