After leaving NCIS in May, Michael Weatherly is back on CBS starring in a new courtroom procedural loosely based on the pre-TV career of Dr. Phil McGraw. “While this isn’t a biographical show,” explains Weatherly, “Phil is an inspiration for a very complex and super-intelligent guy who understands how simple people can be but how tricky it is to find that elegant simplicity.” And McGraw adds with a laugh, “And obviously we’re really kind of twins as far as looks are concerned.”
In Bull, Weatherly plays Dr. Jason Bull, a forensic psychologist who uses his brilliance and charm — along with cutting-edge technology — in the field of trial science. The experts of Dr. Bull’s Trial Analysis Corporation use mock trials, behavioral psychology, cyber intelligence and even personal styling to get inside the minds of jurors and tip the scales of justice in favor of their clients.
We chatted with one of the Executive Producers of Bull as well as the series’ star to get inside the mind of TV’s smartest (and snarkiest) new hero. Here’s what Michael Weatherly had to say…
Michael, what will viewers love about Bull?
Michael Weatherly: I think the show has humor and it has insight into human behavior. You’ll learn all sorts of funny tricks that reveal why we do the things we do, and then most importantly it’s a show about human connection. I think you’re going to feel stuff. It’s a show that has a lot of heart without being schmaltzy and treating everybody like they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s a smart show.
Obviously Dr. Jason Bull is the smartest guy in the room, but how does he use his team to round out his knowledge?
The smartest guy in the room is the guy who hires people smarter than him to do very specific jobs, right? Great leaders, CEOs, and people understand the benefit of not working harder, but smarter. I think that Bull relaxes — he has these experts that he trusts implicitly, so he can relax and look at the big picture. He’s a macro picture guy.
The pilot has a strong father-son storyline. Who could you see being Bull’s father?
Bull’s father — I think that is fascinating. I’d love to see Jack Nicholson. Jack would be pretty fascinating. Let’s see. How about Denzel Washington?
This show has all of the trappings of a great CBS procedural including a lot of great technology. But at the end of the day, the best way to know a mind is the power of another mind. Is that a low-tech response to pulling back on all the great technology that we see in Bull?
I think that you’ve said it great. You have to bring to bear all the assets that you can. All the technology and all the latest, newest stuff so you can build these deep dives, but in the end, the human brain is the most complex technology. We rely on each other. … No man is an island and you can’t know yourself alone. We only know each other in context.
As you build that idea out, we are all the same, ultimately. What is that? — E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. That’s it. I’m not saying we all have to take ayahuasca and look at the universe as one organism. We could, but I think it’s like that. I think that there’s a real confidence in Bull’s mind that he connects to people. He looks for the truth. Sometimes the truth isn’t a set of facts. Sometimes the truth, it’s more difficult, like I said, but simple and elegant thing to grasp.
How does it feel to be back on CBS?
I was off of CBS for about 24 hours and that was a very scary period of time. I was really adrift. [Laughs] It feels great. It’s very natural to me. I love everybody here at the network and the studio. I have my production company there. As I’ve gotten to know everybody up and down the line at CBS over the years, I will say, if Bull has one thing in common with [CBS CEO] Mr. Moonves, it’s that he surrounds himself with incredibly good people.
Bull > CBS > Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT, 8pm CT, beginning Sept. 20