‘NCIS’: Billy Dee Williams Introduces Leroy Lethro Gibbs’ Namesake

by | October 29, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Interviews, NCIS

"NCIS": Billy Dee Williams guest stars as a World War II veteran, Leroy Jethro Moore. (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

When a petty officer is gunned down in a Ferrari, the “NCIS” team is on the case. But imagine how surprised they are to discover that the clues lead them to the man for whom Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is named while trying to unravel the murder.

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Billy Dee Williams signed on to play Leroy Jethro Moore, a long-time friend of Gibbs’ father Jackson (Ralph Waite). The “Star Wars” star — he played Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” — wouldn’t reveal what his character did to deserve Jackson’s honor, other than to say it revolves around a medal he received.

What he does tell XfinityTV.com in an exclusive interview is: “They grew up together in a small town and went to school together. The character I play was a Marine in the second World War and he was given a Congressional Medal of Honor. The relationship that I have with Gibbs’ father is part of the subplot.”

In order to play an 80-year-old man, Williams says he had to “grey” up. “I had never done that before in my life, so I had to put a lot of grey in my hair. It was interesting to me to see what I could do with an 80-year-old man who is rather energetic. I just wanted to play around with that whole sensibility.”

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Williams, who began acting in his youth to support his painting habit [His work can be seen at bdwworldart.com], says he has no plans to retire.

“It is too early to retire,” says the actor, who turned 75 last April. “I take very good care of myself and I’ve still got a lot of things I need and want to do — and I am still cute. Retiring seems like such a remote thing to me. The whole idea of it.”

In order to play Moore, Williams says it wasn’t necessary for him to do any research into the military, but that could change for future episodes.

That’s right! We did get Williams to reveal that he could return in a future episode. He says, “That is the whole idea, actually, when they hired me [was] to bring me back.” And he won’t mind doing it because, “It was a really great pleasure for me to work on that show with Mark Harmon. He is a wonderful, delightful human being with a beautiful spirit and a good heart.”

“NCIS” airs Tuesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.