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Tony DiNozzo’s apartment made its debut on tonight’s episode of NCIS, and it was quite the classy place for a guy who once prided himself on his frat boy-like behavior.
But as star Michael Weatherly and executive producer Mark Horowitz explain in this exclusive look behind the scenes, a lot of thought went into making Tony’s humble abode and every detail had a purpose and a message. “You might think he has movie posters and is a slob, but what we come to learn as we open the door, is that he has quite an elegant apartment. It’s rather beautiful with some well-selected — but maybe not particularly expensive — pieces of furniture. And it’s rather neat,” says Horowitz. “It’s a beautiful space. Everyone who walked on that set after it was built and furnished said they’d move in there in a minute.”
Weatherly echos the compliments, adding: “Production really put their thinking caps on with this on…I think there’s something great about DiNozzi going back to this apartment that’s waiting for a family, and yet, he’s making it impossible for himself to do that. The apartment is kind of like Tony himself; it has all this potential and all this great stuff going on, but then it just stops short of the mark.”
Tony DiNozzo sleeps on a twin bed. Yes, a twin bed. And while shocking that the ladies man has never actually brought a lady home (he only goes to their places), Weatherly says, his unfriendly sleeping set up sends a clear message. “It’s an impediment to any kind of expanding the brand of Tony. He’s not inviting anyone else to share that with him,” he says. “It’s a lonely image — but it’s also a very funny image.” (In fact, he shares, co-star Pauley Perrette “laughed for, I think, 15 minutes.”)
But does Weatherly view Tony’s way of living as a sign that Tony never wants a family? Not exactly. “It’s not that I think he doesn’t want it, it’s just that he doesn’t want to drag anyone into his mess,” he says. “He’s built some very high walls around this secret garden, and it’s gotta be some sort of self sabatoge.”
Whose brilliant idea was it to have Tony’s only living companion be a goldfish named after his dead partner? Surprisingly, it was two superfans who came up with the Easter egg! “We had two 13-year-old girls on set one day visiting, and I said, ‘Don’t you think Tony should have a pet?’…and the girls said, ‘Oh, yeah. It’s good if he has someone to talk to.’” explains Weatherly. But as soon as they had landed on an easily maintained pet goldfish, the next challenge was to name it. When the girls came up with “Kate,” it was too perfect to pass up. “So we made it so,” he says.
Tony’s musical talents have been seen at various times throughout the series, but placing instruments in the area seemed like a good way to drive the point home, says Horowitz. “We’ve established in previous episodes that he plays [instruments],” he says. “But it gives you a feel as you walk in…that this is a guy who is a little more complicated and sophisticated than he lets on.”
While staying over, DiNozzo Sr. sees first hand his son’s dedication to the single life — limited dishes, one nightstand, etc. And Horowitz admits his own experience with the single man lifestyle enabled him to communicate the message properly. “I was a single man for a long time and I lived very much like this for a number of years,” he says, laughing. “I remember having a girlfriend once went to buy a new bedroom set, and I looked at her and said, ‘Why would you get two [nightstands]?’ It didn’t even make sense to me. So that’s the theme that runs through this. He’s a single man and, really, getting married really isn’t in his plans.” And as fans saw in the episode, Tony’s father (Robert Wagner), feels personally responsible for his son’s views on marriage. “[Tony] has seen what’s happened to his father, and he doesn’t want to emulate that lifestyle. So this is the path that he has set for himself and his environment reflects that.”
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