BY MELISSA SHERRARD/FEB. 27, 2021
If you’ve been following the investigations and antics of the core investigative team on the hit CBS show NCIS since it began airing in 2003, you know short cameos played by famous faces are kind of a thing to watch out for. Several family members of the cast and crew have played bit characters on NCIS, and as Insider points out, more than 50 celebrities have made an appearance on the procedural crime drama for at least one episode, and in some cases several.
However, if you thought the appearances made by Michelle Obama, Jamie Lee Curtis, Taye Diggs, Sean Astin (Rudy!), and other celebrities were big deals, you might be overlooking an NCIS season 5 cameo that means more than you think. Here’s a hint: The person who makes the short cameo has the real-world experience to advise actor Mark Harmon on the responsibilities held by his character, Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Real-life NCIS agents have appeared on the show
The show’s dedication to realism is just one of the reasons fans love it so much. For information about the types of crimes the unit solves (they’re not real cases, as real as they may seem) to how the team cracks cases (often with the help of state-of-the-art forensic procedures), NCIS often consults with real-life special agents from the real Naval Criminal Investigative Service based in Quantico, Virginia. These consultants help the writing team make sure everything stays within the realm of possibility, according to the USO.
With such a solid working relationship, the creators like to highlight the partnership by including some of the consultants on the show from time to time. For instance, in the NCIS season 5 episode “Identity Crisis,” the NCIS director at the time, Thomas Betro, was featured walking down the hall of the fictional NCIS headquarters. As Screen Rant notes, Betro catches Gibbs’ eye and they exchange “finger guns” in a playful moment. IMDb notes he was an uncredited character referred to as “Coffee Man.”
More than one real-life advisor has appeared on NCIS
However, Betro’s cameo in season 5 of NCIS wasn’t the first time a real-life agent who was serving as an advisor also got to appear on the show. In fact, the Tribune-Star tells us that Betro’s predecessor, Dave Brant, who was the NCIS Director from 1997-2005, made an appearance on the show, as well.
IMDb notes that in season 3’s episode “Frame Up,” Brant plays NCIS Special Agent David Brant. In addition to some real-life crime solving techniques, Brant’s inclusion also provided a nice nod to his upcoming real-life retirement. In the episode, Gibbs says, “I heard you were quitting,” and Brant’s character answers, “I like to refer to it as a lateral move into the recreational sector, Jethro.”
So, the next time you see these two former directors of the real NCIS in their respective cameos in seasons 3 and 5, you’ll be in the know as to why their appearances mean more than the average viewer might think.
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