‘NCIS’: The Moment That Proved Mark Harmon Was Perfect for the Role

Mark Harmon is so engraved in our minds as Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, that it seems strange to think there was a possibility that another actor could have played the character.

He’s been with the show from the beginning, all 16 seasons with another coming this fall. Harmon embodies the role so perfectly that it almost seems the character of Agent Gibbs was written with him in mind. However, that’s not exactly how it happened.

‘NCIS’ creator thought Mark Harmon was a ‘pretty boy’

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon | Erik Voake/CBS via Getty Images

According to the Entertainment, when NCIS creator, Don Bellisario, first saw Harmon the words that came to his mind were, Pretty Boy. He had trouble imagining the handsome actor could ever be the tough-as-nails, Navy elite, crime investigator, Agent Gibbs. The role was actually offered to Don Johnson first, but he turned it down.

Bellisario’s opinion of Harmon changed after he saw him play Agent Simon Donovan on The West Wing.

“What I saw was a very controlled presence, a quiet strength,” Bellisario told Entertainment. “That’s what I was looking for.” We’re glad he changed his mind. Harmon has played a central character in the show since its beginning in 2003, and Agent Gibbs is a favorite character among fans of the show.

Don Bellisario’s fallout with ‘NCIS’

Bellisario hasn’t stuck with the show for its entire run. In 2007, the show’s creator was forced out by Harmon, because of disagreements over Bellisario’s “chaotic management style.” Because of the feud, CBS knew they wouldn’t be able to keep them both, and they decided they could live without Bellisario, but they needed Harmon.

Bellisario agreed to step down and was still able to keep his executive producer title, but he is no longer in charge of the show. After the fall out, Harmon became the most powerful person on the show.

Mark Harmon’s son also plays the role of Agent Gibbs

Harmon’s son, 31 year old, Sean Harmon, also sometimes plays the role of Agent Gibbs on NCIS. Handsome like his father, Sean appears when the scene calls for a younger version of the character.

He has acted in several NCIS episodes, and although he prefers to keep his life private and outside the public eye, just like his father, Sean is pursuing a career in acting. He has played minor roles in several films.

What else has Mark Harmon been in?

According to IMDb, Mark Harmon has been nominated for four Golden Globes. As well as playing Agent Gibbs, Harmon has also played (just to name a few) the character of Dale in The Weather Girl, Ryan in Freaky Friday, President James Foster in Chasing Liberty, and of course, Agent Simon Donovan in The West Wing. Harmon’s first big role was that of Dr. Bobby Caldwell in NBC’s show, St. Elsewhere, back in the early 80s.

‘NCIS’ will continue for Season 17

It’s been confirmed that NCIS will be returning for season 17 this fall. Although there was some questioning if Harmon would retire or return for season 17, he has just renewed his agreement with show producers to continue on the show. Spinoff shows, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: New Orleans are also expected to return for the 2019-2020 broadcast season.

The decision to renew the show was an easy one, considering season 16 averaged 16 million viewers per episode. Those numbers place NCIS as the second most watched show on television, only behind The Big Bang Theory.

Fans of the show are ecstatic that Harmon and the rest of the crew will return for more thrilling adventures in the coming year.