For 10 seasons, the cast of NCIS has kept us riveted with their thought-provoking storylines, their loyalty to each other, and their exceptional acting chops. The head slap is not only a well-known commercial, but a symbol of tough love that most households recognize. The movie quotes that accompany a well- timed body find are classics. And even I, have wanted a Caf-Pow from time to time. The actors responsible for these connections come into our living room every Tuesday night and give us an hour to get lost in a military who-dunnit. None of these actors can say NCIS was their first go around though. So what was? What was the very first acting job for each of them?
As Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Mark Harmon is irreplaceable. He’s handsome, intelligent and quiet. He didn’t start out acting though. His father was football legend, Tom Harmon. Mark spent a good portion of his childhood concentrating on that. Even though his Mother was an actress, it wasn’t until he was 22 that he actually pursued her half of the equation. In a strange turn of events, this would come about through his sister’s marriage. Kristen married singing sensation Ricky Nelson. Ricky’s Father, Ozzie, offered Mark a walk on role in the syndicated series Ozzie’s Girls. From there, it was clear what Mark was going to do with his life. Parts in Emergency and Adam 12 followed shortly thereafter.
Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo has a quick wit and generally proves he’s smarter than most give him credit for. Michael Weatherly always showed a passion for creativity. So it’s really no surprise that this passion landed him on one of the most memorable shows of the 1980’s. His first paying part was on The Cosby Show as Theo Huxtables roommate in 1984. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until 2001 that he would get another shot at Hollywood stardom. This time it would be in an Independent movie called Trigger Happy starring alongside, Rosario Dawson. This was the point at which things cascaded and a steady acting stream would occur.
Rocky Carroll, Director Leon Vance, was an actor from the start. He was classically trained at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a solid foundation in theatre and his first professional job was that of various roles with a Shakespearean Group. But for television, his first opportunity was a Television movie called; Money, Power, Murder. This would be followed by a role in the Tom Cruise driven, Born of The Fourth of July.
Ziva David takes no prisoners, unless she can torture what she wants from them. Her portrayer, Cote De Pablo keeps us glued to our seats through talent instead of violence. She, like Rocky, also started out in theatre. A native of Santiago, Chile and transplanted to Miami, she was perfect for a television show aimed at Latin and Spanish speaking adolescents. So in 1994, a high-school aged Cote landed a gig hosting Control on the Univision network. She went on to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University with a diverse background of plays and musical theatre. In 2001 she would return to television in a brief series called The Street.
Pauley Perette, Abigail “Abby” Scuito, is the odd woman out in this cast. Rather than training to be an actor in a series, she was trained to be in this series with actors. Her education wasn’t in acting. That’s why it’s no surprise that her first television role came in the form of an afterschool special for ABC at the age of 25. Once in the business, it was a steady stream of work from then on.
Special Agent Timothy McGee is the perfect mix of geek and metal. It’s a little strange to find out that Sean Murray, spent most of his life with the cool job. He was a child actor. At 14 he got a bit part in the television movie, Backfield in Motion. This was followed by a role on the series Civil Wars. Consistent and level headed, he’s one of few to make the transition without the image of handcuffs coming to mind. That is at least, until his role on NCIS.
Sometimes it’s best to save the most experienced for last. This is the case with David McCallum, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Born in Scotland, he was raised in The United Kingdom. Long after he finished school at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts, we come to his very first paying part. At the age of 24 he landed not one, but five paying parts in shows as varied as: Night Ambush, The Secret Place, and Hell Drivers. As it happens, both Ducky and his portrayer leave no stone unturned when they put their minds to their work.
This cast proves, week after week, that blood is not the thickest substance: Loyalty is. Maybe that’s what we love about them. There is something about knowing someone has your back when it counts. Watching these varying personalities pull each other through, reminds us what people are capable of. That somewhere, somehow there is a person willing to go the distance for others. Tune in to CBS tonight at 8/7c for the Season Finale!
If you’d like to learn more about this show you can visit Allyson Koerner’s interview with Muse Watson, Mike Franks, here.
If you want to get caught up on past episodes you can do so here.