Tom Selleck, star of the CBS hit series Blue Bloods, grew up in suburban Los Angeles, the son of a real estate broker. He had zero interest in acting when he landed a basketball scholarship at the University of Southern California. In an insightful interview with AARP The Magazine, Selleck reveals how he dabbled in TV commercials to help pay the rent and did guest appearances on The Dating Game. Years later, both gigs would lead to his first full-time acting job on the hit show Magnum P.I. In the cover interview, the Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actor also talks about how he stays grounded and living with his wife Jillie Mack out of the spotlight on their working ranch in California.
The following are excerpts from the October/November issue of the AARP The Magazine cover story featuring Tom Selleck, available in homes today and online now at aarp.org/magazine.
On his staying power in the entertainment business:
“The luckiest thing that happened was that I didn’t get a real [acting] job until I was 35. When I was 25 I looked 35, but sounded 15. There are a lot of very good actors who make it as younger leading men but don’t graduate because the audience won’t accept them as grown up.”
On why he was drawn to his current role as Police Commissioner Frank Reagan on the hit CBS drama Blue Bloods:
“The best thing about the Reagans’ family dinner was that it wasn’t The Waltons. The characters argue and are at each other’s throats.”
Tom Selleck stars as Frank Reagan, the police commissioner in New York in ‘Blue Bloods’.
On shaping his character on Magnum P.I.—a Vietnam veteran carving out a new career as a private investigator in Hawaii—and being honored by The Smithsonian Institution:
“I told them, I don’t want to be [ex-con TV detective Jim] Rockford, but I want to do something like that where the guy is fallible. I don’t want to get too emotional, but I am very proud of this. Magnum was recognized as the first show to portray a Vietnam veteran in a positive way.”
On his early thoughts about an acting career:
“I never did school plays. I had no interest.”
On his parents:
“I don’t have any tragic stories of parental rejection. They taught me everything I know. They walked their talk.”
On the pressure of living in the limelight:
“People who seek out fame? I don’t get them. I don’t know whether I can do this [promotional appearances] unless I find a way to do it on my terms.”
On his role as a working rancher:
“I work this ranch every day. I do the grunt jobs because it saves me money. And it’s good for my head. This ranch is a great counterpoint to the acting business. I’m waging war with the tumbleweeds.”
On his enduring relationship with wife Jillie Mack:
“We’re both independent. There’s a lot of yin and yang in us. I’m kind of quiet. She’s got this joie de vivre. I don’t know what our secret is, but we are happy.”
Nearly 30 years after his iconic TV role, ‘Magnum, P.I.,’ Tom Selleck is still one of television’s leading men.