Before his death, David McCallum revealed the sad truth about ‘NCIS’ co-star Cote de Pablo The Fans Weren’t Happy

David McCallum became a star by playing Soviet agent Illya Kuryakin in the 1960s spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

More recently, the Scottish-born actor was known for his long-running role as a medical examiner on hit TV show NCIS.

Sadly, McCallum passed away on September 25, 2023.

“David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world,” the NCIS tribute said.

“He led an extraordinary life, and his legacy will endure through his family and the countless hours of film and television that will forever remain.”

His family also paid tribute to the late actor.

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“He was the kindest, coolest, most patient, and loving father. He always prioritized family over self. He eagerly anticipated any opportunity to connect with his grandchildren, and he had a unique bond with each of them,” his son, Peter McCallum, shared in a statement on behalf of the family. “He and his youngest grandson, Whit, 9, could often be found in the corner of a room at family gatherings, engaged in deep philosophical conversations.

“He was a true renaissance man—he was deeply interested in science and culture and translated those passions into knowledge,” the statement continued. “For instance, he was capable of conducting a symphony orchestra and, if necessary, could even perform an autopsy, drawing from his decades-long studies for his role on NCIS.

“After returning from the hospital to their apartment, I asked my mother if she was okay before she went to sleep. Her response was simply, ‘Yes. But I do wish we had had a chance to grow old together.’ She is 79, and Dad just turned 90. The honesty in that emotion reflects the vibrancy of their beautiful relationship and daily lives. Even at 90, Daddy never grew old.”

With his parents being professional musicians—his dad, David Sr., worked as an orchestral violinist for the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and his mother, Dorothy, as a cellist—many assumed McCallum would follow the same career path. Well, in a way, he did, because besides being a renowned figure in the film industry, he was also a musician who released four albums with Capitol Records in the mid-60s.

Speaking of his love for music, McCallum once said, “I always knew that I could turn to music if I failed as an actor.” However, acting became his passion the moment he stepped on stage for the first time.

“I played The Little Prince in Shakespeare’s King John, at one of those local events where people perform skits and songs. I played the little prince having his eyes put out by this terrible man, and I acted it so well that I received a standing ovation. I wasn’t more than eight,” he recalled.

“And I thought, ‘Hey, hey, hey, this is kinda cool!’ I don’t know if I consciously thought it, but I had found the place I wanted to be: on a stage, with the lights, makeup, and the people. I’m exactly the same to this day; the feeling has never left.”

Initially, he attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, but he left to pursue his education at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. One of the actors McCallum worked with on NCIS was Cote de Pablo.

Between 2005 and 2013, Cote de Pablo appeared in 189 episodes of NCIS. She made brief returns in both 2019 and 2020 but never returned as a regular cast member.

When she decided to leave the show towards the end of the 11th season, both her co-stars and her fans were surprised by her decision.

“It was not an easy decision, not one taken lightly,” she told Latina at the time. “I feel like I am leaving my family. What I want to say most of all is thank you to the fans and to the people who have been so supportive of me and of the show, who have made the show the great success that it is.” When McCallum learned the news, he was left frustrated.

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Speaking to Digital Spy, he explained that writers had to rewrite several episodes of the show, and he was upset.

“It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us,” McCallum said.

“I just don’t understand how a leading lady in a show that’s worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production.

“This business is ruthless, so right away the whole team of writers gets in and rewrites the first five shows,” he added. “When it happened, you think, ‘This is a dangerous road to go down’—but they pulled it off.”

In 2016, McCallum chose to share his thoughts on why Cote de Pablo left the show during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit.

“At the time I was astonished when Cote left. But in retrospect, it seems that she was not up to handling the demands that the character put upon her,” he responded, as reported by Express.

He added, “I still don’t understand her deeper motives.” Several weeks after McCallum’s comments about Cote de Pablo, she spoke to Vanity Fair and shared her perspective.

“Look, I love this character. I worked eight years crafting this character and loving her. And so when I felt or I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, no money in the world [would make me stay],” she shared with the magazine.

“They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman,” the actress continued. “I said, ‘What do I leave all the women that have watched and followed the show for so long?’ And I didn’t think it was fair. So I said, ‘Unless someone can really write something fantastic for her, I won’t go back.”

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