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Inside Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo's adorable friendship ahead of NCIS: Europe

The duo got off to a rocky start before becoming close friends 

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo pose together at an event in 2010© Getty
Megan Bull
TV Writer
March 17, 2024
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Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo will reunite in a new spin-off series, nicknamed NCIS: Europe. After co-starring on the flagship show for eight years, the duo – who became close friends on set – are gearing up to reprise their roles as power couple Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David. 

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo on NCIS© Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images
Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo are set to reprise their roles in an NCIS spin-off series

So, what can fans expect? The upcoming series will find their characters living in Paris, where they've spent the past few years raising their daughter, Tali. But when Tony's security company is attacked, the couple are forced to go on the run across Europe, trying to work out who's after them while learning to trust one another again.

For Michael and Cote, the decision to reunite was an easy one, especially as they'd been talking about the story for "many years." With NCIS: Europe in development, we're exploring the killer duo's long-standing friendship, and as it turns out, it didn't get off to a great start…

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo at the 2010 Monte Carlo TV Festival© Getty
The duo initially clashed before becoming close friends

Speaking to Deadline in 2016, Michael recalled their first meeting. "I remember so vividly the screen test with Cote," he said. "I just remember her cold stare. She just loathed me instantly — and I mean Michael Weatherly — but we quickly became very close friends."

Cote echoed this sentiment in a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Michael and I clicked immediately. We sort of hated each other immediately, and loved each other immediately," she said. "I walked into the audition and he thought, 'Oh my god, she's gonna be so hard to work with. She's so complicated.' And I thought, 'This guy's so incredibly unprofessional.' 

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo hug at the Monte Carlo TV Festival in 2010© Getty
The pair eventually bonded over their differences

"During the audition, he grabbed my hair. He would not follow the lines. He totally went off script and started improvising, and this was my final audition with the heads of CBS. I thought, 'This guy is sabotaging my audition.' So immediately I went, 'Oh, I'm gonna show this guy. I'm gonna show him.'

"So he tried touching me, and I literally like [mimes slapping his hand away]. That relationship was established the moment that we met. Nothing changed, it was just enhanced. And we loved each other as well. We realized we're so drastically different and so much alike that there was an immediate attraction." 

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo in NCIS© Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images
Michael and Cote have never dated

During their time on NCIS, fans hoped for a real-life romance between Michael and Cote, but in reality, they're just really good friends. In a 2019 interview, the Tony Dinozzo actor revealed that Cote had even met and bonded with his wife, Bojana Jankovic

"I mean Cote will tell you you're wrong the minute you're wrong," he began "She calls me Shetty. She's like, 'Shetty, I know you think you're right but you're wrong.' "She and my wife get along very well, of course, because they both know that I'm wrong all the time."

Cote de Pablo as NCIS Special Agent Ziva David and Michael Weatherly as NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS© Sonja Flemming/CBS
Cote decided to leave NCIS in 2013, with Michael following in 2016

After leaning into Tony and Ziva's will-they-won't-they dynamic for eight years, Cote decided to leave NCIS in 2013. Initially, the actress kept the reasons behind her exit vague, but in 2016, she admitted, "Unfortunately because of political things and scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS].

"They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I didn't think it was fair. I told them until someone can write something really fantastic for Ziva I won't come back."

MORE: Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo's NCIS spin-off: All we know about NCIS: Europe

READ: Michael Weatherly teases 'more surprises' amid NCIS Tony and Ziva spin-off - details

Following Cote's departure in 2013, Michael eventually followed suit, explaining that he missed the on-screen dynamic between their characters. Speaking to TV Insider in 2016, he said: "[Tony and Ziva's] great dynamic, the badinage and sparring and flirting between those two characters and how they would swing from siblings to near lovers and back to buddies, that was gone. Then I got to the point where I felt I'd stayed at the party for too long."

Michael Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo says his goodbyes to the NCIS team

Now, ready to return in NCIS: Europe, Michael and Cote couldn't be more excited to collaborate again. "We've been talking about this story for many years, and now with John McNamara at the helm, we are ready," they said in a joint statement. 

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo at a 2013 CBS event© Getty
Michael and Cote have been talking about NCIS: Europe for years

"The world of Tony and Ziva (and daughter Tali) promises to be an action-packed roller coaster fueled by love, danger, tears and laughter. We also want to acknowledge and thank the fans from around the world who supported the 'Tiva' movement for years. 

"To this day, they say hello in grocery stores and on the street to tell us how much these characters mean to them and ask what Tony and Ziva are up to now. This is for you!"

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