Michael, here you are now in Croatia. Is it your first time in our region, bearing in mind that your wife Bojana is Serbian? What do you know about the Balkans and have you managed to learn some words in Serbian?
Da, vaji, dobro, jiveli, odlichno. I was in Serbia for the first time in 2009 and then I was in Montenegro, and then I went back to Belgrade a few times, but I had not been in Croatia until now. My good friend Ivana Milicevic is from Croatia, she’s an actress and she made it clear to me that I must visit, and now I know she is correct. Now, we have to know that Jack Belisario, who created NCIS
, and Magnum PI
and everything, his father, Belisario is Italian, but I believe that his mother was Yugoslavian, so NCIS
comes from… and Caitlin Todd, from season 1 and 2 of NCIS
, I think her mother is Serbian and a former Yugoslavian, so I’m always amazed, you see, running into people and you realize - for instance I worked with Peter Bogdanovic, Bogdanovic is not an Irish name. As I’ve gone around and understood different things, I have a book at my bedside table, it’s called “The Guide to the Serbian Mentality”, so I can understand my wife’s family a little bit better. I have travelled around a little bit now and I understand one thing - all things that we enjoy as human beings on planet Earth were originated in some part of former Yugoslavia. So, coffee, sex, cigarettes, I think that originally cocaine came from former Yugoslavia, but then South America, somehow, and rock and roll HAD to start here right? So I have found that’s a lot of fun, the whole region for me, and discovering it has been a lifelong adventure for me and for me kids, of course - they’re very small but they’re learning all about everything from the Ottoman empire onward, and even before that. If you want to sit with Miroslav, my father-in-law sometimes, he’ll tell you everything.
You are most famous for playing the role of agent Tony DiNozzo on NCIS, a character you played for 13 years. What made you leave one of the most-successful and longest running US series? Do you miss your old team?
Well, I don’t miss it per se, I felt that it was time to move on, because I had kind of aged out of the group that we were in. I think the character himself obviously could get older, but I thought the dynamics of the team and everything, he had been too long enough, and I sort of felt it was important the only way he could leave the group was if I left the show. I don’t want to say I did it for him, but in a strange way I could have. And I’ve been very fortunate to jump into a show like Bull, where I get to play this extraordinarily interesting and multifaceted character, who figures out people every week and figures out a way to solve the crime and satisfy the audience as well. It’s a tricky bit of business trying to make that kind of television. You see how many people try to make shows that fail, so for us to have a success with Bull
has been pretty awesome. I haven’t had a moment’s regret about leaving it, but I would say that maybe there is a future scenario where there some more DiNozzo at some point.
You play the role of Dr. Jason Bull, a trial science expert. Dr. Bull is very good at reading people - did you manage to learn something from him in this respect?
Bull teaches me things the way that he teaches the audience things, for instance when you have a panic attack, you get stuck in this loop, this emotional loop that you can’t get out of, and Bull had a client, who was having serious panic attacks, and he got her to count out of sequence(1, 3, 7, 6, 5 ,2, 8, etc.)
and by getting somebody to repeat the numbers out of sequence, you force them to create new patterns that are logic patterns and it uses the other side of your brain and it jumps you out of this emotional loop. And those little tricks to me on Bull have been a lot of fun to see, and I think done the right way that kind of storytelling is really clever and funny and illuminating about who we are as people and what Bull
calls predictive analysis, behavioral analysis, it really shows itself to be a true thing.
You are the lead character in Bull. Is it more difficult to be the leading man rather than playing the role of one of the sidekicks?
They each have their own interesting complications. Being a Number 2 is easier in the sense that you don’t take the brand of a lot of the political stuff that is happening and everything else. When I was in that position, however, I did take it as my responsibility to be the cheerleader - I took that job very seriously, to be the faithful dog at the side of his master. But being the head dog, so to speak, does mean – well, there’s that old joke about sled dogs which is that if you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes. So being Number 1, there is a different view.
What are your favorite TV series? We are at King's Landing right now, so do you watch Game of Thrones for example?
I have watched Game of Thrones
, but I am saving it for when I have a lot of time and a bottle of nice wine, I’ll sit down and start watching it. I have watched 2 seasons of it and my friend Michelle Maclaren has directed some Game of Thrones
- she also did Breaking Bad
and I have not watched all of it either. I’ve watched quite a bit of it, but I haven’t seen the whole entire series.
What is your opinion about the growing trend of reboots and spinoffs/prequels? NCIS itself is a spinoff of JAG, what is the right recipe for a spinoff to be successful and what series from the past you would like to see rebooted?
Well it’s not a series, but it’s a book that was made into a film, which was made into another film, called Raffles
? I won’t say any more about it, except “Go look up Raffles”
. I think we’re due for some Raffles.