The Hollywood A-Lister Who Almost Played Agent Gibbs in ‘NCIS’

Mark Harmon has portrayed Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS since the show’s early days as a mere Jag spinoff. He has gone on to gain critical acclaim and worldwide recognition for his role in the show (and work behind the scenes as an executive producer). Mark Harmon has become the face of the NCIS franchise, and its various spinoffs that have followed suit.

Agent Gibbs of NCIS Mark Harmon
Agent Gibbs of NCIS Actor Mark Harmon | Mccandless/CBS via Getty Images

Imagining anyone else playing Gibbs is quite difficult, as the actor and the character have grown intimately connected. The two are fused in fans’ minds as if they were one. Yet, Mark Harmon was not the only actor pegged to take on the role. The man behind The Presidio and Sweet Bird of Youth almost had some fierce competition, but the A-lister chose to walk away from the small-screen gig. So, who almost played the famous Agent Gibbs — the man millions tune in to watch take down the baddies each week?

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‘NCIS’ showrunners reportedly wanted Harrison Ford for Gibbs  

Harrison Ford — the man famous for Indiana Jones and Star Wars — was on the studio’s radar when it came to casting NCIS’s leading man. Collider notes that the actor was at the top of the list. So, what exactly happened? Why did Mark Harmon wind up in the captain’s chair if Harrison Ford was a top pick?

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When NCIS came onto the scene, TV was still seen as secondary to the cinema. Today, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and multiple other streaming outlets have worked to change TV’s image and reputation. TV shows are now (more than ever) responsible for creating narratives and complex characters that draw actors away from big-budget blockbusters to smaller, more niche projects. Yet, over 15 years ago, it was still seen as a step-down, as opposed to a step across (some people still hold this belief). 

Harrison Ford’s career needed a pick-me-up back when ‘NCIS’ was on the table

Harrison Ford’s career, back when NCIS was on the horizon, was moving a bit slow. The actor was struggling a bit to land the leading roles like he used to, and his agents reportedly thought it would be a good idea for him to accept such a steady, primetime gig. 

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From the consistent schedule to the continued public presence, leading a TV show could have been the boost Ford needed, yet he never signed the dotted line. It’s likely that Ford wanted to continue on with movies, as the actor is not exactly known for starring in TV shows. 

Harrison Ford likely made the right move, for his career has since blossomed once more. He recently appeared as the leading man in The Call of the Wild, based on Jack London’s novel of the same name. He also voiced Rooster in 2017’s The Secret Life of Pets 2, and he appeared as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049. Ford is also set to star in an untitled Indiana Jones project with an expected release date sometime in 2022. 

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