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Bull's Michael Weatherly On How His Dr. Phil-Inspired Character Differs from NCIS' Tony DiNozzo

And why it's not just an imitation

Megan Vick

The cast and producers of Bull want audiences to know that while the upcoming CBS series was inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil McGraw, it's not an biographical show.

Michael Weatherly, who plays the titular character Jason Bull in the drama series, explained to journalists at the Television Critics Association fall previews on Wednesday that he doesn't see himself playing Dr. Phil at all, and therefore doesn't feel the pressure to imitate the famous daytime host.

"It's not a real person at all. This is a show about people, but there's compressed time frames. There's jumps," he said. "It's storytelling. We're trying to get to the heart of a truth. That's our journey as actors, to try and figure out how to tell this story in a relatable fashion."

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That being said, McGraw is an executive producer on the series and had several discussions with Weatherly about his early career as a legal defense consultant and how to play the character. For the NCIS vet, Bull represents a chance for him to try different things as an actor.

"Bull is a big show with a lot of characters. It's complex. I solve problems the same way as an actor, but it requires a lot of different muscles," Weatherly says. "I wake up every morning and pinch myself that I have this opportunity."

The show may be different, but Weatherly admits that Jason Bull has some similarities to NCIS' Tony DiNozzo as well. "DiNozzo was a guy that sought validation and approval. He was very hungry for that," he said. "Bull is not hungry for that, [but] both characters are fascinated by human behavior."

Bull premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9/8c.

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