The Significant Difference Between Michael Weatherly & Tony DiNozzo From ‘NCIS’

Though Michael Weatherly left NCIS in 2016, going on to lead an all-new CBS hit procedural, Bull, fans of the actor still see Tony DiNozzo plastered across his new show’s promotional materials. Considering Jason Bull is also quite the comedian, this doesn’t help Weatherly’s case.

Michael Weatherly
Michael Weatherly | Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Michael Weatherly played a wise-cracking Special Agent, boasting a slow-boiling romance with a former Mossad agent, for 13 successful seasons. Tony DiNozzo was Michael Weatherly’s career-catalyzing role; thus, it should come as no surprise that the man and the creation are intimately connected in fan’s minds.

Fans spanning the globe would always say “Michael Weatherly is Tony DiNozzo,” similar to Marvel fans’ insistence that Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man are one and the same. 

If you’ve ever watched or read an interview with Michael Weatherly, he always finds room for a joke, and never lets an opportunity to lovingly pick on a co-star pass him by. Thus, people continue to see Tony DiNozzo when they look at the actor. Weatherly has since explained that NCIS provided the platform needed to explore his natural funny bone, and so he ventured into comedic territory with perfect delivery.

Though Michael Weatherly may be similar to Tony DiNozzo in many ways, he explained that there is one vital difference between himself and the character he embodied for so many years. During an interview with The Futon Critic, Weatherly opened up about one of his personal struggles that DiNozzo does not cope with.

Michael Weatherly is an overthinker; Tony DiNozzo from ‘NCIS’ is not

During an interview with The Futon Critic, Michael Weatherly discussed how he wished to sculpt DiNozzo, in terms of characterization, and the underlying difference existing between himself and the agent. He stated:

“…The difference between me and that character is that I have a tendency to overthink shit to such a degree that I get confused. But he doesn’t. He lives in a very simple Captain Crunch universe. Where it’s like, “that’s good, if they could figure out how to make it not cut the roof of your mouth, Captain Crunch would be the only food you would ever need.” [Laughs.] “You just can’t eat it too much because it really cuts up the roof of your mouth.” He has a very simple worldview, politically I think. He doesn’t have a lot of responsibilities. I don’t think he has parents that are alive. Any sadness that he’s felt in his life I think he’s dealt with in a kind of childlike way. I don’t think he’s learned any of these adult tools that everyone else around him has.”

The Futon Critic 

Tony DiNozzo a “simple” guy, as Weatherly puts it, who hasn’t entered adulthood despite his age. Michael Weatherly’s thought sequences are a lot more complex than DiNozzo. DiNozzo thinks one thing and then acts on that one thing. DiNozzo often does what’s best for DiNozzo. 

On the other hand, Michael Weatherly has a wife and three kids now; he cares about his personal well-being, of course, but also preoccupies himself with his family’s safety and happiness. He’s a little less self-serving and carefree.

How Tony DiNozzo became part of Michael Weatherly’s personality 

When asked if Tony DiNozzo and Michael Weatherly have, in any way, become one, Michael Weatherly stated:

“Very much so. And the people that know me here know a different version of me than is at home because when I’m here – like I had three cups of coffee right before I came here – and we’re going to be here until midnight doing this crime scene. So rehearsal for instance, like I haven’t read what we’re doing today. [Laughs then digs around for the script.] But I don’t have to because Tony is just really excited.”

Michael Weatherly explains that, while on the set of NCIS, he taps into DiNozzo’s mental space, even when the camera isn’t on, and this is the very reason those who worked with him on the series know a man quite polar to the one who sits in the living room with his family.