Gary Cole Confesses He’s ‘Still Constantly Lost’ Three Years After Joining ‘NCIS’

Despite joining NCIS as FBI Special Agent Alden Parker nearly three years ago, Gary Cole admits he’s still finding his footing.

Cole, 67, took over the lead role on the long-running drama from Mark Harmon during season 19 in September 2021. The veteran actor acknowledges he’s still struggling with direction—quite literally.

“I’m constantly lost still,” Cole exclusively told Us Weekly. He joked, “There are people who’ve been here 20 years that make a wrong turn, and we end up looking for them.”

Cole further explained that he sometimes still has questions about the storylines on the show, which ran for nearly two decades before he joined.

“I’m always asking, ‘What happened here?'” Cole said. “Old episodes always come up. Not necessarily for research, but just to understand what happened before. You get a sense of what the stories were and what was going on.”

When Cole effectively replaced Harmon as the lead on NCIS, he credited the writers with making his job “pretty easy.”

“I thought the writers really solved a lot of issues,” he said. “They didn’t turn it into a situation where you hear a knock on the door, and it’s like, ‘Hi, I’m the new guy.'”

Cole and Harmon, 72, appeared in three episodes together before Harmon officially left the show during the fourth episode of season 19. In total, Harmon appeared in over 435 episodes of NCIS during his 18-year run.

To help him acclimate, Cole also credited the show’s ensemble cast with creating an invigorating creative environment.

“I enjoy when there’s a lot of us in a scene,” Cole said. “We’ve become pretty good at doing a scene with five or six people. Everybody knows their choreography. It’s really like a dance. That’s been fun to develop with this group.”

The sentiment was echoed by co-star Katrina Law, who plays Jessica Knight on NCIS. Law gushed to Us Weekly, “I think Gary Cole is one of the best humans and best actors on this planet.”