Tom Selleck on Blue Bloods

US actor fills us in on cop drama

Interview, Time In
Interview, Time In
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Veteran US actor and facial hair ambassador Tom Selleck is perhaps better known for his outstanding moustache than his acting. The 67-year-old cut his teeth in the ’80s as private investigator Magnum P.I. (which earned him an Emmy in 1984), and later featured alongside Ted Danson in feel-good flick Three Men and a Baby and sequel Three Men and a Little Lady. But since then, Selleck has been lying low on the scene (bar his lead role in a 2010 series of detective-based TV movies entitled Jesse Stone, and a role in Friends).

Now, the man with the world’s best ’tache is back on set as a police commissioner and the patriarch of the all-cop Reagan family in Blue Bloods, currently airing on MBC Action. Starring Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan, the drama delves into the lives of widower Frank Reagan and his adult children, who all work in the same industry: crime crackdown. Here he dishes the dirt on what to expect.

Why did you decide to do the show?
The determining factor was the nature of the character I was going to play. I hadn’t made up my mind, but then Donnie and Bridget came on, and Will Estes and Len Cariou – I knew they were going to take up an actors’ approach in a character-driven show, and that’s where my appetites are. We have a police procedure in our show, but it all relates to the character – usually by about the third act they all bring whatever problems they have and the audience is in on it. Sunday dinner at the Reagan house is always one of my favourite scenes in each episode – it seems to be a favourite with the audience too.

What are the benefits of shooting on the streets of New York City?
It’s obviously a huge bonus, and CBS stepped up in a very big way because it’s more expensive to shoot on the streets. We’ve tried not to waste that opportunity. You see a lot of New York in our show and it’s obvious. I think that makes it a central character.

How much credit does the ensemble cast deserve for the show’s success?
It takes good actors to get a sense of relationship that quickly. We all happened to like each other, and that doesn’t always happen in a series. I’ll sit at that patriarch’s chair in between takes during a family dinner scene and I look around the table and think: This is why the show succeeds. It’s a table full of people grounded in the acting craft and their approach is about the work, not about other nonsense.

How central to the show is your character, Frank?
My character came up through the ranks. He was a beat cop. He’s a blue-collared guy at heart, no matter what he’s learned and no matter what school he’s been to. And I think he stepped up into a job out of a sense of duty because the position needed to be filled, and he’s very popular with the rank and the police force. I’m not sure he doesn’t miss being a cop. And I don’t see him running for office. I don’t see him doing anything. He’ll be the police commissioner. That’s why he wears his uniform.

What kind of audience is the show aimed at?
It’s definitely a show for adults. When we say family drama, it’s an adult family drama and I think the subjects are appropriate. The structure of the show is very clever because you see this police drama, and you see what each character is going through in their jobs in the family business. And then somewhere in the third act, they’re all going to get together. The audience shares the secret – if that character seems a little on edge at dinner, they know why. That’s a great thing for audiences: to get them involved in individual characters.

Does working hard on TV involve making sacrifices at home?
I lost a couple of dogs while I’ve been in New York. They were just getting old anyway and I wasn’t there when we lost them. So you know, you just make trade-offs. My daughter is riding horses competitively, jumping very big fences in world-class competition. I don’t get to see enough of that. So there are trade-offs, but it was worth travelling from California to New York just for what it gives our show.

Blue Bloods airs every Wednesday at 11pm on MBC Action.

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