‘NCIS’: Rocky Carroll on What It’s Like Working with Mark Harmon…Again

Today, Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon are known for starring across from one another in NCIS. Carroll portrays NCIS Director Leon Vance, while Harmon portrays the show’s leading man and agent in charge, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Though NCIS marks one of the most celebrated shows starring both actors, they worked together in the past. 

Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon 'NCIS'
Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon of ‘NCIS’ | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Carroll and Harmon both starred in Chicago Hope, which ran from 1994 to 2000. And, as Carroll explained to HuffPost, he had “also done three different shows and three different series regular shows” for CBS before signing on to NCIS. Thus, Carroll was quite familiar with both the network and the procedural’s primary protagonist. Such circumstances made joining a pre-established show with pre-existing chemistry between its main castmembers a bit easier. 

Carroll went on to joke that “if you’re going to know one person when you’re the new kid on a show that’s been on the air for five years, it’s good that it’s the star of the show.” He then went on to discuss what it’s been like to work with Harmon again. 

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Rocky Carroll on working opposite Mark Harmon in ‘NCIS’

When asked “how nice” it has been to work with Harmon again, Carroll explained that he and his co-star have a “really good time” on the set. He shared: 

There’s such a tension between the characters.  They’re so mano a mano and at any time the wheels could come off in regards to them being civil to each other.  But if people really knew how much fun we had playing opposite each other, they wouldn’t take us seriously.  I think when you really get along and you really appreciate each other, it’s easy to get adversarial on screen.  There’s a level of trust there.  It’s great.  Mark is the ultimate collaborator.  He really is a quarterback…

Carroll | HuffPost 

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Carroll explained that Harmon is a collaborator at heart; Harmon trusts his co-stars and they trust him, which makes for strong on-screen chemistry. Carroll goes on to explain that Harmon is not a “competitor,” which is rare in an industry that often fuels competitive natures. 

Rocky Carroll on Mark Harmon’ group-effort mentality 

Carroll believes that NCIS has managed to succeed for so long because those in front of and behind the camera see each other as a team, rather than individuals vying for a spotlight. He said: 

He’s [Harmon] one of those people in my business that I really appreciate…what we do is a collaborative effort and it’s sometimes made out to be a competitive sport.  But it’s not.  When movies work or a TV series, when they really work, it’s because of the collaborative effort.  Competition is the death knell for anything, in my opinion.  Especially in Hollywood.  When actors are competing against each other, or when directors are competing against actors, it’s usually the beginning of the end.  And this show has survived for six seasons and it’s doing better because it has such a great collaborative effort. 

Carroll | HuffPost

Harmon is at the center of NCIS; meaning, his attitude toward the procedural and its inner workings likely spills over to the others involved. Thus, his collaborative nature becomes contagious, leading to a show that continues to work…season after season.