“No, It’s Gotta Be”: NCIS’ Mark Harmon Recalls His 1 Request Before Accepting Gibbs Role

NCIS star Mark Harmon reflects on the one request he had before joining the CBS series, recalling how he had to insist on making a change.

NCIS star Mark Harmon reflects on the one request he had before joining the CBS show. Portraying the role of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Harmon has become one of the most recognizable actors when it comes to long-running procedurals. Harmon remained with the original NCIS for 19 seasons, with his main character remaining a big player amid numerous cast changes. Even after Harmon’s 2021 exit from NCIS, Gibbs’ presence is still felt.

But in an interview with Entertainment Tonight to promote his new book, Ghosts of Honolulu, Harmon reveals that his character’s name was nearly a dealbreaker. Harmon says that he didn’t like NCIS at first, but he was intrigued by the name of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. That almost became a problem when, according to Harmon, Gibbs’ name was briefly changed to something far more common. Read the full quote below:

“I didn’t expect to like the script as much as I did when I first read it. I was reading other things and I was also trying to stay home – young family and I wanted to try and be home more. I read ‘Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ and thought, ‘Huh, I like that name, and then for a brief second when I decided that I liked the idea of the project, the name changed.”

“Bob Johnson or something like that. And I went, ’No, no, it’s gotta be Leroy Jethro Gibbs.’ The creator said, ’No, you can’t play a guy named Leroy Jethro Gibbs,’ and I said, ‘Why not?’ And then it went back and I was happy about it.”


Will Mark Harmon Ever Return to NCIS?

NCIS has done well to fill the void left by Harmon’s absence, welcoming veteran actor Gary Cole in the role of Alden Parker. However, Gibbs’ potential return lingers all the same. Despite his exit from the show, Harmon has cautioned that his character is not “retired.” Those sentiments were boosted by executive producer Steven Binder, who has indicated that Gibbs won’t be gone for good.

Unlike other dramas in which characters get a grand sendoff (perhaps returning only for the series finale), the ongoing nature of NCIS means that familiar faces can pop in for a few episodes at a time. Before giving his farewell, Gibbs decides to stay in Alaska instead of returning to Washington D.C. and continuing his career with NCIS. It’s an emotional goodbye, with Gibbs saying that he’s found a sense of peace.

Harmon has addressed the reason for leaving NCIS. He explains that, like his character, he’s getting older. He’s also mentioned that Gibbs’ exit storyline makes sense. But reading between the lines of everything that’s been said, it could be only a matter of time before Harmon at least makes a small cameo.


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