Mustaches, 'Magnum,' and the Meaning of Avocados: The 11 Big Questions for Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck on "Jesse Stone"
There are few television stars to whom the word "iconic" applies as comfortably as it does to Tom Selleck. Since dominating the prime-time airwaves throughout the 1980s as the title character of "Magnum, P.I.," Selleck has appeared in a host of beloved roles — from his show-stealing part on "Friends" to his ongoing portrayal of the hard-driving Frank Reagan in "Blue Bloods."
Since 2005, he has been involved in one of the most interesting detective roles in television, appearing as author Robert Parker's troubled New England cop Jesse Stone in eight full-length films. We spoke to Selleck by phone about the release of the complete "Jesse Stone" collection on DVD, a life spent fighting crime, the Magnum legacy, and of course, the ever-present weight of bearing what is perhaps the world's most famous mustache.
1. Let's start with the inevitable question for the world's leading expert: What makes a great mustache?
Well, it means something about the success of "Magnum." Probably, if you look at the body of my work before "Magnum," and during, and me since birth, most of the time, I haven't had one. I just kind of grew it, and then, what happens is that it takes on a ridiculous amount of importance. When "Blue Bloods" started, I said, "You know, he's a New York City police commissioner. What do you guys think about me playing the character without a mustache because I'd like to change a little bit?" and they said, "Well, we think that's an interesting idea." I said, "You'd better check with CBS," and word came back within a day, "No way."
[Photos: Great TV Mustaches]
2. Were they trying to hire the mustache?
I like to think that Frank Reagan on "Blue Bloods" is more than just a mustache. I also have to be very careful about speaking about my mustache because we had a falling out, and he's got his own agent now. He's with Facial Hair Unlimited, and he speaks for himself, and I can get in legal troubles.
Get a sneak peek of the next episode of "Blue Bloods":
3. So what makes a great detective?
You know, I'm not sure. A great detective, I think for novels and for films, is a character that's compelling and interesting enough that you want to see a story told through their eyes. Robert Parker created a terrific one with Jesse Stone. The first book of his that I read was "Stone Cold," and I just said, "I've got to play this guy." Robert Parker, like Elmore Leonard — their dialogue kind of lifts right off the page. Usually, you have to kind of redo it because it's a different medium, but I just really wanted to play Jesse from the moment I saw him, and I've been lucky enough in my career that the things I'm attracted to, the audience seems to want to see me in. That doesn't always happen that way.