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Sean Murray's life and career: From Hocus Pocus debut to famous family, NCIS feud rumors and private life

The Hollywood actor is known and loved for his portrayal of Special Agent Timothy McGee in NCIS 

Close up of Sean Murray as Timothy McGee© Getty
Megan Bull
TV Writer
January 22, 2024
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Sean Murray has a special brand of magic. Revered for his palpable on-screen presence, the American actor has been spellbinding audiences since 1993, after landing the role of Thackeray Binx in Disney's cult classic, Hocus Pocus

Of course, nowadays, Sean's recognized for another iconic character – Agent Timothy McGee – making him one of the longest-serving members in the NCIS universe. But, whether he's fighting the Sanderson sisters, or solving crimes with Mark Harmon and the gang, Sean's star has always burned bright. 

We're taking a look at the actor's illustrious career and family life. From his early days on NCIS and rumored feud with co-star Wilmer Valderrama, to his famous family and home life in Southern California, here's what you need to know…

Famous family 

Born on November 15, 1977, Sean grew up on several military bases around the world, owing to his father's role as a Navy captain. After living in Australia, Singapore and London as well as numerous States in the US, Sean's parents divorced when he was 15. 

Sean Murray as Special Agent Timothy McGee in NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
Sean's stepfather is television producer and screenwriter Donald P. Bellisario

By 1998, Sean had gained a stepfather with his mother marrying television producer and screenwriter Donald P. Bellisario. Boasting an impressive decade-spanning career, Donald's credits include Magnum, P.I. (1980), Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982), Airwolf (1984), Quantum Leap (1989), JAG (1995), and NCIS (2003). 

patrick j adams troian bellisario golden globes© Photo: Getty Images
The actor's stepsister is Pretty Little Liars actress Troian Bellisario

Through his stepfather, Sean and his brother, Chad W. Murray, also gained seven stepsiblings, including Pretty Little Liars alum Troian Bellisario, and JAG actor, Michael Bellisario. A family affair, Troian and Michael have each joined Sean in NCIS, with his younger brother Chad serving as a producer on NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles

Hocus Pocus debut 

Sean got his big break in 1993 after starring in Disney's Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus. Cast as Thackeray Binx – a 17th-century teen cursed by the Sanderson sisters and forced to wander the earth as a cat – it was the actor's enchanting and heartwarming performance that made him a star. 

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Reflecting on the film's enduring legacy, in 2023 Sean told Entertainment Weekly: "At the time, we were just doing our thing. We didn't know what it would become. It was a bomb when it was first released."

"I was seeing the kids that grew up on Hocus Pocus, they now have kids, and they're showing their kids Hocus Pocus," he added. "It's really cool seeing the second generation discover Hocus Pocus and be like, 'You know what? This is like the greatest Halloween movie ever made.'"

hocus pocus 1
Hocus Pocus became a cult classic and spawned a sequel

While Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy went on to reprise their roles as the Sanderson sisters in Hocus Pocus 2, Sean was noticeably absent from the sequel. "To me, Hocus Pocus is really about those three women, those three witches," he said. "It actually makes total sense to me that you would have a newer group with the witches and not necessarily from the original group. You know, we're all old and wrinkled now. Who wants to see us?"

Sean Murray in Harts of the West© Getty
Sean went on to appear in several TV shows, including Harts of the West, ER and Boston Public

After appearing in the original, Sean was propelled into the spotlight. In the years that followed, he starred in Harts of the West (1994), ER (1995), JAG (1998-2001) and Boston Public (2000), but it wasn't until 2003 that he became a household name. 

NCIS stardom 

One of the longest-serving cast members on NCIS, Sean joined the hit procedural programme in 2003. After signing on for a recurring role, the actor's fan-favorite performance as Special Agent Timothy McGee, saw him promoted to a main cast member in season two. 

"Black Sky"  Torres finds himself in prison as the team tries to stop an impending terror attack on U.S. soil, on the 20th season finale of the CBS Original series NCIS, Monday, May 22 on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on dem© Getty Images
Sean joined the cast of NCIS in 2003

Having featured in over 450 episodes of NCIS, Sean spoke about the show's longevity in 2023. "It's funny, I get asked this question quite a bit, and I always kind of wonder myself. You know, a lot of these procedurals, everyone takes themselves very seriously, it seems. And we have a little more fun," he said. 

Sean Murray, Gary Cole, Brian Dietzen, Katrina Law, and Wilmer Valderrama filming NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
The actor is one of the longest-serving cast members

"The longer we've been around, the longer people have kind of really gotten to know these characters and like these characters, have become very protective of them. And I know people love to say this but I actually mean it: we have a blast on set. We really do. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun, and a lot of us spend time with each other outside of the set. We're all very close friends, and I think that that shows."

Rumored feud with Wilmer Valderrama

The stars of NCIS have had their fair share of feuds. Series lead Mark Harmon famously clashed with Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perette, while Sean was reportedly at loggerheads with Wilmer Valderrama. 

Wilmer Valderrama and Sean Murray as Nick Torres and Timothy McGee© CBS
In 2023 it was reported that Sean and his co-star Wilmer Valderrama were clashing behind the scenes

Currently, neither Sean nor Wilmer have addressed their alleged feud, however, several outlets reported that their working relationship had become tense in 2023. 

With series 21 of NCIS set to premiere on February 12, 2024, it's clear that Sean and Wilmer remain dedicated to the show. So, even if the reports are true, the co-stars aren't letting it interfere with their roles. 

MORE: Meet NCIS star Sean Murray’s family - including famous daughter who starred on the show

READ: Mark Harmon's life and career: From NCIS stardom to on-set feuds, Pam Dawber marriage and incredible act of heroism

Private life with wife and children 

Halloween has played a paramount role in Sean's life. Not only is it the setting for Hocus Pocus, but it also serves as the date that he met his wife, Carrie James. 

WATCH: Meet the real-life partners of the cast of NCIS

During an appearance on the Wedding Dish podcast, Carrie – a former teacher, entrepreneur and activist – revealed that she and Sean had crossed paths at a Halloween party hosted by a mutual friend. A fortuitous first meeting, both Carrie and Sean were newly single at the time, having recently split with their exes.

Sean Murray and wife Carrie at a CBS event in 2016. © Getty
Sean met his wife Carrie in 2004

After falling head over heels for one another, the couple tied the knot on November 26, 2005. They've since welcomed two children – daughter Caitlyn, also known as 'Cay' and son, River – with whom they reside in Southern California. 

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Following in her father's footsteps, Cay has inherited Sean's love of acting, and in 2022, she appeared on NCIS, landing a guest role as computer-savvy teen, Teagan Fields. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about their time on set, Sean recalled: "One of the things I was worried about was the chaos of people on set, everyone coming up, giving you direction, so many different things. 

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"I was like, oh, man, I hope she doesn't get overwhelmed, and Cay took it like a champ," he continued. "She was a total pro. I'm like, I wish I was as cool as she is because she handled it so well. I'm so proud. It's hard to… I'll get choked up."

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