Michael Weatherly Left 'NCIS' Only to Encounter a Sexual Harassment Case
Over the past two years, several favorite actors of long-running "NCIS" left the show one by one. For Michael Weatherly, he faced new challenges as he pursued his new role.
The 50-year-old followed co-stars Pauley Perrette and Cote de Pablo, who played Abby Sciuto and Ziva David respectively. De Pablo left in 2013 while Perrette moved on from the show in 2016.
Weatherly soon followed suit. All the actors had worked on the show "NCIS: New Orleans" regularly for over a decade. Each had a different reason for their departure, but Weatherly's is not well known.
Why Weatherly left "NCIS"
The father of three spoke to Hollywood Reporter about his decision to leave the beloved crime drama show for another series. Unlike Perrette, he was especially considerate towards fans and ensured he gave writers time to deal with his character, Tony DiNozzo.
He further explained:
“I was burnt out by 'NCIS' and I was ready for a new challenge. Sometimes change is as good as a rest.”
DiNozzo acknowledged the fact that the popular show was a challenge to resign from. He said that people wouldn't believe he was leaving because the show was number one worldwide in viewership.
The actor called himself a "maniac" for making the decision, but he stuck to it and went on to star on the CBS legal drama, "Bull." There, he plays Jason Bull, the leader of a company who works to sort out effective defense strategies.
Weatherly being accused of being more than a bully
The show is based around Dr. Phil McGraw and his early days as the head of a well-known trial consulting service. "Bull" is now in its fourth season, so clearly Weatherly made a pretty good choice switching things up in his career.
However, he's recently had to face a tough legal battle as a result of sexual harassment allegations made by actress Eliza Dushku. The former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star claimed Weatherly, who is 6' 2" made inappropriate comments to her at some point in 2016.
That year, Dushku made appearances in three episodes of "Bull," and believed she would end up as a regular on the series. Things changed with the hiring of Glen Gordon Caron as showrunner.
Dushku accused and Perrette defended
Dushku later claimed that Weatherly commented on her appearance, joked about rape, and said something regarding a threesome. She was subsequently put into a recurring character role as opposed to becoming a regular.
The 38-year-old actress rejected the offer, leading to a total write-out from "Bull." She went on to file a retaliation complaint, earning herself a $9.5 million settlement.
The news came to light in late 2018, prompting reporters to question Weatherly about what had happened. His former co-star Perrette soon came to his defense.
She shared a photo of her and Weatherly smiling at the camera with the caption:
"This man... I love, respect, trust, and I KNOW. TWO decades of friendship and respect. The best. I love you @M_Weatherly Always and forever."
An admission from Weatherly
Weatherly did reportedly admit that he joked around with Dushku but said he was "mortified" to learn that they offended her. In an alleged statement to the New York Times, he wrote:
"During the course of taping our show, I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script. 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."
Weatherly expressed remorse at his actions:
"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."
Reminiscent of "Me Too" Movement
Weatherly's situation immediately draws one to think of the Me Too Movement: an effort made by women to help those who have suffered sexual harassment and are afraid to speak up about it or been persecuted for doing so.
The movement, while admirable, has been criticized for turning into something that hinders men from making any joke and being unreasonably accused of hurting women either verbally or physically.
Past and current "Me Too" cases
The phrase "Me Too" was coined by Tarana Burke, a sexual assault survivor, back in 2006. It rose in popularity via social media in 2017, when entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault by several women.
In Weatherly's case, there's no physical violence to consider, but rather a he-said-she-said case that leaves judgment to each individual's subjective opinion.
Since Dushku signed a non-disclosure agreement along with her settlement, we'll most likely never know exactly what "jokes" Weatherly made, but at least he apologized publicly. That may or may not be a telling action on his part though.
Family life and net worth
Meanwhile, Weatherly is busy enjoying family life with his wife and kids as he continues to build more success on "Bull." The star, who has a reported net worth of $45 million, has been married to Bojana Jankovic since 2007 and the couple now has two children – Olivia and Liam both seven.
Prior to his long-lasting marriage, Weatherly was wed to Amelia Heinle between 1995 and 1997. The two share one 23-year-old son named August. Weatherly went on to date Jessica Alba for two years before they split.
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