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The Transformation Of Michael Weatherly From Childhood To NCIS

"NCIS" has been one of CBS' most-watched and beloved shows for almost two decades. While the police procedural has many standout characters, one of the most popular was jocular Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo, played deftly by Michael Weatherly. DiNozzo was an integral part of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for over 300 episodes until Weatherly departed "NCIS" in 2016. The charismatic performer was so magnetic as Tony that fans hope he will reprise his role in either the original series or one of its various spin-offs like "NCIS: Hawai'i."

According to Weatherly's website, he was born on July 8, 1968. While he entered the world in New York City, the actor lived most of his days as a youth in Fairfield, Connecticut. Weatherly went to Boston University, American University, and Menlo College until he decided he would rather recite lines in front of a camera than cram for exams. After leaving his academic life behind, Weatherly began his television career over 10 years before "NCIS" first graced the small screen.

Michael Weatherly made his TV debut in the early '90s

Michael Weatherly debuted on TV in 1991 on one of the most renowned and revered half-hour shows of the '80s and early '90s. He played Theo's roommate in the 7th season of "The Cosby Show" in the episode "Theo's Final Final." During his short amount of screen time, the future "NCIS" star blows up a pink balloon and receives a shoulder massage. Unfortunately, Weatherly did not get the chance to develop his character beyond this brief appearance since he never acted on "The Cosby Show" again.

The up-and-coming actor transitioned from sitcoms to soaps by landing a guest gig on "Guiding Light." In 1992, Weatherly earned his first recurring role on daytime television. He portrayed Cooper Alden on the soap opera "Loving" and its sequel series, "The City."

In the late '90s, Weatherly made his foray into feature films. He got to show off his musical chops as Dean in the 1997 Rodney Dangerfield comedy "Meet Wally Sparks." Weatherly also had a small part in Whit Stillman's cerebral indie "The Last Days of Disco," released in 1998.

He starred alongside Jessica Alba in Dark Angel

Weatherly spent the end of the 20th century guest-starring in the WB's witchy hit "Charmed" and six episodes of Christina Applegate's short-lived sitcom "Jesse." At the beginning of the 2000s, he considerably advanced his acting career. After appearing on soaps and in bit parts on various shows, Weatherly finally got to play a main character on a primetime television series when he starred with Jessica Alba in "Dark Angel." Weatherly appeared in all 42 episodes of the sci-fi show as journalist and hacker Logan Cale, who is also known by his pseudonym Eyes Only. On the show, Cale forms a friendship with Alba's protagonist Max. Their platonic bond evolves into a romance.

To dust off an old cliché, life sometimes really does imitate art. Weatherly and Alba began dating when the actress was 18, and they eventually got engaged, via Cosmopolitan. However, the two never made it to the altar. A few years after "Dark Angel" ended in 2002, Weatherly humorously referenced his past relationship with Alba while playing one of his most memorable and well-liked characters -– Anthony DiNozzo from "NCIS."

Weatherly first played his iconic NCIS character on JAG

After "Dark Angel" was canceled, Weatherly did not have to wait long for a meaty role to come his way. In 2003, he made his first appearance as Senior Field Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo in Season 8 of the military courtroom drama "JAG." Weatherly acted alongside future co-stars Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette in the episodes "Ice Queen" and "Meltdown," which were intended as backdoor pilots for "NCIS."

A few months after the "JAG" episodes aired, the "NCIS" pilot aired on CBS, launching Weatherly's long run as Tony DiNozzo. Tony became closely associated with his wisecracks that often lightened the mood while he and his team cracked gruesome cases. It is nearly impossible to imagine DiNozzo not joking around or making movie references, but he may have been a much edgier character without Weatherly's influence.

Weatherly portrayed Tony until he bade farewell to "NCIS" at the end of its 13th season. In "Family First," DiNozzo quits the Major Case Response Team so he can dedicate his time to being a new father, as the episode title suggests. After acting on "NCIS" for over a decade, Weatherly was "ready for a new challenge," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

His most recent role is Dr. Jason Bull

Weatherly has been super lucky since his "Dark Angel" days because he has not had long gaps between major roles in almost two decades. After making his last appearance on "NCIS" in the spring of 2016, he debuted on the CBS legal drama "Bull" in the fall of the same year. Weatherly's character, Dr. Jason Bull, is loosely based on Dr. Phil McGraw, per Deadline. Dr. Bull uses his expertise as a psychologist to analyze the motivations and biases of jurors to ensure his clients have a strong defense at trial. The series premiered its 6th season in October 2021.

The show and Weatherly have been popular with viewers, but both faced controversy in 2018. According to Variety, Weatherly's castmate Eliza Dushku accused him of making unwarranted lewd remarks that made her feel uncomfortable and unsafe on set. The former "Dollhouse" actress was removed from "Bull" and paid a $9.5 million settlement. Weatherly apologized for his inappropriate comments and behavior.