After 13 years of playing Tony DiNozzo on NCIS, Michael Weatherly is moving on to the new CBS series Bull. He is set to play the titular character Jason Bull on the rookie legal drama which is based on the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw as the head of a company that analyzes juries to help develop defense strategies. While most of his fans would probably compare his new character to the infamous role that made him a household name, Weatherly points out their differences.

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“DiNozzo was a guy that sought validation and approval. He was very hungry for that,” Weatherly said at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Wednesday. “Bull is not hungry for that, [but] both characters are fascinated by human behavior.” 

Weatherly announced his departure from NCIS in January, revealing that season 13 would be his last. In March, it was reported that he would be remaining in the CBS family as he joins a new drama pilot for the network.

“It came about at the right time. I was burnt out by NCIS and I was ready for a new challenge,” Weatherly said. “Sometimes change is as good as a rest.” 

According to Weatherly, he doesn’t see himself playing Dr. Phil and as a result doesn’t feel the pressure to emulate the famous daytime host.

“It’s not a real person at all. This is a show about people, but there’s compressed time frames. There’s jumps,” the actor revealed. “It’s storytelling. We’re trying to get to the heart of a truth. That’s our journey as actors, to try and figure out how to tell this story in a relatable fashion.” 

Bull is a big show with a lot of characters. It’s complex. I solve problems the same way as an actor, but it requires a lot of different muscles,” he added. “I wake up every morning and pinch myself that I have this opportunity.” 

As for the real Dr. Phil McGraw, he insists that the show is not autobiographical and reveals he couldn’t be happier with Weatherly’s casting. 

“It’s just an absolute home run,” McGraw said of Weatherly playing the lead.

“It’s not an autobiographical, it’s ‘inspired by.’ I like the way the show tracks how we did the right thing and tried to take the higher moral ground in these cases. We kept the moral compass. Sometimes the law doesn’t always get it right,” said McGraw.

Bull premieres Tuesday, September 20 at 9/8c on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Dean Bextor

Staff Writer, BuddyTV