The Character ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Described as a ‘Change-of-Pace’

Today, Mark Harmon is best known for leading the hit, primetime global phenomenon NCIS. Harmon has now played Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs for 17 seasons, and he remains steadfast in his commitment to the crime procedural. While many actors have come and gone, Harmon is in it for the long haul, and he now serves as one of the show’s executive producers. Thus, he is a leader in front of and behind the camera. 

NCIS star Mark Harmon
NCIS star Mark Harmon | Frederick M. Brown / Stringer

Before NCIS, Mark Harmon had his time in the Hollywood spotlight. He was People Magazine’s second Sexiest Man Alive, and he starred in a few Hollywood blockbusters and TV movies across from legendary actors. From Liz Taylor and Sean Connery to Meg Ryan, Robert DuVall, and Jodie Foster, Harmon played on-screen with some favorites. He jumped around, often finding himself in romantic comedies and/or crime-oriented dramas (playing a cop, a detective, or something similar). Yet, one role was nothing like the others. 

During an interview with The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Mark Harmon discussed his career and dove into what it meant to portray serial killer Ted Bundy in The Deliberate Stranger. 

‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon talks about ‘The Deliberate Stranger’

The Deliberate Stranger was a 3 hour and 5 minute TV movie that depicted the life of infamous rapist and serial killer Theodore Robert Bundy. The thriller traced the man’s journey, drawing connections between his location and various murders. 

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon on Working With Liz Taylor

The film also works to depict Bundy’s charming nature; he was the man no one believed could take such horrendous and macabre actions. Thus, choosing a young Mark Harmon was a clever move, for he was a lady’s man with Hollywood good looks to boot. Talking about the movie, Mark Harmon explained the character in relation to his former roles, stating:

Playing Bundy is a real change-of-pace role. It also is a major career move. It’s an opportunity for me to grow as an actor. I have a lot to gain if it works, and a lot to lose if it doesn’t.

The Sun Sentinel

Mark Harmon on choosing to play Ted Bundy 

Mark Harmon goes on to explain that the movie paints a vivid picture and a straightforward narrative based on the evidence surrounding the case. He said: 

I don’t see how viewers can come away convinced he was innocent. There are about 50 open cases around the country that police think he is connected to.

The Sun Sentinel

RELATED: What ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Liked About Working With Sean Connery on ‘The Presidio’

When asked why he chose to take on the role — why he would choose to step into such a dark and twisted character willingly — he said: 

A couple of reasons…First, I wanted to work with (director) Marvin Chomsky. Also, I had never acted a heavy before and I liked the idea of playing all the emotional levels that Bundy experienced.

The Sun Sentinel

The role pushed Harmon out of his comfort zone, forcing him to tackle new territory, and forced the man to grow as an actor. When it comes down to it, Harmon couldn’t walk away from the depth of exploration needed to take on Bundy.