NCIS: Why did Mark Harmon join series – and the one thing that could have made him leave?

NCIS star Mark Harmon, who plays Agent Gibbs, recently revealed why he joined the CBS series. The actor also admitted the one thing that could have made him leave the project.

Mark Harmon is known and loved throughout the world for playing Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. NCIS, however, nearly did not have its leading man due to a tiny change in the script. The CBS series’ lead actor also revealed in a recent interview why he decided to agree to do NCIS in the first place.

Just before he joined the CBS series, Harmon was very close to giving up his work in TV and film.

In the two decades prior to NCIS, the actor has starred in successful projects like Chicago Hope, Freaky Friday and The West Wing.

He had also started to become a director for TV, helming episodes of Chicago Hope and Boston Public.

However, according to an interview with Parade magazine, he was missing something in his life.

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Mark Harmon almost did not star in NCIS (Image: CBS)

He told them: “I work hard. It’s where I come from.

“I was directing a lot, I was doing a movie here or there and we had this young family that was growing up.

“I was missing a lot of [family time, which was] just was not OK.”

As he was starting to stop working as hard, however, the role of a lifetime came up.

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Mark Harmon has appeared on NCIS since 2003 (Image: CBS)

He said: “And then I read this script called NCIS.”

Despite wanting to spend more time with his family, he told the magazine that he loved the character so much that he had to take the project.

However, there was then a moment where he nearly decided not to do it.

The character was originally called Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and it was this name that Harmon fell in love with.

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Mark Harmon appeared on Chicago Hope before joining the cast of NCIS (Image: CBS)

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Gibbs almost had a different name of NCIS (Image: CBS)

So when a later draft changed the name of the character, the actor had second thoughts.

He told Parade: “For a moment, when I started getting interested in doing it, the name changed to Bob Nelson or something.

“I just said, ‘Eh…please, can you put the name back?’”

Luckily for NCIS fans, however, they accepted his request and Mark Harmon has played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs for nearly 400 episodes.