‘NCIS’: Gary Cole & Sean Murray on Alden Meshing With the Team and Missing Gibbs
Viewers may have to wait till next season for a multi-series crossover with NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: Hawai’i, but the casts of all three shows recently got together to walk the red carpet at the Dolby Theatre for PaleyFest 2022 LA.
TV Insider was on the scene and chatted up Gary Cole (Special Agent Alden Parker) and Sean Murray (Special Agent Timothy McGee) on how the former gelled with the show — both on-screen and off — and the latter on what it was like to deal for McGee to lose his father figure, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, when Mark Harmon left the show.
“The writers were very smart when they had [Parker] arrive during a conflict among the other characters,” Cole says. “They were chasing a serial killer and Parker was chasing the same one. They collided in the middle of a case so there was immediate conflict and animosity [between them], which was good.
“I thought it was handled pretty well,” Cole adds of how Parker merged into the show’s story. “The most important thing was how he entered as a character. He didn’t just show up and say he was the new guy.”
The writers had Parker step and up and make sure Gibbs wouldn’t go off to prison for making off with his prisoner and that likely played a significant role in the audience accepting him as one of the team. “My job is to simply tell the story of what they wrote,” Cole muses. “And to make that and every scene work however it fits in the story.”
“Parker came in a very different character than Gibbs,” says Murray, noting that McGee is perhaps affected by Gibbs’ departure the most as he views him as a second father. “Anyone who comes in is going to have to live up to a lot of expectations.” And now that Parker’s successfully been integrated into the team? “I think we have something different going on,” Murray says. “Instead of family structure with a paternal figure, [we’ve] got something where it’s more equal.
“Mark is like family to me and always will be,” Murray says of his former co-star. “I’ve known him for the run of the show. We actually did a show together called Harts of the West when I was 15 [in 1993]. It starred Lloyd Bridges and Beau Bridges — as part of a family that moved from Chicago to a western town. Jeff Bridges was going to be in an episode and play ‘Sam Carver,’ a drunken rodeo clown, but he couldn’t make it so Mark ended up doing it.”
While Parker may never fill a paternal role with the NCIS team quite the way that Gibbs did, Murray says he’s having a great time working with Cole. “We’re having a blast,” Murray says. “We really are.”
Cole says the show’s writers were also cognizant of the fact that not only did the NCIS team have to accept Parker as a colleague but so did the audience that accepted Cole who is filling the void left by Harmon and Gibbs.
“They actually wrote a moment that was not just for the team in the squad room but for the audience when Parker said, ‘I know this is weird. OK, I get it, but we’ve gotta get past this so we can get the job done…’ That was a way for the writers to send the signal to the viewers that yes, this was going to be different but also familiar because the show has been on for so long and has worked on so many different levels. My hat’s off to the writers. It wasn’t an easy task to figure out how to do that.”
NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS