Michael Weatherly Talks ‘NCIS’ Exit: ‘It Seemed Like the Character Had to Go’

Michael Weatherly is finally saying goodbye to Special Agent Tony DiNozzo and his 13-year run on “NCIS” this week. Weatherly spoke with reporters about his exit from the show, and giving closure to the story of Tony and Ziva (Cote de Pablo), which he promised will be an emotional ride for fans.

“Bring a box of whatever you need, bring a change of clothes and call whoever you need to call at work on Wednesday if you’re a big ‘NCIS’ fan, because you might not be able to go to work the next day. You may have flu-like symptoms,” Weatherly joked of the Season 13 finale.

Of Tony’s enduring relationship with Ziva David, the actor previewed that “audiences will feel very strongly that she’s in the episode in a way that might be a little Shakespearean, but it’s real. It’s going to be a very exciting time for the fans.”

In an interview with Extra, Weatherly also teased that “a part of him dies,” adding that in his final episode there is “sudden death.” But whose? Weatherly declined to hint.

At the beginning of his career, Weatherly said he didn’t like the idea of playing the same character over a long period of time, which is ironic considering his long stint on “NCIS.” However, he insisted that DiNozzo wasn’t a stagnant character, so playing an enduring role wasn’t the challenging part of his run.

“What got difficult is it seemed like the character had to go. You can’t be in that No. 2 slot forever. That started to become a constraint to me and that ended up being some of the tension DiNozzo was having on the team,” said the actor. “McGee [Sean Murray] is looking at him going, ‘Will you get out of here, I wanna be No. 2!'”

Weatherly said he hasn’t regretted his decision to exit the show. He’s looking forward to spending more time with his family — especially his kids.

“I think a lot about the kids and the time I get to spend with them now at this age at four and two and a-half which is such a critical time and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “They just have some extraordinary things going on in their life and they have great questions for me about why frogs and crickets make sort of the same sound?”

As for his favorite episode, Weatherly always goes back to the premiere of Season 7, titled “Truth of Consequences.”

“The reason I keep going back to that episode is that it’s well-executed on every level … it was really a primer on what ‘NCIS’ was at that point in time,” he said.

“The story that was unfolding and the way that story got told … if you were a brand new viewer, ‘Truth of Consequences’ would be a great first episode to watch because it really unfolded and revealed all the characters and the dynamics of the show and tonally and everything else it really fired on all cylinders,” he added.

He revealed that he’s taken a few mementos with him from set, including “the sunglasses,” a “crime scene hat,” two beaded German Shepherds and one item he can’t reveal.

“I took one secret thing from the set that I keep with me that I’ll keep with me,” he said. “That’ll be a thing that makes me laugh every time I look at it so it’s a little small memento but and I can’t share it with you just because I don’t want to get anyone in trouble.”

Although his role wasn’t free of challenges, he saw every day as a “grand, fun adventure, even all the way up to my last day — I never got sick of it, I never got tired of it. I always appreciated the gift of the job,” Weatherly said. “But the hardest part of the whole experience was thinking, ‘Oh no, I think it’s time I have to leave.’ That was really the only hard part of the whole experience.”

Weatherly exits “NCIS” on during the Season 13 finale on May 17, but will be back on CBS next season for his newly greenlit series “Bull.”

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