NCIS EPs Talk Surprise Cameo, Why It Wasn’t Mark Harmon: ‘We’re Not Going to Bring Him Back for 2 Minutes’

NCIS EPs Talk Surprise Cameo, Why It Wasn’t Mark Harmon: ‘We’re Not Going to Bring Him Back for 2 Minutes’

The NCIS showrunners for a hot second thought about channeling Avengers: Endgame and having everybody show up for the funeral of Dr. Donald Mallard in this week’s Ducky/David McCallum tribute episode.

But when that proved wildly impractical and logistically improbable, they zeroed in on a singular cameo that was rich with history but also lightened up the very heavy hour.

Speaking with TVLine at a Jan. 19 event celebrating 1,000 total NCIS franchise episodes (in the video above), co-showrunner Steven D. Binder shared, “In a perfect world, what we first imagined was what the Marvel Cinematic Universe did when Tony Stark died…. Our original thought was, ‘Can we get everybody?’”

But having “everybody” of pertinence from NCIS‘ past quickly proved itself to be above and beyond the TV series’ non-MCU budget; additionally, actor availability and scheduling issues would have been insurmountable, the EPs explained.

Abandoning that Endgame notion, Binder said, “We gave a lot of thought to who Ducky is connected to most, which on one level would be Gibbs,” last played by exec producer Mark Harmon more than two years ago. “But it was Jimmy who was there, so it was [about] who Jimmy would connect with, and also bring some levity… and that was Michael Weatherly,” reprising his role as former team member Tony DiNozzo. “It’s really a no-brainer.”

Weatherly was very game for the cameo and slipped right back into the role as if nearly eight years hadn’t passed. “He’s DiNozzo again, there’s nothing rusty…,” notes co-showrunner North. “As soon as he walked into that autopsy room, I thought, ‘DiNozzo’s back.’”

But if you don’t bring Harmon back for an episode celebrating an esteemed fellow original cast member, when does he return?

“Of course the door is always open,” said Binder. But, the EP pointed out, “When we bring him back, we’re not going to bring him back for two minutes” a la Weatherly’s cameo. “It’s got to be something special.”

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Martinx Martinx

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