Why Michael Weatherly Was Initially Hesitant About Joining NCIS


Michael Weatherly was a staple of the long-running CBS procedural series, “NCIS,” having appeared on the first 13 seasons of the show. However, some hesitation from the actor almost kept him away from one of his best-known roles. On “NCIS,” Weatherly played Senior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo, the sometimes male chauvinist and sometimes charming goofball Agent.

Fans may forget with all of its own spin-offs including “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans” that “NCIS” is itself a spin-off of the procedural “JAG,” which ran from 1995-2005. “NCIS” began its epic run in 2003 and was created by “JAG” creator Donald P. Bellisario and Don McGill. Bellisario is something of a TV legend, as he created such classics as “Airwolf” and the original “Magnum P.I.” and “Quantum Leap.” Weatherly naturally took a meeting with Bellisario when the call came in, but he was unsure of how he felt about joining this new project.


Weatherly was concerned with playing an authentic Italian cop on NCIS


Michael Weatherly expressed his hesitation on joining “NCIS” to The Futon Critic firstly because of the stigma attached to joining a “JAG” spin-off series. He said, “I was a little reluctant initially … But I went and had this dinner with Don Bellisario in Australia, and his personality, his storytelling, and his presence, and everything kind of won me over.”

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As a big fan of Bellisario’s classic series “Magnum P.I.,” Weatherly simply wanted to ask the creator fanboy questions, but throughout the meeting, he was won over by Bellisario’s idea for “NCIS.” Weatherly said, “I was like, ‘This could work.’ But then the funny thing was that my character’s name was Anthony DiNozzo and he’s clearly supposed to be [an] Italian homicide cop from Baltimore who’s like gritty, and edgy, and street.”

Weatherly had some trouble wrapping his head around playing the character, describing his own upbringing, “I’m the WASP from the boarding school whose instincts could only come from how to slip out when the dorm master has shut out the lights for the night. I’m ‘School Ties,’ not ‘Homicide.'” He didn’t think he’d make a believable street-smart Italian detective, and he couldn’t imagine being the first pick for casting the role.

After the dinner with Bellisario, Weatherly thought he’d have a 50/50 chance of locking in the role. He said he wasn’t sure at first whether the pilot would be picked up. But the show did indeed get picked up for series, and Weatherly had a main role on “NCIS” through Season 13.


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