Sean Murray is a familiar face to millions of fans who watch NCIS, the popular crime drama that follows the investigations of a team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Murray plays Timothy McGee, a senior field agent and computer expert who has been with the show since its second season. But did you know that Murray has a special connection to the man who created NCIS? That’s right, Murray is related to Donald Bellisario, the prolific television producer and screenwriter who is behind many hit shows such as Magnum, P.I., Airwolf, Quantum Leap, and JAG. How are they related and what does it mean for their careers? Here’s everything you need to know.
How Sean Murray Became Donald Bellisario’s Stepson
Sean Murray was born in Bethesda, Maryland, to a father who was a retired Navy captain and an Australian mother. He grew up on military bases around the world, but settled in Los Angeles with his mother when he was 15 years old after his parents got divorced. He started acting at a young age and landed roles in movies such as Hocus Pocus and TV shows such as Harts of the West.
Around the same time, his mother, Vivienne Lee, began dating Donald Bellisario, who was already an established TV producer with several successful shows under his belt. Bellisario had been married three times before and had seven children from his previous marriages. He married Vivienne Lee in 1998, making Sean Murray his stepson. According to Fame10, Bellisario inspired Sean Murray and his brother Chad Murray to become very active in the movie industry.
How Sean Murray Got His Role on NCIS
Sean Murray’s relationship with Donald Bellisario may have helped him get his foot in the door, but it didn’t guarantee him a spot on NCIS. In fact, Murray had to audition for the role of Timothy McGee like any other actor. He also had to prove himself to Bellisario, who was known to be a demanding boss. In an interview with The Virgin Islands Daily News, Murray said that Bellisario was 10 times harder on him than anyone else because they were related.
Murray first appeared on NCIS as a guest star in two episodes of the first season. He then became a regular cast member in the second season and has been with the show ever since. He has also appeared in crossover episodes of NCIS spin-offs such as NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Over the years, he has developed a close bond with his co-stars, especially Mark Harmon, who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the leader of the NCIS team.
How Sean Murray Is Not the Only Bellisario on NCIS
Sean Murray is not the only member of the Bellisario family who has worked on NCIS or its spin-offs. Several of his step-siblings have also been involved in the show in various capacities. For example:
- Michael Bellisario, one of Donald’s sons from his second marriage, played Charles “Chip” Sterling, a lab technician who turned out to be a villain, in four episodes of NCIS.
- Troian Bellisario, one of Donald’s daughters from his third marriage, played Sarah McGee, Timothy’s sister, in two episodes of NCIS.
- David Bellisario, one of Donald’s sons from his first marriage, was a producer and director on NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.
- Julie Watson-Bellisario, David’s wife, was an associate producer on NCIS.
How Sean Murray and Donald Bellisario Parted Ways Professionally
In 2007, Donald Bellisario left NCIS as its executive producer and showrunner due to a lawsuit filed by Mark Harmon over creative control issues. Harmon alleged that Bellisario was responsible for long working hours, script delays, and poor management. The lawsuit was settled out of court and Bellisario remained as a consultant on the show until 2017.
Sean Murray stayed on NCIS after his stepfather’s departure and continued to play Timothy McGee. He also became a producer on the show in 2014. He has not worked with Bellisario on any other projects since then.
How Sean Murray and Donald Bellisario Remain Close Personally
Despite their professional split, Sean Murray and Donald Bellisario have maintained a close personal relationship as stepfather and stepson. They often attend family events together and support each other’s endeavors. In 2017, when Bellisario received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Murray was there to celebrate with him along with other members of the Bellisario clan.
Murray has also expressed his gratitude and admiration for Bellisario on social media. In 2018, he tweeted a photo of himself with Bellisario and wrote: “Happy Birthday Don! You are an inspiration to me and so many others. Thank you for everything.” In 2020, he shared another photo of them together and wrote: “Happy Father’s Day to this guy. Love you Don.”
Sean Murray and Donald Bellisario may have different paths in the entertainment industry, but they share a strong bond as family and as colleagues. They are both proud of their achievements and of each other. They are also part of the NCIS legacy that has entertained millions of viewers for almost two decades.