NCIS’ Brian Dietzen speaks out on effect of Mark Harmon exit on series ‘Very different’
NCIS star Brian Dietzen has admitted the show doesn’t feel the same without the team’s commander-in-chief Leroy Gibbs at the helm.The NCIS franchise has had a whirlwind couple of years after multiple cast members decided to bow out. However, the most sh+++ing development has been the surprise exit of Leroy Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) after nearly 20 years heading up the CBS drama. His co-star Brian Dietzen has now weighed in on how the cast and creators are coping with the serious changes.
Dr Jimmy Palmer star Brian has opened up about how it feels not to be working with Mark after nearly two decades of sharing the screen.
Like Mark, Brian has been with the show since it first began way back in 2003, starting as a supporting cast member before eventually being promoted to series regular.
“This season has been unlike any other,” he said of season 19.
“We had two cast members move on and two new ones move in. So it’s been a very different year than what we’re used to.”
The 18th season of the series also saw the departures of Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Jack Sloane (Maria Bello).
While Jack’s stint with the series was more short-lived, many fans were devastated by the loss, especially since becoming invested in a potential relationship between her and Agent Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama).
Thankfully, the roster has been filled up with two newcomers, Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) and a new team leader, Alden Parker (Gary Cole).
Even so, Brian still admits the latest season has been challenging without one of the show’s most familiar faces leading the team.
He told ET Online: “For so long, one of the strengths of the show was that it was centred around the Gibbs character, which works.
“It’s been tried and true, and it worked for so long. But in the absence of that character, there’s a vacuum that’s left because that character’s no longer at the centre of the room.”
The latest season has still managed to pick up the pace despite the absence of so many favourite characters.
Newcomer Parker has proven an equally complex hero for the series after defecting from the FBI to protect Gibbs last year.
Season 19’s staggering finale left NCIS on yet another cliffhanger as Parker was forced to go on the run from the Bureau.
However, the renegade agent’s story will also be supported by plenty of drama back at HQ once the series returns.
“Because of that power vacuum, the dynamic must change to become much more of an ensemble drama,” Brian explained.
“And everyone has their roles to play within that. Instead of everyone going to a centralised power of, ‘What should I do?’”
Established agents like Tim McGee (Sean Murray), Torres and newcomers like Knight could be given a newfound sense of independence now they don’t have Gibbs to report to.
Brian added: “People are digging the bull by the horns themselves and it creates something that’s different.
“I’ll leave it to others to say whether they like it better this way or previously, but it certainly has to change.
“To see how these characters grow after a big change like that, it’s been super interesting for us.”
There will be plenty more changes to come once NCIS returns, though some fans will still be keeping their fingers crossed for another appearance from Gibbs to mark the series’ milestone 20th season.
NCIS is available on CBS in the USA. New episodes arrive on Wednesdays on Disney+ in the UK.