What ‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Wishes He Realized Earlier in His Career

Mark Harmon has starred on NCIS since the Jag spin-off first premiered to mediocre ratings back in 2003. While the show’s ratings weren’t poor enough to face cancellation, they were nowhere near the unrivaled level they remain today. As the most-watched scripted series on TV, NCIS is arguably one of the most successful shows of the last decade. And this is, in no small part, due to the man behind Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

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

While Mark Harmon often hesitates to take responsibility for the show’s success – directing attention to the writers instead – many people tune in just to watch the silver fox play Agent Gibbs on Tuesday nights. While many co-stars have exited the series to spread their wings, Harmon remains committed to and thankful for his role on the CBS procedural.

Mark Harmon is the face of NCIS. As an executive producer on the series, he plays a pivotal role both on camera and behind the scenes; however, the actor, who seemingly has it all together, does wish he realized one thing earlier in his career: a fact of life that may have made things just a little bit easier.

‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon talks being a “jock” and the faulty perspective it left him with

As many fans of Mark Harmon already know, the star of NCIS was a successful college football player before becoming an actor. As a result, he came to develop a specific mindset that did not benefit him much as a performer.

During an interview with Men’s Journal, Harmon was asked, “What do you wish you knew earlier in your career?” Harmon stated:

“I was a jock, so I came from a place where all you were trying to do was play the game and play it well—most of that is about not letting people know what you’re thinking or doing. In the beginning of this chase, you try very hard to control everything. As an actor, you control none of it. That’s sometimes important—stepping away from it and not putting so much focus on it. Sometimes [that is] a better tactic than trying to throw the ball through the tire more times than the next guy.”

Men’s Journal

As an actor, you simply cannot control everything. If you put too much focus into becoming a character, your performance will appear insincere; you have to let it take you by storm. A little less focus, a little more heart, and a little more trust may, sometimes, get you a bit further than unbridled determination.

Based on Mark Harmon’s performance in NCIS – one that fans can’t seem to stop talking about – it appears that he has learned this lesson well. At least well enough to portray Agent Gibbs with conviction.

Will Mark Harmon ever quit ‘NCIS?’

If Mark Harmon quit NCIS, the show would likely fail to continue on. Unlike losing other main castmembers, Harmon feels a bit more indispensable. However, you shouldn’t have to worry about Harmon’s departure anytime soon.

Harmon has explained that he would only leave the show if the writers began drawing blanks, and the scripts felt uninspired. So, as long as the writers keep throwing curveballs and extending characters, Mark Harmon will continue showing up to set, ready to play Agent Gibbs.