“Cote De Pablo Thought This NCIS Star Tried To Kill Her Ziva David Casting “


They might get along like birds of a feather these days, but once upon a time, Cote de Pablo thought Michael Weatherly tried to torpedo her “NCIS” audition. Recalling her audition process during the first episode of their new podcast, “Off Duty: An NCIS Rewatch,” de Pablo said Weatherly took her off her game with an improvisation.

“All of a sudden, I meet you and I had no idea who Michael was or who Tony was, but we start doing the scene.,” she said. “And halfway through the scene… the infamous moment when you go off script and you sort of touch my face and you go, ‘Oh, you’re so pretty. You remind me of Salma Hayek.'” De Pablo took this as a challenge, to say the least. “At that moment, I clocked something, and I was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s trying to sabotage my audition.’ And I immediately perked up, and there was a moment there where it was Rage Against the Machine,” she continued.

This caused de Pablo — who had already entered the room with a stern and serious attitude that she believed befits Ziva David’s tragic backstory — to take Weatherly’s presumptive flirtation as a challenge, especially when other people in the room began to laugh at her reaction. Weatherly explained that he was simply doing what Tony DiNozzo — movie buff extraordinaire — would do in that particular situation. “I was looking for a way in that scene because you were so different in your approach already coming into the scene than the prior audition,” he confessed. Since they didn’t know each other then — and de Pablo had no idea who Tony was as a character — things got off to an awkward start.

Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly have since straightened things out

Naturally, Cote de Pablo not only got a callback for the part of Ziva David, but she also nailed the role. It turns out that some of Michael Weatherly’s own insecurities may have gotten between them during the audition process. Reporting that he’d devoted himself to his job and to “NCIS” after the first season, he says he took the job over-seriously and knew little about de Pablo at the time, accidentally creating an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Weatherly confessed that he was also very confused as to why Mark Harmon was reading these actresses for the audition, especially when he was called in to test de Pablo during his vacation. “I’m No. 3 on the f***ing call sheet, what am I doing coming here on my off day?” he recalled. Yet both actors immediately recognized the spark of chemistry that bloomed between them at the audition — one that would plant the seeds for Tony and Ziva’s legendary romance.  “I thought ‘she hates me, but they like it. I wonder, I wonder,'” Weatherly continued.

Eventually, executive producer Don Bellisario asked de Pablo to redo the scene but instructed her to laugh at Weatherly’s jokes. That gesture serves to puncture Tony’s sarcasm — and prepares the audience for one of the strangest but best-loved relationships in “NCIS” history. Bellasario gave de Pablo the part before she could leave in a cab — and she and Weatherly bonded during their ride home. The rest is ongoing history as soon, audiences will get to catch up with the deadly duo with the Paramount+ series “NCIS: Tony and Ziva.”