Michael Weatherly has been reigning on the small screen for over twenty years. Discreetly, with professionalism, phlegm and charisma, he managed to lead three leading series: Dark Angel, NCIS and Bull. In the midst of a pandemic, the actor exclusively evokes the filming of the fifth season and talks about his family. Interview with an actor who favors sincerity and humanity.
Bull is a very complex character. Do you feel there is still some mystery to be revealed about his personality?
Michael Weatherly: Bull is mysterious because of his fascination with human behavior. He’s a vampire for behavior – the complex mosaic of motivations and reflexive actions that make up every one of us. It is in high gear with someone like Jason Bull. He’s very conflicted about his megalomaniacal shortcomings, his controlling nature has given him success. There is also an artistic side which reveals and his deep natural empathy.
How different is this fifth season? What are the writers and cast bringing new this time around?
M.W. :Season five is all about living in a world with coronavirus. From the first episode, My Corona, we understand that the world has changed. Interestingly for Bull, he has become a father as well so his world is truly inside out upside down back to front. In the courtroom, Bull is not able to employ his usual tactics, and the jury is even masked during trial. This creates an even greater question of what it is exactly Bull is doing. Luckily, Chunk and Benny are doing great jobs. So Bull watches a lot.
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Bull becomes a dad thanks to his ex-wife – how tricky, challenging and emotional is that situation to play?
M.W. :So here’s the thing about becoming a dad for the first time with your ex-wife, then moving in with her, then the whole world is shut down due to a pandemic. Having a child is difficult all on its own. Having one with your ex-wife, who you clearly got divorced from because there were real problems, can only mean things will get more interesting. I think what we discover in season five is that Bull is older, wiser, more patient and maybe, just maybe, a better husband… to be…?
How is Bull navigating the new reality of the Pandemic and how do you navigate this situation yourself?
M.W. :In the My Corona episode we have a dream sequence with musical numbers where Bull was talking to his double self and crazy stuff: I loved it. Glenn Gordon Caron is responsible for dreaming up all of this and I can take no credit. I will tell you that my mom loved the first episode and said that when it was over, she danced around the room. If you don’t know already, you gotta love my mom.
Are you totally accustomed to living in New York or do you miss California a bit?
M.W. :I don’t live in New York anymore and I don’t live in California anymore – we actually live out in the country now and the kids have trees and grass and lots of wonderful things to experience
that they didn’t have before. Even LA is sort of a place you don’t want the kids riding bikes. So now it’s bicycles and sleds and deer and foxes and cats and dogs and lots of smiles!
You’ve been on primetime TV shows for the last 21 years. What is the secret to such longevity?
M.W. :The longevity in television is about setting realistic expectations for yourself in your career, staying flexible to the needs of the audience and staying curious about the material. You have to be connected to your character. Perhaps most importantly these great amazing, wonderful guest stars that populate every episode. Our casting director on Bull, Kathleen Chopin, is a superstar as was all the casting on NCIS before. We’ve actually had some crossover that always delights me. I truly learn something new every episode from these amazing visiting actors.
How do you balance family and the busy fast paced work schedule?
M.W. :So the way I see this is the first 22 years of my career I was solely focused on work to the unfortunate detriment of every other aspect of my life. There was a long struggle and many hills to climb the first 10 years. Dark Angel changed that. Then things slowly changed with the birth of my two youngest children and our subsequent move back to the East Coast. I am now closer to my father and my mother, my wife is closer to her family in Europe and I now put family before work. That’s a big change for the better.
Can we still expect you to reunite in one way or another onscreen with Cote?
M.W. :It is absolutely my plan, desire, and deepest wish to do more Tony and Ziva with Cote de Pablo someday. I guess we better get on it, because I want to still be able to run after her when we’re chasing bad guys.
How much is music still part of your life? Do you still play the guitar?
M.W. :Yes. I started writing new music during the coronavirus and it was the first time in many years where I completed new songs. One is called “Impossible World,” exploring our present situation. Then another is “Think For Yourself” about clickbait culture and having the patience to look at things with full context. And we are working on getting those recorded soon. I’m working with Casey Hooper and hopefully those will be out this summer.
You are helping the Hanover Parish in Jamaica and did a short movie awarded in 2017 called the Jamaican Man. What is about Jamaica that you feel so close to?
M.W. :I love Jamaica so much in part because I’ve been going there since I was a child and I feel very comfortable there, but also the music, the vibe, the people – it all makes me happy. And the weather and the sea. Those natural elements make me feel different than anywhere else I’ve
been. And I’ve been to Borneo and back. The Hanover charities have been an important area for giving back in Jamaica, and the documentary film I made was really exploring another angle of Jamaica, maybe one that people don’t see much. The film is really a portrait of a very interesting person.
Your wife Bojana is a doctor and you both help bring positive solutions and happiness in people’s lives but in a different way. How could you compare her professional journey to yours?
M.W. :Dr. Weatherly and I have deep work ethics and a shared sense of responsibility when it comes to community and giving back. We have very different backgrounds but the same philosophy about things.
What has been the most unexpected thing you have accomplished, something you never thought you could be capable of so far in your life?
M.W. :Triathlons is the answer – that’s the thing I’m most amazed I ever did
What was the most fun, unexpected, and challenging question one of your kids asked you recently?
M.W. :My daughter wants to know if I’ll ever be skinny again.
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