Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

To parents Michael Weatherly, Sr., the millionaire exporter best known for introducing the Swiss Army knife to America, and mother Patricia, Weatherly, Jr. was one of six siblings, comfortably raised in Southwest Connecticut's über affluent Fairfield community. When Weatherly announced his plans to quit his last year of college to pursue an acting career, his father threatened to disinherit him completely. When his son willfully accepted the condition, Weatherly, Sr. kept his word, but acknowledged his son's conviction for acting. Armed with his father's blessing, if not his financial protection, Weatherly finally began his career in earnest. Within a year, he landed his very first screen role: a small, but memorable debut in the penultimate episode of the long-running NBC comedy, "The Cosby Show" (NBC, 1984-1992) as Theo Huxtable's new roommate at NYU.Weatherly landed his first role as a series regular in 1992 on the moderately popular soap opera "Loving" (ABC, 1992-95). As the sensitive, brooding heartthrob Cooper Alden, Weatherly quickly became one of the show's major stars, thanks to his mass of swooning female fans. Weatherly stayed on as Alden until the end of show's run. In its final year on the air, "Loving" came back slightly retooled and with a new title, "The City" (ABC, 1995-96), in which Weatherly appeared as the same character on both shows. After "The City" was cancelled, Weatherly received handsome offers from bigger, even better known soaps, but turned them all down. Instead, Weatherly opted to take the oft-tried but rarely successful gamble of trying to make the transition from daytime to primetime.Relocating to Los Angeles in 1998, Weatherly was off to a promising start when he landed a lead role on a new romantic comedy, "Significant Others" (Fox, 1998), co-starring a then-unknown Jennifer Garner. Unfortunately, the show premiered to sketchy ratings which only tanked further with time. After six anemic airings, Fox finally pulled the plug. Luckily, Weatherly managed to rebound by landing a recurring role as Roy, the ex-husband of title character Jesse Warner on the sitcom, "Jesse" (NBC, 1998-2000). One the most hyped shows of the 1998-99 fall season, the short-lived Christina Applegate vehicle was a consistently mediocre show that lasted as long as it did due to its coveted Thursday night, post-"Friends" timeslot. Fortunately for Weatherly, the cancellation of the sitcom spelled bigger things for the actor, both professionally and personally, though he did not know it at the time.In 2000, the actor was cast to co-star on "Dark Angel," a sexy, new high-concept action-drama from director a post-"Titanic" hot James Cameron. Cast as Logan Cale, a paraplegic leader of an underground resistance movement, it was Weatherly's most prominent role to date. The show's star was Jessica Alba, a striking young newcomer starring in her first major role. Though 12 years his junior, Weatherly and Alba promptly fell in love during the filming of the pilot. The two were eventually engaged and would continue their relationship for most of the show's run - a union that delighted both the fans and the press.After a much ballyhooed premiere, the show's impressive ratings began to gradually dip as soon as the early buzz wore down, dropping by nearly a third. Though still respectable for the average show, it simply was not enough to continue justifying its sky-high budget. As the show's first season drew to a close, it became clear to Fox execs that what the network had in its lap was the most expensive cult show on television. Seeing no profit potential in continuing, Fox debated the show's fate well into the summer. Weeks passed without word from Fox about a second season. At this point, executive producer Cameron finally interjected himself into negotiations and assumed the role of 800-pound Gorilla in order to save the show. After dragging their feet for several more days, the network eventually relented and grudgingly renewed "Dark Angel" for a second and most definitely last season.Following the demise of his show and his noteworthy relationship with Alba, things did not bode well for the actor at this delicate time. Yet, once again, Weatherly weathered his personal and professional setbacks, finding the next big thing on the horizon. Hired for a two-episode stint in 2003 on the military law drama, "JAG" (CBS, 1995-2005), the story arc basically served as a springboard for a spin-off. Introduced as the wisecracking Agent Anthony DiNozzo, Weatherly and fellow guest star Mark Harmon established themselves and paved the way for the new show, which kicked off the following fall, entitled "NCIS" (a.k.a. "Naval Criminal Investigative Service") (CBS, 2003-). "NCIS" premiered strongly, thanks to the built-in audience it inherited from "JAG" Not only did "NCIS" manage to maintain almost all of the old "JAG" audience, it actually built on it, surpassing its predecessor in popularity.With what appeared to be a bona fide success under his belt, Weatherly began to look for side projects during what little downtime he had between filming seasons of "NCIS." In a bit of inspired casting he played leading man Robert Wagner in the Hollywood biopic "The Mystery of Natalie Wood" (ABC, 2004), directed by Peter Bogdanovich and starring Justine Waddell as the titular doomed film star. Ironically, the real life Wagner would go on to make several guest turns on "NCIS" as Anthony DiNozzo, Sr., the father of Weatherly's character. As his hit series enjoyed its seventh season, the actor delivered an intense performance as the estranged son of an aging mobster in the little-seen crime drama "Charlie Valentine" (2010). Meanwhile, "NCIS" continued its steady climb in the ratings to become one of the most popular shows on television, although after 13 seasons, Weatherly chose to leave the still-thriving series for a new challenge. Weatherly next joined the series "Bull" in the title role of Dr. Jason Bull, a headstrong young doctor based in part on the early career of series co-creator Phil McGraw.