‘NCIS: Origins’: Kyle Schmid on Stepping Into Big Shoes of Gibbs’ Mentor Mike Franks

TV Shows

The CBS fall 2024 season takes one of its most popular franchises back in time with NCIS: Origins. The NCIS prequel is set in 1991 and centers on a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Austin Stowell) earlier in his career as a special agent at the fledging (NIS) Naval Investigation Service’s Camp Pendleton, which eventually becomes the iconic NCIS division we know today.

Gibbs joins a ragtag team led by Mike Franks, with Kyle Schmid stepping into the role originated in the flagship series by Muse Watson. The weight of taking on this legend is not lost on Schmid. It’s arguably the biggest gig to date for the Canadian who got his start on Disney Channel in the early ’00s and whose recent resume includes starring on the History military series Six and recurring on Syfy’s Being Human and ABC’s Big Sky.

Despite being fatally stabbed in Season 8 of NCIS, Mike Franks would appear from time to time to guide mentee Gibbs (Mark Harmon) as an almost guardian angel. Here, Schmid, who is expecting his first child with his wife Caity Lotz, gives us an early tease of what’s to expect from the flashback spinoff.

What does it mean for you to be part of the legacy of this NCIS franchise? What kind of resource has Mark Harmon been for this new cast? 

Kyle Schmid: I think it’s a great opportunity to be part of something grandfathered into the industry as a standard for procedural television. It has been running for what’s going to be seasons. Mark Harmon did it and put his stamp on it and kind of led the way for everybody. It has been a really neat experience because he has lent his expertise and advice and help to all of us through emails and calls. Just time spent piquing his brain has been really important.

At a stage of your life where you’ve gotten married, having a kid and you get to shoot at Paramount in Los Angeles. I feel like I’ve won the lottery. I can’t wait to continue to work with the cast that was put together. I’m a legitimate fan of everybody they put together for this show. Incredible wife, job, house, and a baby on the way. My life has just become very complete, so I’m very lucky.

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Have you had much communication with Muse? 

He and I have become friends. We talk every couple of weeks and catch up on life. Having his blessing to play a younger version of a character he developed has been very cool.

How would you describe where we’ll be introduced to Mike at this point in his life and career? 

He had been part of NCIS for a while. In 2001, when you meet him he is a little older, a little more jaded. He has seen a lot that I think he wished he could have had more control over. So, we’re seeing him at a point in his life where he has paved his own way and earned the respect of the agency. Now he has the opportunity to build a team that he sees as being some of the most promising agents in NCIS. We get to meet those people and see those people grow. He is still at a point where he gets to mentor Gibbs. I think we’ll get to see why Gibbs was who the world fell in love with in the original NCIS and how he came to be that way. And Mike Franks is a big part of that.

Kyle Schmid and Caity Lotz

Lifetime

With the show taking us back to the 1990s, what kind of vibe do you see us getting? I’m looking forward to feeling that nostalgia. 

The music is what excites me. I was born in the early 1980s, so I like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. Those are still on my daily playlist. I failed to mature with music and am stuck in the 1990s. We have incredible music. I think it’s fun to play with the dynamics of the male-female relationship in the workplace. We get to live in a world where things are a little backward compared to today. I think it’s going to be really interesting how David [J. North] and Gina [Lucita Monreal], who are our showrunners and are phenomenal, decide to tackle that.

We get to see how Mike Franks gets to play a 40-year-old in an industry in 1991 that we in present-day America have forgotten, and have tried to change. I think that will be really interesting for the show. I did a show with Tom Fontana a few years ago. He is one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with. He said to me that there are no black-and-white characters. There are only gray characters. The people who are the bad guys don’t know they’re bad guys. They are just doing the best they know. I think 1991 in Los Angeles is a very poignant point in history with a lot that happened. We’re going to be able to explore all of that with phenomenal directing. I think with a younger and edgier cast, it will make for an edgier show in the process. This is super exciting because we have phenomenal actors who really get to dig into this stuff that I’m hoping will blow teh doors wide open.

You’re going into filming this show at a time when you’re becoming a dad. Just moved into a new house with Caity still working as well. How are you all preparing for all that? 

It’s a good question. Luckily, I have the best wife in the world. Caity’s mom is going to come to town. My dad’s coming to town. I love working. Working is something that gives me energy. I get to go to work, which I love, and then come home to a family I love. I’m absolutely burning the candle at both ends with this.

NCIS: Origins premiere, September 1, 10/9c, CBS

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