‘NCIS:’ Sean Murray Met Mark Harmon Because of Jeff Bridges

Mark Harmon and Sean Murray have now starred together on NCIS for nearly two decades. As the most-watched show on television continues soaring to unforeseen major network heights, NCIS seems destined to one day surpass shows like Knotts Landing, Dallas, and ER.

Mark Harmon and Sean Murray
Mark Harmon and Sean Murray | Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

While many former cast members have since departed – citing various reasons for exiting the series – including Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo, and Pauley Perrette, Murray and Harmon seem committed to the show for the long haul. When rumors began surfacing that Murray was exiting the series following season 16, he even spoke up to deny them.

A great duo on NCIS – boasting a fortified relationship built over sixteen seasons – the two retain convincing on-screen chemistry. Their relationship is one infused with respect and admiration, especially coming from McGee. While their dynamic may not be as humorous as DiNozzo’s former bond with the man in charge, or as endearing as the father-daughter relationship once witnessed between Ziva and Gibbs, it still makes for an essential addition to the show’s overarching narrative arc.

Sean Murray and Mark Harmon, though recognized for their on-screen relationship in NCIS, appeared on TV together much earlier in life. Sean Murray actually met Mark Harmon via a casting incident involving Jeff Bridges. So, what happened?

Sean Murray, Mark Harmon, and Jeff Bridges: A ‘Harts of the West’ incident

When Sean Murray was just fifteen years old, he starred on a TV series called Harts of the West, which was an American Western/Comedy set on a dude ranch in Nevada. The series only aired on CBS for one year (1993-1994) and centered on Dave Hart (Beau Bridges) and Jake Terrel (Lloyd Bridges).

The story: when Dave sustains a heart attack, he quits his job and heads to the ranch where Terrel works, hoping to revive the now-defunct Tumbleweed Dude Ranch. According to Country Living, Sean Murray explained that Jeff Bridges was supposed to appear in an episode of the 90s western; however, due to a scheduling conflict, was unable to guest star on the show.

Sean Murray explains that he got the chance to work with Mark Harmon on the show, who came in to replace Jeff Bridges as a “drunken radio clown.” Murray stated, “That’s where I first met Harmon. And he made an impression on me even back then.” Explaining Mark Harmon’s acting prowess, Murray goes on to state, “He’s a real actor. He goes for the realness of it, the truth of it, you know. That’s what we all strive to do as actors. Boy, is he good at it.”

From a drunken clown to the serious and determined Special Agent Gibbs, it’s clear that Harmon has no problem getting into character, no matter how vastly disparate the roles he takes on are.

Sean Murray’s future on ‘NCIS’ and beyond

Based on the most recent confirmations, Sean Murray should be on NCIS for season seventeen, and likely for a few seasons beyond. So, as long as the writers keep penning dialogue for Agent McGee, Murray plans to continue showing up for work.

Outside of NCIS, Murray has not done much else since picking up the show. Though starring in several TV shows and movies throughout the 1990s, the actor seems content playing McGee and operating within the NCIS franchise at this time.

Let’s hope that the man we know and love as McGee makes his way into other TV shows or movies, as fans would love to see him take on new characters with different narratives and personalities.