NCIS wouldn’t have been the same without the lovable medical examiner Ducky, but he was nearly played by a completely different actor.
NCIS’ actor David McCallum was behind Ducky from the very beginning, however, there was another famous name thrown into the ring who could have taken on the role.
Fans around the world have been left heartbroken following the news that the Donald “Ducky” Mallard star had died six days after his 90th birthday last month.
McCallum had been behind Ducky since the pilot episode, working as the team’s chief medical examiner until he retired from the position in March 2019.
He wasn’t quite ready to leave it all behind entirely, so was brought back as the part-time historian and CBS viewers loved seeing him pop in from time to time.
The Brit wasn’t always guaranteed the role, NCIS’ creators have revealed, as there was another Hollywood star who was up for the part.
To mark the police procedural turning 20 this year, some of NCIS’ behind-the-scenes stars spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about bringing the show to life.
It is well known that Star Wars actor Harrison Ford was discussed to play Agent Leroy Gibbs with Mark Harmon later hired for the role.
However, executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson recalls that Urban Cowboy actor Scott Glenn was “considered very strongly” for Gibbs.
NCIS’ casting director Susan Bluestein then said: “Scott Glenn, yes. And Scott Glenn was also being considered for the role of Ducky.
“There was a lot of discussion about Scott Glenn, and ultimately Scott Glenn passed.”
Apart from Urban Cowboy, Glenn has been in Vertical Limit, Silverado, The Hill, Silence of the Lambs and The Hunt for Red October so he was well known on the big screen.
Nevertheless, NCIS creator Don Bellisario was adamant that he wanted McCallum as Ducky, despite some reservations.
Director James Whitmore explained: “When they cast David McCallum as Ducky, the studio said ‘No way, we’re not casting this old character actor in the role.’
“And Don [Bellisario] said ‘If you don’t we’re not doing the show.’ He was that serious about it.
“The studio went with it, and of course, David McCallum is gold.”
Fans and stars alike have been paying tribute to McCallum since he died, including former co-star Harmon.
In a statement, he said: “David lived a great, full, long life.
“I was in awe when I first met him and all of us on the show were honored to have toed a mark opposite him.
“My condolences go out to [David’s wife] Katherine and his family.”