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Tony & Ziva’ Stars Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo on Trust

Paramount’s upcoming action-packed show “NCIS: Tony & Ziva” will have issues of trust at its core, stars Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo said at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, where the “NCIS” franchise is celebrating reaching 1,000 episodes.

The series, set to stream on Paramount+, focuses on their “NCIS” characters, Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David, after they have left the agency, and are bringing up their daughter, Tali, in Paris. When Tony’s security company is attacked, they must go on the run across Europe, try to figure out who is after them and maybe even learn to trust each other again so that they can finally have their unconventional happily ever after.

In “NCIS,” Ziva was thought to have died, and Tony left the team to go raise Tali. Years later, Ziva was discovered alive. How did that affect her relationship with Tony and Tali?

Speaking at a Monte-Carlo press event Saturday, De Pablo explained they had joked that the title for the show should be “NCIS: Trust No One.” “I think the idea of trust, and the idea of how this relationship moves forward is something that was intriguing to us as actors,” she added. “We’re trying to address the idea of trust and we’re trying to address how they move forward parenting together with this child and trying to make things work and having a lot of challenges thrown at them.”

Weatherly added that for Tali what happened with her mom would be tough to accept. “When you think about Tali, who is really the third character in ‘Tony & Ziva,’ the idea for her to think that her mother was dead, and then her mother is alive, but was running around the world and didn’t come home to protect her … Trust doesn’t mean truth, doesn’t mean honesty. Just because I’m telling you the truth doesn’t mean you can trust me. And I think that a lot of the relationships inside … I won’t give away anything […] You have a daughter who’s going to question the story. ‘No dad – you told me she was dead, and she just walked through the door.’ ‘Yeah, but your mom had reasons …’ ‘No, no, no. The facts are the facts.’

“And then what are your relationships like? Where do you stand with the truth? And who do you trust? I mean, these are like the core principles of the show.”

De Pablo and Weatherly will serve as executive producers on the show, which reunites them on screen for the first time in 10 years. John McNamara (“Trumbo,” “The Magicians”) wrote the premiere episode and will serve as showrunner and an executive producer, alongside Laurie Lieser, Christina Strain and Shelley Meals. The series will be distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

The show, which has received a 10-episode order, will be shot in Europe later this year. “Tony and Ziva live in Paris, and we will be shooting in Budapest, because the Olympics are in Paris right now and that would be complicated,” Weatherly said. “But the show will have a lot of international locations that we will reveal later, and international casting that is going to be absolutely stellar. We’re a part of that as executive producers.”

Shooting outside the U.S. was always a priority for the pair, even though they thought the studio would want it to be set in the States, Chicago for example. “At the beginning, I was very adamant about that, like, ‘No, I’m not interested if that’s where they want to go,’” De Pablo said. “I really think the show should be taken out of the United States. It would separate us from the agency, and it would give us a chance to sort of reinvent it in a completely different way, from a different standpoint.”

Weatherly said it took the studio a while to come around to the idea. “It took some time to get them completely there because it is such a departure. It’s streaming. It’s not an evergreen procedural. It’s not structured the same way. Will the audience show up for that? Are we shooting out of our weight class here with a different kind of story? Is it not going to feel like the other show? All of those troubles. And John is not from the ‘NCIS’ universe. So we’re introducing a new voice. And I think those things that might a few years ago have been to our detriment became assets when people started really understanding streaming, and really understanding Paramount+ as a platform.”

He explained that viewers who discover “Tony & Ziva” will then be able to explore the 1,000 episodes in the “NCIS” universe, which encompasses the mothership as well as spinoffs like “NCIS: Sydney,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: Hawai’i” and “NCIS: New Orleans.”

He added: “I think that we’re going to be bringing people into a world that might feel small, because it’s just Tony, Tali and Ziva. But it’s Europe. It’s love. It’s the universe. And we have to save those things.”

Talking about their relationship, De Pablo said: “You know what I’ve always said about working with Michael is it’s always refreshingly unpredictable. I think he also likes my … you know, the fact that I love to play. Even though sometimes I come across as very, sort of, put together, my favourite thing is to go into kid land and play. I think we relate on that level. We are both, at our core, kids. We love playing. I respect the boundaries and the structure of that. He has a tougher time with the structure and the boundaries. But at the end of the day, we both like to play.”

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