Mark Harmon Opens Up About NCIS Exit: “It Was Time”

Mark Harmon is promoting his new book, “Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese spy, a Japanese American spy hunter, and the untold story of Pearl Harbor,” which he co-wrote with real-life NCIS Special Agent Leon Carroll Jr.

They met while working on the long-running CBS crime drama NCIS, where Harmon starred as SSA Leroy Jethro Gibbs from 2003 to 2021. He discussed his NCIS experience on The Kelly Clarkson Show on November 28th.

Host Kelly Clarkson asked the 72-year-old actor about leaving the show after nearly two decades as the lead and eventual executive producer.


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“I think for the longest time, I was just tired,” he confessed, adding that the show’s initial seasons involved long hours. “Part of taking the job [involved] being home with a young family, not traveling so much. The first day, we worked 22 hours. So I thought, ‘That’s not exactly what I thought this was going to be.'”

Mark added, however, that the joy came in staying alert, keeping up with the changing cast, and building relationships.

“That it’s been the success it’s become, that’s great. To be a part of that, that’s great. Writers change, showrunners change, casts change, all that. And I always tried to pay attention to that, daily. I did what my title said: I read ahead, took notes, and stayed ahead of things. It’s a lot of work, but I paid attention to the writing room. That was successful, I’m proud of it. The people I met through it, I’m proud of that in a different way.”

Mark has been happily married to actress Pam Dawber since 1987, and together they have raised two adult sons, Sean, aged 35, and Ty Christian, aged 31. In a recent interview, he expressed his gratitude, feeling fortunate to have ample time with his wife and sons, who prefer to maintain a low public profile.

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