Mark Harmon is speaking out for the first time about his departure from NCIS last fall. The actor, who has played NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs since 2003, left the long-running CBS procedural early in the most recent 19th season but has largely remained silent about his decision until now.
Harmon discusses Gibbs’ farewell in a new sit-down centred on the character’s legacy.
“What has always drawn me here is the character I play and keeping it fresh and challenging,” the 70-year-old actor said in the clip, before hinting that it was time to close this chapter in his career – for the time being. “This character has chosen the path that it has. I thought it was honest and acceptable.”
Harmon then assured NCIS fans that Gibbs is still alive and well, enjoying the simple pleasures of life: “I’m not done working… As far as I know, the character resides in Alaska.”
In Harmon’s final episode, Gibbs informed McGee, while out fishing on an Alaskan lake, that he would not be returning to work, admitting that he was “not sure” how long he’d be gone.
“My gut says I’ll know when I find it,” Gibbs said of what he’s looking for. “I haven’t felt this at peace since Shannon and Kelly died, and I’m not ready to let it go.” He then handed over the unofficial reins of the NCIS office to his protégé.
Following Mark Harmon’s final NCIS appearance, executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder issued a statement, leaving the door open for a possible return in the future.
“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark remains an essential part of the show’s fabric.”