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Mark Harmon sets the record straight with new details of NCIS departure: 'I was just tired'

The actor played Leroy Jethro Gibbs from 2003-2021

"Judge, Jury..." After entering cold case DNA into the system, Kasie solves a 30-year-old murder case, but a loophole in the legal system may set the suspect free. Also, McGee visits an elite technology company in Silicon Valley that is offering him a highly paid position, on NCIS, on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad SanwariSenior WriterNew York
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Mark Harmon is out and about promoting his new book Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese spy, a Japanese American spy hunter, and the untold story of Pearl Harbor, which he wrote in collaboration with real life NCIS Special Agent Leon Carroll Jr.

The two met while working on the long-running CBS crime procedural NCIS, which Mark starred in from 2003-2021 as SSA Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and he spoke about his relationship with the show on the November 28th episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Host Kelly Clarkson asked the 72-year-old actor about how he felt leaving the show behind two years ago after nearly two decades as the lead and eventual executive producer.

VIDEO: Mark Harmon shows off dancing skills in first ever TV role

"I think for the longest time, I was just tired," he confessed, adding that the show, at least in its initial seasons, involved long hours of work and shooting.

"Part of taking the job [involved] being home, with a young family, not traveling so much doing movies. The first day, we worked 22 hours. So I thought, 'That's not exactly what I thought this was going to be.' But we had a lot of days like that in the first four years."

Mark added, however, that the joy in working on the long-running series came in remaining on his toes, keeping aware of the people coming in and out of the fray, and building relationships with them.

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"That it's been the success it's become, that's great. To be a part of that, that's great. Writers change, runners change, casts change, all that. And I always tried to pay attention to that, daily.

"I tried to do what my title said, which is read ahead, note ahead, stay ahead of things. And it's a lot. I paid attention to the writing room. That was successful, I'm proud of [it]. The people who I met through it, I'm proud of it in a different way."

Mark Harmon and David McCallum on NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
Mark starred on the hit CBS show from its inception in 2003 till 2021

Mark met Leon when the latter was a technical advisor on NCIS, and through their relationship, they came up with the idea to explore the real histories of the forces and people who laid the groundwork for NCIS.

The Freaky Friday star further expanded upon his book and life post-NCIS in an interview with People, and confessed to them that while he wasn't retired, his new free time did give him the opportunity to relax a bit.

Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray and Mark Harmon© Getty Images
"The first day, we worked 22 hours. So I thought, 'That's not exactly what I thought this was going to be.'"

Mark has been married to actress Pam Dawber since 1987 and they share sons Sean, 35, and Ty Christian, 31. He told the publication that he felt "lucky" to have a lot more time with his wife and adult sons, who maintain a low public profile.

Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly in NCIS© Getty Images
"That it's been the success it's become, that's great. To be a part of that, that's great."

"I've got time to do whatever I want to. I can plan a dinner with the boys, we can take a trip. I'm so fortunate, I don't ever wake up not thinking that."

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