In the world of television, few characters become as iconic as the actors who portray them. For Mark Harmon, his nearly two-decade-long portrayal of Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the hit series 'NCIS' is a testament to this phenomenon. But what many may not know is the intriguing reason behind Harmon's decision to take on this role, a decision that would define a significant part of his acting career.

Harmon, now 72, recalls the moment he came across the script for 'NCIS.' Amidst a sea of scripts and potential roles, it was the unique name of the character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, that caught his attention. This name, as Harmon puts it, was the deciding factor. He was so drawn to it that when there was a brief moment where the character's name was changed to Bob Robinson, Harmon immediately called up to insist on reverting to the original name. "If that name had not been there, I don't think I would have been there," he admitted.

This seemingly small detail highlights the often-understated importance of character names in storytelling and acting. For Harmon, the name Leroy Jethro Gibbs was more than just a label for a character; it was an identity that he felt compelled to bring to life. His connection to the name was so strong that it influenced his decision to join a show that would later become a significant part of television history.

Beyond the name, Harmon was intrigued by the premise of the show, which revolved around the Naval Criminal Investigative Services—a concept he found unique and relatively unheard of at the time. This novelty, combined with the character's compelling name, set the stage for Harmon's long-term commitment to the role.

During his tenure on 'NCIS,' which spanned from 2003 to 2021, Harmon not only became synonymous with Gibbs but also formed deep connections with his co-stars. The camaraderie among the cast was one of the reasons he stayed with the show for so long. Harmon's portrayal of Gibbs was not just about solving cases; it was about bringing a character to life that resonated with millions of viewers worldwide.

The actor's departure from the show did not come as a shock to many, including the executive producers. Harmon, approaching 70, wanted to spend more time with his family. His commitment to the show and its crew was evident, as he stayed on longer than he initially intended, driven by loyalty and a sense of pride in the work they were doing.

Mark Harmon's journey with 'NCIS' and his portrayal of Leroy Jethro Gibbs is a fascinating story of how a single detail, like a character's name, can influence an actor's career path. It's a reminder of the intricate layers that go into creating and portraying a character on screen, and how these layers can resonate with both the actor and the audience, creating a legacy that lasts well beyond the final episode.