Celebrities & Pop Culture

Mark Harmon Opens Up About His Secrets To Success In New Interview

Harmon said, “I come from working stock, and I’m proud of that."

You don’t just become a famous actor overnight. And you certainly don’t sustain your star power for decades without completely owning your craft. Mark Harmon isn’t afraid to put the work in, and it shows.

In a recent interview with People magazine, Harmon opened up about where he is in his career today and the discipline it took to get there. And just because “NCIS,” the show on which he stars, has been one of the most-watched TV dramas for years doesn’t mean he’s taking it easy now. Quite the opposite, actually.

“I come from working stock, and I’m proud of that,” the actor told the magazine. “You have to get up every day and just try hard. That’s what I still wake up willing to do: try my hardest.”

mark harmon photo
Getty Images | Mark Davis

He credits his tenacious attitude to his late father, sportscaster Tom Harmon, who told him, “Work your a** off, and don’t let the effort show.”

Harmon entered the public eye as a quarterback for the UCLA football team during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Then he switched his aspirations to Hollywood. While much of acting is a waiting game — waiting for opportunities, waiting to get a call back after an audition — he said he focused on staying ready.

“This choice, this career, requires you to be all in,” he told People. “Your job is to be prepared for the opportunity — it will come, you just won’t know when. So until then, all you can do is invest in yourself … I’ve always worked hard, I’ve always tried to pay attention to the little things — but here’s the real secret: there are no little things.”

mark harmon photo
Getty Images | Taylor Hill

The understanding of knowing when to work on yourself, and when to go after a gig, has helped Harmon throughout the years.

“In the beginning of this chase, you try very hard to control everything,” he said in an interview with Men’s Journal. “As an actor you control none of it. That’s sometimes important — stepping away from it and not putting so much focus on it.”

Throughout his career, Harmon has starred in TV shows such as “The West Wing,” “Chicago Hope,” and “Moonlighting.” He’s also had roles in movies such as “Freaky Friday,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” and “Chasing Liberty.”

He’ll be the first to tell you that landing these roles has a lot to do with luck, as he considers himself a “lucky guy.” But he also knows that luck doesn’t come if you don’t put the work in.

“I’m a lucky guy,” he told People. “But you earn luck.”

Because “luck” alone certainly doesn’t sustain a nearly 50-year acting career, that’s for sure.