Sean Murray Talks Michael Weatherly Reunion & Tiva Spinoff

Television

For its tribute to the late David McCallum and his character, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, NCIS pulled off quite the surprise: the return of Michael Weatherly as Tony DiNozzo.

It was kept under wraps, besides those who needed to know, and the scene allowed for the show to honor Ducky and reunite Tony with close friends Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen, who co-wrote the episode). It, of course, included a new nickname for McGee (McHurry).

When TV Insider caught up with Murray — lots of fun stuff to come from this chat, but here’s the start! —we asked him about filming that as well as the upcoming Tony and Ziva spinoff with Weatherly and Cote de Pablo.

Michael Weatherly just returned for that fantastic tribute to Ducky and David McCallum, and that episode made me cry. It was so good.

Sean Murray: That was a really good one. And Dietzen helped pen that one. He was one of the writers on that, which absolutely, if anyone should be doing that, it should be him.

Talk about filming that tribute episode as a whole and then also working with Michael again because I loved that little bit at the end.

That was fun, wasn’t it? Yeah, Michael and I and Brian knew we were doing that and obviously some other people, but that was one we kept under wraps for a while. We wanted that to be a good surprise, and hopefully, I think that was. It was a really well-done episode, but it was a hard episode to get through, just having worked with David for 20 years, and it was kind of a mixture of saying goodbye in real life and saying goodbye on camera. It was a tough thing. But I hope we paid a good tribute to the Ducky character, and I know David would’ve been happy with it, I really think, especially with Brian having penned so much of it. And during the episode, we got to see a lot of great scenes that David did, and I think it was good.

And I think that ending moment was just the perfect right amount of old school NCIS levity that you needed. There was just a touch of it. It was a really special thing with Tony coming in and passing the bow tie off to Palmer. I always loved the relationship that Tony and Jimmy have, too, which is funny. He always calls him Autopsy Gremlin, which, anytime Tony nicknames you, it is a term of endearment as far as he goes.

Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer, Michael Weatherly as Anthony DiNozzo and Sean Murray as Special Agent Timothy McGee — 'NCIS'

Sonja Flemming/CBS

But that was a lot of fun to do, and we actually did a lot of different versions of that last scene. The main parts we had down, but as far as once Michael and I would start doing our thing towards the end and go into the elevator, every time we did it, we were talking about something different. They would just let us ad lib—usually with Michael and I, it’s kind of an old fun thing that we do, and they let us do that. Michael is so terrific about that stuff. I know him so well. We’ve got a shorthand, and it’s fun to do. So it was kind of two-headed thing for me. It was a hard episode to get through, it was a special episode to get through, and then having that moment with Weatherly at the end kind of was just a little cherry on top.

I always loved the Tony and McGee relationship throughout the years, starting off where they were and then seeing how that relationship grew.

Absolutely. And that was something that Michael and I were aware of and we really worked on. We were paired up early when I was in Season 1, but I remember us doing some stuff and him going completely off book and basically doing this wild Bill Murray impression from Caddyshack and the whole thing that he was doing. They printed this shot and said, okay, moving on. I just remember going and sitting in the cast chairs with Michael, and Michael turning to me and he goes, “I think I may get fired. I think I may get fired for what I just did.” [Laughs] Because none of it was in the actual script. And then we got word back that they really liked it and to do more of it. So that was kind of a fun thing. And I don’t want to make it sound like everything Michael and I did was not in the script. Of course that’s not the case, but we kind of added and extrapolated onto that stuff and had a lot of fun, and a lot of that made the show in that first decade.

So having Michael back, I mean, Michael is a lifelong friend. I talk to him all the time. Actually, most of the people that have come through the show I’m very, very close with. But Michael is the guy I’ve been extremely close with and I’ve stayed in touch. We talk at least every month or two. And just knowing that this was going to happen was really cool. And we had talked about just, it’s wild because he hadn’t been here in 10 years, and as soon as he stepped on the stage as Tony doing his thing, it was like it warped me right back to the old Tony-McGee stuff. It just reminded me how much fun it was.

And now there’s the upcoming Tony and Ziva spinoff.

What do they call it? Tiva!

Do you think there’s a chance of you popping up on there or them showing up on NCIS in connection to that? To see Tony, McGee, and Ziva together again would be great.

Yeah, it’s very possible, I’ll say that. Especially inside of our franchise, as I’m sure you could guess. And yeah, we like to have fun with some of that stuff, and it’s all in the family, so we’ll see what happens.

NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS



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