Before ‘NCIS’: The Famous Actor Who Introduced Mark Harmon to Sean Murray

Mark Harmon and Sean Murray have a history that dates back to the early 1990s, when they first met while Murray was a burgeoning 15-year-old actor. Their initial encounter occurred on the set of the CBS contemporary Western “Harts of the West,” where Murray was working alongside Lloyd Bridges and Beau Bridges, as reported by Country Living in 2019. Originally, Jeff Bridges was slated to star in one episode, but due to a scheduling conflict, Harmon stepped in.

Murray vividly remembers Harmon’s impact during that time. “They got Harmon to come and do the part instead… which I’ll never forget,” Murray recalled. He shared that although their interaction during the episode was brief, it was memorable enough for Harmon to remember him years later when Murray joined “NCIS.” Speaking on CBS’ “The Talk” in 2017, Murray revealed, “He remembered me after all those years.”

Their professional paths converged again a decade later. By then, Murray viewed Harmon not only as a colleague but as a mentor and a key influence. “He’s a mentor and one of my best friends. One of the best work partners I’ve ever had,” Murray told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2021. He also credited Harmon with shaping “NCIS” into the hit series it became, describing him as the “quarterback” of the team.

Cote de Pablo, another “NCIS” alum, echoed Murray’s sentiments. In her 2019 appearance on the BUILD Series, she spoke of Harmon as a mentor and a father figure, a dynamic that extended off-screen as well. De Pablo, who had two tenures on “NCIS,” appreciated the enduring nature of their relationship, emphasizing that their connection, “forged in fire,” remained strong despite periods of absence.

Harmon, who started as a producer in Season 6 before being promoted to executive producer, modestly attributes the show’s success to the collective effort of the cast. This was highlighted during an event with Extra in 2011, where host Mario Lopez lauded him as “the quarterback of the show.” Harmon deflected, emphasizing the team’s contribution. However, de Pablo interjected, acknowledging Harmon’s humility and significant behind-the-scenes contributions, adding, “He does a lot for this show that he will never actually say he does, but we all know that he does a lot, and we love him for it.”

This rich history and mutual respect among the cast members, spearheaded by Harmon’s leadership, have undeniably played a critical role in the enduring success of “NCIS.”