Mark Harmon, the Interrogation—er, Interview

Mark Harmon as well-dressed cop Lucas Davenport in John Sandford’s Certain PreyThere’s been conversation, there’s been controversy, there’ve been comments, all on the question of whether Mark Harmon can actually pull off the role of Lucas Davenport, John Sandford’s anti-heroic hero of the Prey series.  (Check out the previous posts in this series.) He can do suave and confident, no question about that—Gibbs is plenty smooth when he wants to be—and he can do sociopathic—think Ted Bundy in The Deliberate Stranger—but there’s a particular, focused brutality to Davenport, a heart of darkness if you will, that we wanted to ask about.

And we did! 

Tatiana Maslany as Clara Rinker in John Sandford’s Certain Prey starring Mark Harmon
Tatiana Maslany as Clara Rinker, the finger of God
Of course, there were others on the call, too, and Harmon answered their questions about what he found attractive about playing Davenport, why he chose to start with Certain Prey rather than at the beginning of the series, and the challenges of squeezing the movie into his filming schedule for NCIS.

He spoke at length about his admiration for Sandford’s books and about how hard he tried when working on this movie (as both executive producer and actor) to “honor the material.” “Lucas is an interesting character,” he said, and followed it up with an explanation of Davenport’s edginess, his hard-core approach to crime fighting and life in general. (It was clear he was trying to prepare some of those on the call who weren’t familiar with Sandford’s work for the massive differences between Davenport and Gibbs. “He [Davenport] is as nasty as anyone he’s chasing.”)

When asked how he prepared for his role as Davenport, he replied: “We had to grow my hair as long as it could be.” He only had a forty-day hiatus in filming NCIS, where his hair is military-short, and twenty of those were spent filming Certain Prey.

Harmon has never met Sandford, though he says he would like to. According to one of the people on the line, Sandford said he thought Harmon would be able to handle Davenport because he’d seen him play Bundy. That seemed to throw him a bit, so you know we pressed him on it when we got the chance!

Lola Glaudini as Carmel Loan and Mark Harmon as Lucas Davenport in Certain Prey
Lola Glaudini as Carmel Loan and Mark Harmon as Lucas Davenport

For NCIS fans, Harmon talked about how they create the show—where the ideas come from for certain quirky things—and the upcoming marathon that will air before Certain Prey on Sunday. He spoke about the upcoming series two-parter, which will star his son as a young Gibbs in flashbacks.

And then they got to us. And you just know we had to get into more depth on the Sandford side of things, given how general the chat had been so far.  That’s not to say we’re not fans of NCIS, because of course we are, but we wanted to dish the dirt on Lucas, not Jethro.

Athena Karkanis as Marcy Sherrill in John Sandford’s Certain Prey
Athena Karkanis as Marcy Sherrill
*Whew*. . . so far so good!

And then we threw him the sociopathic the curveball:


Of course, he wouldn’t commit one way or the other, though we here at the office think Davenport falls closer to the Dexter side of the spectrum.  (Yes, during the interview, a couple of us repeatedly giggled like schoolgirls.  So sue us.  He’s charming and we’re dorks.)

Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

CE: As a follow up to that, you picked Certain Prey, which is the tenth in the series, obviously, and it finds Lucas at an interesting point. Because he is sort of between romances…

MH: Right.

CE: He’s also a little bit more self-aware than when he started. He’s now very much in the upper echelon. I’m hoping that we will see the diversity report show up, ’cause that is a really funny thing in the book. It’s one of points of humor, this everlasting diversity report. Also, we thought it was interesting that in this book Davenport is surrounded by really strong women, both heroines and villains (like cop Marcy Sherrill and hitwoman Clara Rinker).

CE: Will we get to see any of Davenport’s fear of flying? It’s kind of a fun vulnerability for what is otherwise such a tough guy kind of character.

MH: Like I said, you were in the room…

CE: *laughs* Well, thank you very much.

MH: No, no, no, it’s interesting to me cause you’re picking on things that are all so important to the story telling. They’re all there. Every one of them is there. That makes me feel good. You know the material, and we hit all those. And whether we hit them or not, or the way you perceive, that’s part of the fun of trying to take this and make a movie about it, where before, everyone is reading it and has their own opinion.

[Maybe you, dear readers, noticed the high contrast and bright backgrounds of the stills we’ve posted recently. We certainly did, and we had to ask about the movie’s look.]

So that’s the scoop.  We had a blast and we hope you’ll join us Sunday night as we watch the movie!   Come on back Monday, and tell us what you thought!

Mark Harmon as Lucas Davenport in John Sandford’s Certain Prey on USA
Lucas Davenport with his One True Love, the Diversity Report


CrimeHQ is a consortium of crime fans more shadowy than Lucas Davenport’s morality.


  1. Heather Waters (redline_)

    How awesome that you got this interview! It’s great to know MH and the other producers put so much work into making the adaptation a faithful one (or at least, as faithful as possible, considering the necessary changes). Looking forward to the movie.

  2. Saundra Peck

    Great interview CE!!! Nice to hear questions that require MH to not only compliment your knowledge of the series, but to find that he and his team made real efforts to honor a great series and it’s great characters. I knew I have always loved him for more than just his pretty face. Cannot wait to watch the movie!!!

  3. Clare 2e

    Glad you like it! He was most kind and charming to us (which you can hear turned our cold, black hearts to giggling pink gelatin), and is a serious fan of the Prey series–he’s conversant with them all and had been hoping to get one made into a movie for the last 5 years.

  4. Elyse Dinh-McCrillis

    The grilling was so well-done, I could smell the sizzling Harmon meat from here. And I mean that as a compliment for both CE and MH.

    I just read a review of the movie in Variety. They had some issues with it but found aspects to praise. Excerpts: “Harmon is such an inherently likable leading man, those inclined to tune aren’t apt to complain…” and “Nobody will confuse ‘Certain Prey’ with high art, but to its credit, it appears to harbor no pretensions along those lines; rather, like its hero, the movie seems fairly pragmatic and content to do what’s necessary to get the job done.”

  5. Terrie Farley Moran

    I think the interview was intelligently done and MH certainly agrees. CE rocks!

  6. Dapokerwiz

    Will there be a replay of this “Prey” on USA, if so, when. Otherwise will it be posted to watch online?

  7. Laura K. Curtis

    Dapokerwiz –

    I am sure there will be reruns! I believe the next one is on 11/19 at 11pm Eastern, but check your cable/satellite company to be sure.

  8. rosie turk

    Saw the tv movie and loved it. Hard to say why but it was the same Harmon in a different part but was the same character of NCIS. Can’t wait to see if the movie continue’s. Go for it!!

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