Michael Weatherly’s life and career: From NCIS stardom to Mark Harmon feud and lawsuit drama

The American actor and musician shot to fame after playing special agent Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS
Michael Weatherly wearing a black suit.

Weatherly, 55, has enjoyed an illustrious career, thanks to his legendary role as Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS. Following a meteoric rise to fame in 2003, the New York native has hit headlines time and time again. From his behind-the-scenes feud with Mark Harmon to his controversial relationship with Jessica Alba, we’re unpacking Michael’s life and career.

Rise to fame

Born in New York on July 8, 1968, Michael spent his childhood in Fairfield, Connecticut, before attending Boston University. After deciding to pursue a career in the performing arts, however, the aspiring actor dropped out of college and began waiting tables in between auditions. In a bid to make ends meet, Michael also busked on the subway.

Michael Weatherly at Monte Carlo Festival© Getty
Michael Weatherly quit college to pursue

Among his earliest roles, Michael appeared in The Cosby ShowSignificant Others, Charmed, and Dark Angel. By 2003, he’d landed his breakthrough role as special agent Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS, catapulting him into the spotlight.

From 2001 to 2003, Michael was engaged to Hollywood actress, Jessica Alba, whom he met on the set of Dark Angel in January 2000. However, with a sizeable age gap between the two, their relationship was highly scrutinized. At the time of their first meeting, Jessica was 18, while Michael had turned 31.

Actor Michael Weatherly and actress Jessica Alba attend the 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on November 4, 2001© Getty
Jessica was 18 when she met Michael in 2000

After a year of dating, Michael popped the question on Jessica’s 20th birthday, but her parents were far from impressed. In 2005 – two years after they’d called it quits – Jessica opened up about their relationship. Speaking to Cosmopolitan, she said: “It’s really, really, really difficult to have the same occupation as the person you’re with—especially when you’re both actors.

“Actors are pulled in so many different directions that unless you both are absolutely into it through thick and thin and completely sure about each other, it’s just hard. I’ve decided I’ll never date an actor again.”

Jessica Alba & Michael Weatherly during "Blue Crush" Premiere at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, © Getty
Following their split in 2003, Jessica said that she never wanted to date an actor again

Asked about the relationship in a later interview, Jessica noted: “I don’t know [why I got engaged]. I was a virgin. He was 12 years older than me. I thought he knew better. My parents weren’t happy. They’re really religious. They believe God wouldn’t allow the Bible to be written if it wasn’t what they are supposed to believe. I’m completely different.”

Bitter feud with co-star Mark Harmon

During his stint on NCIS, Michael found himself at loggerheads with his co-star, Mark Harmon. In 2020 – four years after he’d left the drama – Michael revealed that the two had initially clashed on set.

Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray and Mark Harmon© CBS
Michael clashed with his co-star Mark Harmon

“Mark Harmon and I were on different poles,” he told The Futon Critic. “I was Antarctica, he was the North Pole and we were just looking down there going, ‘What is up with your polarity? What’s going on? The water goes down the drain the other way for me.’”

“He was confused by my presence right from the get-go,” added Michael. “When CNN Showbiz Today or one of those things asked what was the best part about doing the pilot when we were doing the upfronts, I said, ‘I got a rubber gun and I got a fake badge.’

Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly in NCIS© CBS
The actor said that he and Mark were polar opposites

“Harmon looked at me like, ‘That is your CNN answer?’ [Laughs.] And I was like a little kid who had one too many bowls of Count Chocula.”

These days, Michael and Mark have patched up their relationship, and after becoming the lead of the legal drama, Bull, in 2016, Michael was “illuminated” and finally understood Mark’s stance on the show.

“It’s been very illuminating and given me a great deal of insight and regard for what Mark Harmon was doing all those years,” he said. “When I was like, ‘How come he doesn’t have as much fun as the rest of us?’”

Family life

Michael has been married twice. In 1995, the actor wed his Loving and The City co-star Amelia Heinle, with whom he shares a son, August, born in 1996. After two years together, the couple called it quits, finalizing their divorce in 1997.

Michael Weatherly and Amelia Heinle's promotional photo for Loving © Getty
Michael was married to Amelia Heinle from 1995 to 1997

After relationships with Rachel Hunter and Jessica Alba, Michael eventually found love with award-winning doctor, Bojana Jankovic. The actor first laid eyes on Bojana in a bar in Vancouver in 2007.

ncis michael weatherly wife© Photo: Getty Images
Michael met his wife Bojana Jankovic in 2007

“I kept looking out of the corner of my eye and seeing this ravishing, gorgeous beauty,” he told People in 2010. “We made eye contact. And that was it.”

Immediately besotted with Bojana, after their first meeting, Michael made a grand gesture,  flying to Paris to take her on their first date after she revealed she was going on vacation with friends.

Michael Weatherly with his partner and two children© Instagram
Michael and Bojana with their children Liam and Olivia

After a two-year long-distance relationship, the couple wed in 2009 and have been going strong ever since. They’ve since welcomed a son, Liam, and daughter, Olivia. “My kids and my marriage are the things I’m proudest of,” Michael gushed to People in 2017. “I don’t bring my work home. I’m a single-track-mind person, so at work I do my work, but at home, I’m devoted to my kids. Acting has given me a way of understanding myself. It’s made me a better person.”

Leaving NCIS

After 13 years, Michael decided to leave NCIS in 2016. Speaking to TV Insider at the time, he revealed that his decision had been two and half years in the making.

Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherly and Mark Harmon

Explaining how his co-star Cote de Pablo’s exit had influenced his own, Michael said: “[Tony and Ziva’s] great dynamic, the badinage and sparring and flirting between those two characters and how they would swing from siblings to near lovers and back to buddies, that was gone. Then I got to the point where I felt I’d stayed at the party for too long.”

WATCH: Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo says his goodbyes to the NCIS team

A devoted father, Michael also attributed his departure to a desire to spend more time with his children. In a 2016 interview with People Magazine, he admitted: “I think a lot about the kids and the time I get to spend with them now, at this age of four and two-and-a-half, which is such a critical time.”

Bull lawsuit

In 2018, Michael was accused of sexually harassing his Bull co-star, Eliza Dushku, on set. Speaking in front of a House Judiciary Committee, the actress explained that she was fired by CBS, after speaking to Michael – who was also a producer on the show – about his behaviour.

Michael Weatherly and Eliza Dushku in Bull

Eliza – famed for her roles in Bring It On and True Lies – alleged that Michael had made “crude, sexualised, and lewd verbal assaults” during her first week on set. “I suffered near-constant sexual harassment from my co-star. This was beyond anything I had experienced in my 30-year career,” she recalled. After entering mediation CBS agreed to pay Eliza $9.5 million.

Michael Weatherly in NCIS

Issuing an official apology in an email to The Times, Michael said: “During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script,” he began.

“When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.”

Music career

Nowadays, Michael has turned his attention to his music career and is currently collaborating with producer and guitarist, Casey Hooper, on a new album. Casey also happens to be the husband of Michael’s niece and Virgin River star, Alexandra Breckenridge.

In a recent update on X, formerly known as Twitter, Michael gave fans a teaser of what’s to come. “Happy New Year… and a song snippet while enjoying the piano on this 1st day of 2024! It was hot out-,” he captioned the clip.

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