‘NCIS:’ Why Mark Harmon Would Have Been a Carpenter If He Wasn’t an Actor

Mark Harmon is widely known for portraying Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the CBS his procedural NCIS. Serving as the show’s lead actor and executive producer, – he and his co-stars – boast one of the most loyal and widespread fanbases, spanning the globe and appealing to various demographics.

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon | Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

While NCIS is the most watched scripted show on TV, Mark Harmon starred in several other shows and blockbusters before making his way to NCIS – the show that he never takes for granted, for it permits him to maintain a healthy personal life, while remaining dedicated to his work.

Before playing Gibbs on NCIS, Mark Harmon starred in St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, Flamingo Road, The Presidio, Summer School, and more. With a few hits (and a few flops), the actor became an 80s heartthrob. However, though fans of the actor can never imagine him existing in a world outside showbiz, the actor admitted that he would have been a carpenter if he didn’t become an actor.

Given Pauley Perrette’s recent claims, Harmon – a man who often revels in his privacy – is currently at the center of gossip news. If he is to blame, then he deserves all the backlash he may receive. However, if Pauley Perrette’s alleged claims are false – as many fans believe them to be – he may be wishing he went for carpentry right about now.

Why ‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon was almost a carpenter

During an interview with Men’s Journal, Mark Harmon discussed his role on NCIS, what he has learned over the course of his career, and the path he would have followed had the acting thing never come to fruition. Harmon was asked, “If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?” He replied:

“I’d] be a carpenter. I tried to do that, but I just couldn’t get hired. I enjoyed getting up and doing that in the morning; I enjoyed the drive to work. For me it was about materials and doing right. If you did it right, [the project] outlasted you. I still enjoy [carpentry], but I think that’s probably what I would have been trying to do had I not been [acting]. I took a job in an ad firm and worked there for about four years. I got a promotion to another ad-based job—a national sales rep position at a shoe company—so I was kind of a shoe salesman for about seven months.”

Men’s Journal

Mark Harmon enjoyed the routine. He enjoyed working with his hands. Based on what the actor has said about his role on NCIS, it should come as no surprise that the man behind Gibbs favored a career path that was consistent and fulfilling.

Just like seeing an episode come to life after envisioning it, carpenters see their ideas come to life post-creation, yet the joy is in the journey.

When Mark Harmon realized it was “acting or nothing”

During his interview with Men’s Journal, Mark Harmon dove headfirst into discussing the salesman job mentioned above. And, that very job was likely an early catalyst to his acting career. Harmon stated:

“When I was doing that shoe salesman job. I was coming back from Boston and I was sitting next to a 33-year-old who was talking about trying to make pension at 65. He was drinking his second martini by the time we were wheels up. He was miserable in his job and he was trying to maintain the job for another [32] years. I went home, got in my car, drove out to the place where I worked, and gave my notice.”

Men’s Journal

Mark Harmon likely couldn’t imagine the monotony minus the creativity. While some people love sales, listening and watching that older man respond to his professional life convinced Harmon he needed to get out and get out quick.