This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s Gibbs Forever Special Collector’s Edition, which is now available to order online at NCISMag.com and on newsstands across the country.
We did some digging of our own to learn more about life on set for Mark Harmon (who played Leroy Jethro Gibbs until his on-screen exit from NCIS in Season 19 Episode 4) and the rest of our favorite cast members.
Scroll down for behind-the-scenes photos, as well as insight into a few of the episodes and filming.
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Harmon (on set in 2011) always gives his all on the job. “I worked hard at everything I did as an athlete, a student, and an actor,” he says. “I enjoy going to work. “I am a firm believer in putting in the effort.”
In Season 17, Gibbs meets a new neighbor, Sarah (Louise Barnes), and bonds with her 9-year-old son (Jack Fisher). “It was a lot of fun,” Harmon recalls. “I’ve always thought Gibbs has a childish side to him.” (It’s too bad Sarah is also a covert t3rr0rist.)
“Abby is the only one who can say to him, ‘Gibbs, you’re being crabby,'” Pauley Perrette, who played the lab rat from 2003 to 2018, says. “No one else would be permitted.” She and Harmon are filming Season 9’s “Restless” here.
A sweet way to celebrate 150 episodes! From left, in 2009: Rocky Carroll, David McCallum, Cote de Pablo, Harmon, Sean Murray, Perrette, Michael Weatherly and sometime guest star Robert Wagner.
In the Season 9 premiere, “Nature of the Beast,” Gibbs takes action in front of a hotel. (From left to right, Matt Craven and Bryan Friday.) Harmon based some of the character’s traits on real-life NCIS agent Richard Warmack.
Harmon and Emily Wickersham, who played NCIS Special Agent Ellie Bishop from 2013 to 2021, consult on “In a Nutshell” in Season 17. Gibbs was so concerned about Bishop that he broke one of his most important rules for her!
A typical day in the production of an episode (here, Season 9’s “Rekindled”)? “When you open the stage door, there’s a train going a thousand miles an hour,” Harmon explains. “All you have to do is grab on.
Junior Special Agent Tim McGee is by Gibbs’ side in Season 8’s “A Man Walks Into a Bar…”, and nearly 11 years later, he’s the seasoned special agent by Gibbs’ side when he announces his retirement to Alaska.
Christopher Lloyd’s moving performance as a Pearl Harbor survivor in Season 17’s “The Arizona”—a role written specifically for the Emmy winner—prompts some startlingly personal admissions from Gibbs. “Sometimes hearing about someone else’s experience makes it OK for that person to address their feelings,” Harmon says. “When Gibbs gets to the truth, he doesn’t give up.”
According to Harmon, Gibbs sees the majority of things “through the crosshairs of a scope.” For real: In Season 18’s “Head of the Snake,” the expert sniper shot McGee in the leg to keep him from approaching an expl0d1ng plane.
It’s difficult to look at Harmon or Wagner, who played Anthony DiNozzo Sr. in Season 9’s “Sins of the Father” for 13 episodes, against those orange Bullpen walls! The series’ 400th episode, airing in 2020, depicts their origins—and the role they played in a cr1me—decades earlier, when Gibbs met McCallum’s Donald “Ducky” Mallard.
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