Pam Dawber on Why It’s the Right Time to Join Husband Mark Harmon on ‘NCIS’

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Finally, the NCIS guest star we’ve been waiting for is here! On April 6, Pam Dawber joins husband Mark Harmon (they married in 1987) for the first of four episodes on the crime procedural. She plays experienced investigative reporter Marcie Warren, who has caught wind of an incident that occurred in the March 16 installment: Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) indefinitely suspended Gibbs, who admitted he didn’t regret beating up a man who was running a dogfighting ring.

“She’s trying to find out more about what really happened here, the story on this guy driven over the edge,” says Dawber, known for her roles in Mork & Mindy and My Sister Sam. The couple have not worked on television together before — they did both work on the 2000 feature film, I’ll Remember April, and a 1990s theater production of the play Love Letters — and Dawber gave TV Insider the scoop on this very special first.

NCIS has been on since 2003. Why did it take so long for you to guest star?

Pam Dawber: I’ve been asked to do NCIS before over the years. It just wasn’t the right character or the right time. With Marcie, it was so funny because when they were casting, Mark goes, “Who you’re really looking for is my wife.” They said, “But she’s always turned us down!” I read the script and I’m going, “Oh no.” My fear rockets flew off.

What made you afraid?

I haven’t acted in so long. It’s also, at my age, do you really want to be on a big screen? I finally thought I’d feel worse if I chickened out.

Mark Harmon Pam Dawber NCIS Season 18 Episode 11

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Marcie definitely isn’t one to chicken out. She’s so gutsy!

Nobody is getting back to her, so she finds out where Gibbs likes to hang out. She thinks she’s going to be cute and start a conversation [at the diner] and work her magic on him — which doesn’t happen.

How do they get along as the story progresses?

This is the first time a character is not scared of Gibbs. She’s a strong woman. They’re trying to figure each other out, but they’re opposite ends of the spectrum as far as their personalities. He frustrates the hell out of her with his mumbling Gibbs’ one-liners. She’s a chatterbox. There’s a lot of humor — character humor, not joking humor. We play against each other. That comes naturally. It’s fun. We’ve had a blast.

Did you rehearse together at home?

I’d say, “Let’s run lines,” and Mark would be like, “OK, but can we watch this game?” [Laughs] But it was all really effortless. I felt so safe on that set. I know everybody. Rocky Carroll directed, and I love working with directors that have been actors — they really know.

Did you base Marcie on anyone, or do any specific research for the role?

I was thinking of Robin Abcarian at The Los Angeles Times. I started writing to her back when Robin [Williams] passed away. She wrote something about Robin, and I sent her an email, and I occasionally write her when I read something she’s written. One thing she said to me was, “Over many years I’ve grown a thick skin.” I put that in my dialogue.

Mark Harmon NCIS Season 18 Episode 11 Gibbs

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Does your story takes some twists?

Marcie pulls Gibbs into something she’s working on. It’s just the two of us in my storyline, I’m not with the rest of the cast.

It sounds like this was so fun for you. Did this make you consider returning to series TV?

No. There’s too much social media negativity. And I have passed the point of wanting to sit the makeup chair at six o’clock in the morning!

NCIS, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS