“NCIS,” starring Mark Harmon, is in its 18th season on CBS, and actor Rocky Carroll remembers thinking to himself when he jumped in for the fifth season that he was happy to be joining a hit show at the end of its run. He had no idea that the next decade of his life would be devoted to this hit show.
Carroll plays Director Leon Vance on the show, and he directed the new episode of “NCIS” called Gut Punch, which aired on Tuesday. Carroll spoke with CBS Local about what it was like to direct again, how a previous relationship with Harmon helped him get this job, and why this show is so popular.
“When I’m behind the camera at work, I’ve been given a nickname.” “I’m now Director Director because I play the director and I am the director,” Carroll explained to DJ Sixsmith of CBS Local. “This all started about five years ago.” I was intrigued, so I asked the producers if I could shadow the director. I’d been toying with the idea of directing. My first shot came about six weeks later. I guess I did something right because I now have 10 or 11 episodes of “NCIS” under my belt.
Over 300 episodes of “NCIS” have featured the actor and director. When he directs, he enjoys working with the actors, and Carroll has known the show’s star, Harmon, since the 1990s.
“I was fortunate because I had a long relationship with CBS before NCIS came on my radar,” Carroll said. “I had previously worked on several CBS shows.” Mark Harmon and I first met on “Chicago Hope” in the 1990s. For three seasons, we were both cast members of “Chicago Hope.” The next time I saw him was at the conclusion of season five of “NCIS.” My audition was more about Mark Harmon saying, ‘I know this guy, I like him, you should hire him,’ than it was about me auditioning.
Carroll relished the challenge of joining a popular show near the end of its fifth season and transforming Director Vance into a three-dimensional character with many layers.
“Over time, despite being the organization’s leader, he becomes a member of the team,” Carroll said. “The writers gave me a lot of leeway on that.” Having a prior relationship with Mark Harmon was also extremely beneficial. We just have a good time going back and forth. The incredible thing is that I joined the cast of this show at the tail end of season five, and I literally thought to myself that I had arrived on the tail end of a really good thing. At the very least, I can say that I’ll be here for the final two seasons. “That was 14 years ago.”