NCIS welcomed Gary Cole's former FBI agent Alden Parker as the new team leader to replace Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who officially left in the fourth episode of Season 19. Although Cole is a veteran actor with dozens and dozens of memorable roles on his resume, this is the first time he's had to fill in shoes as big as Harmon's. In a new interview ahead of Monday's episode, Cole said he wasn't trying to be Gibbs, but was crafting a completely new character to give NCIS a new vibe.
"Parker isn't overly chatty, but he is more verbal," Cole told TVInsider when comparing his new character to Gibbs. "He's not as old school; he tries to get his hands on new tech gadgets and impress everybody. He's trying to fit in with the rest of the team. Although he may be reluctant to voice it, he admires that Gibbs breaks rules. Parker bends them. We'll see if it gets to the point of breaking."
At the start, Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) is the one member of the team most apprehensive about having Parker as his new boss. He's even been seen trying to understand why McGee (Sean Murray) didn't try for the job. McGee is "intelligent and open, is reluctant at first but rolls with" the new status quo, Cole said. Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) and Kasie (Diona Reasonover) are " in a different world because they're scientific," he said of their response to Parker.
Over the years, fans learned more and more about Gibbs' past. They can expect more of Parker's past to catch up with him as well. "There's a situation that did not go according to plan, and something tragic happened. He's purposely kind of an enigma," Cole told TVInsider. He also noted that the NCIS writers have been open to bringing out Cole's sarcasm and humor, which he has so brilliantly used in the past on shows like VEEP.
Harmon was the face of NCIS from the beginning, and his character was first introduced towards the end of JAG. Over the summer, it was announced that Harmon would be leaving during Season 19, but it was still surprising to see him only last four episodes. Gibbs was written off the show, as he decided to stay in Alaska instead of heading back to the office. Cole's Parker was introduced in the second episode of Season 19, "Nearly Departed." New episodes of NCIS air on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, with episodes of the new spinoff NCIS: Hawai'i following.