When Eliza Dushku first arrived on CBS’ Bull — back in May 2017, long before documents would surface confirming that she was on track to become a series regular — it was evident that her character could be a keeper. “She was marvelous,” showrunner Glenn Gordon Caron recalled during an interview with TVLine this September. “I think she did a really great job.”
And yet following Dushku’s initial three-episode run as a foil (and now we have learned, eventual romantic interest) for Michael Weatherly’s titular trial scientist, legal eagle J.P. Nunnelly simply disappeared.
As reported this week by the New York Times, a third-party investigation into claims of sexual harassment made against CBS CEO Les Moonves turned up papers showing that during Duskhu’s initial run, she lodged a formal complaint with the network after being on the receiving end of several lewd comments made by Weatherly. Days after Dushku confronted Weatherly himself about his behavior, she was informed that her character was being written out.
Dushku entered into mediation with CBS, which ultimately led to a $9.5 million settlement — the equivalent of what she would’ve earned had she become a full-time cast member for four more seasons, as envisioned.
During a pre-Season 3 interview with Caron, TVLine happened to inquire why Dushku, after being clearly positioned as a new series regular, was never seen again. (TV vet Caron joined Bull as a consultant for those three episodes, before officially being made showrunner for Season 2.)
“I think what we all realized was… the only way to have kept her character in the show, because she is a lawyer, was if her law firm bought Bull’s company, and then you’re really changing the DNA of the whole show,” Caron answered. “There was no way to keep that sort of ‘duet’ working.”
In response to the Times‘ reporting, Weatherly issued a statement saying that upon learning that Dushku “wasn’t comfortable” with his attempts at on-set “humor,” “I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate, and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza.” Weatherly however denies having anything to do with Dushku being written off the show: “It’s my recollection that I didn’t tell anyone how they should do their job regarding the hiring or firing of anybody.”
Caron told TVLine this fall that, regardless of what led to Dushku’s character being scrapped from longterm plans, “I’m very, very, very proud of those three episodes.”