8 QUESTIONS WITH TOM SELLECK

My moustache works for some characters, says Tom Selleck

Actor Tom Selleck plays a police commissioner in multi-generation police family drama Blue Bloods. -- PHOTO: AXN
Actor Tom Selleck plays a police commissioner in multi-generation police family drama Blue Bloods. -- PHOTO: AXN

Veteran actor Tom Selleck says his famous facial hair has to complement his roles

The mustachioed Tom Selleck is back as a New York City police commissioner on the fourth season of the American cop drama Blue Bloods.

The 69-year-old American actor is not one to get too attached to his trademark facial hair, he says in his booming voice over the phone from his home in California last month.

"I was born without a moustache, I'm used to it with or without. For some characters it works, for some it doesn't. Our boss at CBS felt they wanted a moustache for this character. I thought that was fine once I found that the police commissioner could in fact have one," said Selleck, who is married to British actress Jillie Mack, 56, with whom he has a 25-year-old daughter Hannah.

American TV network CBS produces the Blue Bloods series and had recently renewed the drama for a fifth season. More than 10 million viewers in the United States tune in each week during the competitive Friday night slot.

His Blue Bloods' character Francis "Frank" Reagan is not only in charge of the safety of New York citizens, but is also the head of the Reagan family of police officers.

A regular fixture on the show are the family dinners where the Irish-American Reagans gather around the dining table to discuss work and personal issues.

On the success of Blue Bloods, Selleck draws a parallel between its characters and his breakout role Thomas Magnum, a quirky private investigator in the hit 1980s long-running series Magnum, P.I. The part won him an Emmy in 1984.

He said: "I've done a very successful series in Magnum for eight years. Magnum was a hard show, I was almost in every shot. I got tired from it, but I didn't get tired of it. The reason I didn't get tired of it is because the character was allowed to grow and change and the audience was in on that journey.

"I think Blue Bloods has that same quality. Our characters in the fourth season aren't the same as the first season. As the characters get older and experience things, like a trauma on the street while enforcing the law, those make the characters grow. I think that's what keeps it fresh."

1 These days, a lot of fans like to leave comments about their dramas online. Do you interact with your fans online or read about the comments on the Internet?

I'm not really computer savvy, I'm computer illiterate, I don't do much stuff online, I don't do Facebook, I don't tweet. I get a lot of feedback because people recognise me on the streets.

If I go to the hardware store or the market, I'm going to get people's opinions on what they think of the show.

It's very valuable to me. I'm not an online kind of guy. I know that makes me kind of a dinosaur, but that's just the way it is.

2 The series Blue Bloods is shot in New York. What characteristics of New Yorkers have you incorporated into your Frank Reagan role?

Very often, New Yorkers don't want to pose for a photo, they don't really want an autograph. They want to talk to you. When you walk down the street, they want to say something about your show, what they liked or didn't like. I do like that honesty and I tried to incorporate that in Frank. I think Frank may be too direct, too frank and honest with his opinions, it's gotten him into trouble.

3 How important do you think it is for the show to continue holding those family dinners on Blue Bloods?

I don't think it's a necessity, but I think family getting together is important (to showcase) the interaction of the characters. The interaction of the whole family usually happens late in the show and, by then, the audience knows the secret of what each character is going through.

I think the audience anticipates when certain subjects come up, how the characters are going to react. The most interesting family dinners to me are when there's conflict among the families.

There's always conflict in this Irish-American family where police work is a family business. I think it's a real good combination.

4 You have spent quite a bit of your onscreen life fighting crime with your roles in Blue Bloods and Magnum, P.I. If you were not an actor, would you would have considered a career as a cop?

I was at the University of Southern California Business School where I discovered acting. I had a management training job with United Airlines. Each vacation, I would work either in ticketing or bagging. I don't think I would have ended up being a police officer.

5 People often remember how you missed out on the golden opporunity of starring in the Indiana Jones movie. Do you ever regret not taking on the role?

The part on Indiana Jones, that's ancient history. Yes, I was offered the role. I would have done a good job, I would have done it my way. Harrison Ford created a character. He did it his way and he's kind of indelible in that role and it's his accomplishment.

My only problem is when people say that I turned it down. My bosses who were running Magnum said that I couldn't do it. I would never turn something like that down.

6 On the Late Show With David Letterman, you talked about how Steven Spielberg, who directed the Indiana Jones movie, said that he owes you a part. Will you be using that card anytime soon?

I bet you that Steven Spielberg heard about the show. Next time I bump into him somewhere, I would probably kid him about it or he would kid me about it.

I don't see him all the time, we're just friends and we like each other, something will come up. I don't think I'll ever play the card saying, 'You owe me'.

7 A lot of people have been saying that TV is going through a renaissance. What do you think about that?

As motion pictures spend more and more money on explosions and (making films about) comic books, there is a real demand for interesting characters, relationships and stories that aren't necessarily about things way bigger than life.

I think some of the best work in the industry is on TV. I like blockbusters and I like big movies, but I think all of one thing and no variety is creating a desire to find some variety, and people are finding it more and more in a quality way on TV.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

I'm not ready to be remembered. I obviously want to be remembered for my work. If I ever decide to retire, I hope it's by choice, not because the phone stopped ringing. I would like to be remembered as someone who was a good citizen, who was loved by his family. Family is more important to me than anything else.

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Blue Bloods Season 4 premieres on July 14 at 7.55pm and airs on weekdays on AXN (StarHub TV channel 511).

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