NCIS Show’s Existence Was in Jeopardy Due to the Hiring of This Actor

The show’s creators wanted this actor on the show, and he went on to star in it for 20 seasons. This is who it was.

NCIS fans can’t wait to learn more about season 21 – but we’ll be missing one of the show’s most important characters. Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard was played by David McCallum for 20 seasons, outlasting Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

There were substantial disagreements regarding McCallum joining the crew before he was cast in the series. Here’s what a series director had to say about the threat to discontinue NCIS because of McCallum.

The show’s developers were prepared to cancel it if Ducky star David McCallum was not cast.

Fans of NCIS can’t picture the show without David McCallum as Ducky Mallard. While it appears that no one else could play the medical examiner-turned-historian, there was much debate about McCallum’s casting at the outset of the series.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with former NCIS director James Whitmore Jr. about the drama. “When they cast David McCallum as Ducky, the studio said, ‘No way, we’re not casting this old character actor in the role,'” he told me.

Producer and author Don Bellisario responded by threatening to cancel NCIS. “And Don said, ‘If you don’t, we won’t do the show.'”

He took it quite seriously. The studio went with it, because David McCallum is, of course, gold.”

Former CBS casting director Peter Golden stated that he believed there was debate over McCallum’s casting because of where McCallum was from. “I think it was because David McCallum was British,” he explained to the newspaper. “The thought was, ‘Can you do that?'” This was a really American spectacle.”

Along with Pauley Perrette and Michael Weatherly, Golden stated that McCallum’s audition made him the “undeniable” ideal option for the role. “Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Michael Weatherly, they all came in and read, and when they read, it was undeniable,” he went on to say.

The Ducky actor recalls his casting.

David McCallum, who played Ducky on NCIS, once described how he acquired the part. He told The Television Academy Foundation that one day he received a phone call asking him to come to the office of casting director and film producer Bonnie Timmermann to film a tape for a show called NCIS. McCallum received a call to fly to Los Angeles to audition for the role of Ducky after auditioning in the office with an odd request (McCallum wanted the camera slanted toward the floor to imitate him staring at a d3ad body).

McCallum met Don Bellisario after a couple more auditions. “Afterwards, Don came out and put his arm around me, because he’s a great deal bigger than I am, and said, ‘David,’ … and I realized I might have the charm,” McCallum said. He subsequently got a flat tire on his rental car in Los Angeles, and while he was repairing it, he received a phone call. He was hired.

“And I said, well, then, I’m gonna go get a car that works,” McCallum laughed.

Season 21 of ‘NCIS’ will have to contain an homage to David McCallum.

Despite multiple high-profile departures, NCIS has not been cancelled. While fans are thrilled to see what Season 21 has in store, they will miss Ducky. David McCallum passed away in September of 2023.

The upcoming season will not contain Ducky, but we’re confident the showrunners will pay honor to the character and late actor. The new season will most likely premiere in early 2024. And we’d love to see some returning cast members from previous seasons.

“For more than 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences all over the world as the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” NCIS executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North said in a statement following his d3ath. “However, as much as his admirers adored him, those who worked alongside David adored him even more. He was a scholar and a gentleman, always cordial and professional, and never missed a joke.”

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