David James Elliott has been in countless movies and TV shows over the years, but is best known for his leading role as Harmon Rabb on JAG. As the actor prepares to reprise his role on NCIS: LA, he talks about how he got his start—and whether he’d be up for a JAG reboot.
Who is David James Elliott?
A little bit about myself—I originally hail from Canada and moved here in 1989. I am now a proud citizen of this great country. My wife and I have a beverage company, IndiCoco, that manufactures coconut water-based drinks—nutritious, healthful, and hydrating. The company is largely run by my wife, Nanci, and is headquartered in the U.S., but the beverages are manufactured in Thailand. We are selling presently only in the Far East but plan to launch later this year in the U.S.
You can follow us on Instagram at @drinkindicoco and visit the website to get more info if you’re interested.
I played the character of ‘Harmon Rabb Jr.’ on JAG (CBS Television). ‘Harm,’ as he was affectionately known, was a former top-gun pilot and also a Navy lawyer. JAG is an acronym for ‘Judge Advocate General’ corp., which is the legal arm of the military.
How did David James Elliott learn JAG had been cancelled after its first season?
I was told about the show’s cancellation on NBC during the filming of the last episode of the season. Don Bellisario pulled me aside and gave me the news, which was incredibly disheartening as we still had about four days of filming left and the finale was a cliffhanger.
When did David James Elliot find out JAG was being picked up by another network for a second season?
I found out the show was being picked up by CBS a few days after we had finished filming. Don B. was in the air going to NYC for the television upfronts and called me from the plane. (There used to be phones at your seat in first-class in those days ☺)
Don told me Les Moonves had picked the show up as a mid-season replacement and had got a 13-show order. It was kind of lackluster as the show had originally been on the main schedule at NBC and had a lot of fanfare—so this was a bit of a letdown.
But history shows that you never know what’s around the corner as it became a bona fide hit at CBS and was a top ten show for most of its time there.
What is the legacy of JAG?
I don’t know what, if any, ‘legacy’ there is for JAG in a distinguished or acclaimed way. It was a very successful show for us and CBS, and had an amazing 10-year run in total.
It spawned NCIS and all its derivatives and it made me proud.
Did military members ever thank David James Elliott for his portrayal of Harmon Rabb on JAG?
Part of the pride I felt in being part of JAG was in the reaction we got from the active and former military members.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how happy they are we took the pains to be authentic in our portrayals and accurate in the protocols of military life. I am also thanked often for putting a human face to the military personnel that often feel dismissed as nothing more than a cog in a big machine.
I have also been thanked for being a positive role model in playing such a moral and positive character.
How often has David James Elliott been approached about reviving his JAG role?
I honestly have never been approached to return to the screen as Harm before.
What made the timing right for David James Elliott and Catherine Bell to do guest spots on NCIS: Los Angeles?
The turn on NCIS: LA happened by chance through a conversation I had with my old friend/former JAG writer/NCIS:LA showrunner, R. Scott Gemmill.
It kinda just happened.
Fans felt a rush when they saw David James Elliott take off his helmet on NCIS: Los Angeles and heard the JAG theme play. Did he feel a similar thrill?
Harm’s entrance on NCIS: LA where he walks off the flight line and removes his helmet was an almost spooky moment for me.
It took place on the second day of filming and was really the moment where it sunk in that Harm was back. It was powerful for me and I’m glad there was such a positive reaction to it from the fans.
Tom Wolfe said you can’t go home again, but I did that day even if only for a few minutes. ☺
My 16-year-old daughter, Emmie, has been a huge fan of yours for years. She asks, “Did you and Catherine Bell ever have a funny or awkward experience while filming JAG?”
Please thank Emmie for me!! There really was no awkward or funny moment in particular while filming—just maybe a strange/awkward/déjà vu feeling when we first said hello in the makeup trailer on her first day.
One of your fans, Beatrix, would like to know, “Have you ever flown in a Tomcat or any other fighter like Harm did?”
Tell Beatrix that I indeed flew in a supersonic jet.
I had the rare privilege of flying with the Blue Angels in a F18 Super Hornet.
Thrill of a lifetime!
Would David James Elliott be willing to reprise your role full-time in a JAG revival?
I never thought I would ever say this, but I would jump at the opportunity to bring Harm back to life again, especially in a new and different light such as playing the XO—or even CO—of a carrier and commander of the air wing.
It would make such an amazing show with where we are in the world today geopolitically and environmentally. There are countless story opportunities and so many personal stories to explore.
Give fans a teaser about your character in the Season 11 premiere of NCIS: LA.
In the finality of this character arc on NCIS:LA, you’ll get to see Harm and Mac meet face to face for the first time in 14 years—and finally get the answer to how the coin landed in the last episode of JAG.
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