The cast of CBS’ NCIS features a former collegiate football star, a former Marine with a good conduct medal, and a member of the original producer’s family who also happens to hold dual citizenship. If you’ve never seen the show it would be nearly impossible to guess who’s who, but even for an avid fan such as myself, I was very surprised as to the cast’s backgrounds and their accolades.
If you’re new to the NCIS franchise but not new to CBS’ Tuesday night lineup, you may be aware that there are also shows titled NCIS: Los Angeles and the newest spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans. For the purposes of comparison, however, I will only be looking at the major characters from the original NCIS.
The major cast members include Mark Harmon as Leeroy Jethro Gibbs, the leader of the Major Crisis Response Team of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service based at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Gibbs is a former Marine sniper with an excellent track record, but he lost his wife and daughter to a Mexican drug cartel and Gibbs extracts his revenge by killing several members of the cartel. Michael Weatherly plays Anthony DiNozzo, the Senior Field Agent with a knack for quoting movies and chasing various women over the course of the series.
The team’s goth forensics expert Abby Sciuto is played by Pauley Perrette, and Sean Murray is NCIS’ computer whiz and goes under the name Timothy McGee. Abby and McGee have had a relationship in the past, but the two are still very close. McGee is also a writer under the pseudonym Thom E. Gemcity. Rounding out the team is the Medical Examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Ducky’s Scottish accent is made even more awesome by his love of telling stories of his experiences, even if they’re not exactly related to the case at hand.
The team investigates crimes around the world related to servicemen and women in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, but also deals in counterterrorism when America’s safety or freedom is in jeopardy.
Now that you’re up to speed on the characters, let’s take a look at some of their backgrounds. I mentioned earlier that we have a former Marine, a football star, and a dual citizen amongst the real-life qualities, but are you able to guess who’s who? I wasn’t immediately until I started researching, and as it turns out, the casts’ real lives don’t really mirror their characters much at all.
Mark Harmon, even though he plays a Marine, is the collegiate football star. He played at UCLA during his time as a Bruin, and he graduated cum laude in 1974 in Communications. Harmon is the uncle of Matt and Gunnar Nelson, of the band “Nelson”. The Marine in real live is the show’s former producer, Donald P. Bellisario. Bellisario was in the Corps from January 1955 thru January 1959, and achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal upon discharge and went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Penn State in 1961. Sean Murray holds dual citizenship between the United States of America and Australia. While Bellisario is no longer the show’s executive producer, he is still Sean’s stepfather (Sean’s mother Vivienne married Bellisario in 1988.)
Joseph Fiennes spoke about the struggle of getting into character, as well as the support he was able to get from his castmates. For Harmon and Murray and the rest of the cast, there is little mentioned in common between themselves and the characters they play on the most-watched show of 2012/2013.
While you aren’t required to analyze the characters and research them as I have done over the past couple of weeks, be sure to set aside some time on Tuesday evenings to catch NCIS from seven until eight on CBS, and check out Netflix if you want to catch up on all 12 seasons prior to this season.