Naval gaz­ing

Fam­ily and a new train­ing regime keep Michael Weatherly grounded, writes An­drew Fen­ton

Herald Sun - Switched On - - COVER STORY -

With the 300th episode of NCIS ap­proach­ing, Michael Weatherly can firmly pin­point his most mem­o­rable mo­ment in 12 years of the se­ries.

“I gave Mark Har­mon (Gibbs) mouth to mouth re­sus­ci­ta­tion,” he says with a grin. “Some things stay with you. ‘Sex­i­est Man Alive’ circa ’87. I had some of that.”

Dur­ing an in­ter­view in Los An­ge­les, Weatherly, 46, is charm­ing and en­ter­tain­ing com­pany, of­ten crack­ing self­dep­re­cat­ing gags. But af­ter more than a decade play­ing “Very” Spe­cial Agent Tony DiNozzo on the most popular TV drama in the world — watched weekly by 57.6 mil­lion peo­ple — he’s at pains to point out there are some sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween him­self and the char­ac­ter. great time. That’s a pri­mary dif­fer­ence be­tween us … Tony makes a lot of re­ally sad choices.

“I feel very bad for him and I hope that he fig­ures some stuff out.”

When Weatherly joined the JAG spin-off, 275 episodes ago, back in 2003, he was best known for James Cameron’s sci-fi se­ries Dark An­gel and his en­gage­ment to co-star Jes­sica Alba. Back then, he says, he was ter­ri­fied of say­ing the wrong thing about the re­la­tion­ship or the show.

“I was very trepidatious and knew there were a lot of ways to screw that up. Four­teen years on, you’ll find I’m a lot more can­did and don’t re­ally give a sh--.”

More than any­thing, NCIS has given Weatherly the se­cu­rity to put down roots. Be­fore the show came along, he says he couldn’t even get a dog be­cause he was al­ways up­root­ing him­self to travel for work to Van­cou­ver ( Dark An­gel) or Australia ( The Mys­tery of Natalie Wood).

“(I) have re­ally ce­mented as­pects of my­self that were not al­ways at­tached to the ground,” he says. “It’s the sure foot­ed­ness ess and the con­fi­dence that comes with know­ing there’s a job to go to the next day.”

With Janck­ovic’s pun­ish­ing sched­ule and Weatherly’s long hours on the NCIS set, as well as his bur­geon­ing pro­duc­tion com­pany, their mar­riage cann some­times seem like a longdis­tance re­la­tion­ship. So the cou­ple have im­ple­mented a regular date night.

“We go once a month and have a lit­tle night out byy our­selves and stay some­where great,” Weatherly says. “She had our two chil­dren dur­ing res­i­dency and for any­one’s who watched Grey’s Anatomy, res­i­dency is a very chal­leng­ing time for the bur­geon­ing doc­tor.

“You’re do­ing 30 hour shifts, be­ing on your feet the whole time, be­ing ex­posed to ex­treme drama — real drama, not, ‘Is Ziva go­ing to come back?’ sort of drama.”

Weatherly’s more re­laxed ap­proach to in­ter­views is mir­rored in his ap­proach to par­ent­ing. He’s a very dif­fer­ent dad than he was to his 18-yearold son Au­gust, born to his first wife, Amelia Heinle.

“I was very ner­vous the first time around,” he ad­mits. “Ba­bies are such a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity and you can get in­side your head re­ally quick about it. Now, as long as they don’t just fall down the stairs or some­thing, you get a lit­tle bit more re­laxed.”

View­ers will have no­ticed Weatherly look­ing a lot trim­mer in sea­son 12 (cur­rently screen­ing on Ten) than he did last sea­son. He says although he’s al­ways had “weight fluc­tu­a­tions” he be­gan to pile it on dur­ing sea­son 11, partly as a re­sult of the stress of two chil­dren at home, but also be­cause of his anx­i­ety over the de­par­ture of Cote de Pablo, who played Ziva, which left him floun­der­ing.

“It’s not like I sort of fell into some deep de­spair,” he says. “But I got to the end of the sea­son and I had had it, I was ex­hausted and tired. So I gave my­self the whole sum­mer and the goal of this triathlon.”

He hired a trainer, cut down on carbs and “any­thing out of a pa packet”, started boxing and be be­gan swim­ming ev­ery Su Sun­day, in­clud­ing shortly be be­fore our in­ter­view.

“That 35 pounds (16kg) was ara real shift and I felt years yo younger and a lot hap­pier, and wa was determined as much as po pos­si­ble to con­trol any slide ba back to­wards the mid­dle.”

Given de Pablo’s exit seems to have made as much of an im im­pact on Weatherly as the fan fans, can he see her ever re re­turn­ing to the show?

“I do give it some thought from time to time,” he says. “I’m not sure how she would come back now, given that Bishop (Emily Wick­er­sham) is fairly en­trenched at that desk. That would be awk­ward­ness not of the best kind, not of the most dra­matic kind, just a weird day at work. Like in a, ‘Oh, we’re go­ing to have my ex-wife over for din­ner’, kind of a way.

“By the way,” he laughs, “that does not hap­pen in my house.”

“We go once a month and have a lit­tle night out

by our­selves”


hit show and get­ting his Amer­i­can ac­cent in place.

“I didn’t start do­ing this,” he says, re­fer­ring to the Amer­i­can ac­cent he uses for this in­ter­view. “When I first met ev­ery­one I was talk­ing in my ‘old’ voice (his English one). but I was sort of nat­u­rally wor­ried about it be­cause I had to get it right – peo­ple are go­ing to know.”

Wes is a poor law stu­dent drawn into a mur­der plot, but Enoch had a dif­fer­ent uni­ver­sity ex­pe­ri­ence to draw on – he went to Ox­ford.

“I recog­nised the in­ten­sity of some of those sort of peo­ple (that are the stu­dents of the cut­throat Ivy League law school fea­tured in HTGAWM).”





Michael Weatherly with the cast of NCIS.

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