The beloved medical examiner Ducky, portrayed by David McCallum, played an indispensable role in the success of NCIS. However, the show’s behind-the-scenes history reveals that another notable actor was initially considered for the iconic role.

Recently, fans mourned the passing of Donald “Ducky” Mallard, who passed away just six days after celebrating his 90th birthday last month. McCallum, a stalwart on NCIS since the first episode, served as the team’s principal medical examiner until his retirement in March 2019. Despite stepping back, he continued as a part-time historian, making occasional appearances on CBS.

NCIS creators shared insights into the show’s 20th-anniversary celebration, revealing that McCallum wasn’t the sole contender for the role of Ducky. Harrison Ford, known for Star Wars, was initially considered for the role of Agent Leroy Gibbs, eventually portrayed by Mark Harmon. Additionally, Scott Glenn, famed for Urban Cowboy, was strongly considered for the role of Gibbs and, interestingly, for Ducky.

Susan Bluestein, the NCIS casting director, noted, “There was a lot of discussion about Scott Glenn, and ultimately Scott Glenn passed.” Despite Glenn’s notable filmography, including Vertical Limit, Silverado, The Hill, Silence of the Lambs, and The Hunt for Red October, the role went to McCallum.

NCIS creator Don Bellisario insisted on casting McCallum as Ducky, despite objections from the studio. James Whitmore, the director, recalled the studio’s hesitations, stating, “The studio protested, ‘No way, we’re not casting this old character actor in the part.’ And Don [Bellisario] said, ‘If you don’t, we’re not doing the show.’ He took it quite seriously.”

The studio eventually agreed, recognizing the value of having David McCallum as part of the cast. Since McCallum’s passing, tributes have poured in from fans and celebrities, including former co-star Mark Harmon. Harmon expressed his admiration, stating, “David lived a great, full, long life,” and extended sympathies to McCallum’s wife, Katherine, and his family. The behind-the-scenes journey of casting Ducky adds an intriguing layer to the legacy of NCIS and its enduring impact on television.

By chrysos