A Star Returns
After years of battling rumors and bad scripts, Tom Selleck, the former Star of Magnum, P.I., is poised for a comeback.
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Winter 95/96
He doesn't look like Magnum anymore.
Tom Selleck, 50 years old, emerges from the breakfast room at the elegant Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side, right hand extended in greeting. His hair is shorter and thinner, his forehead higher, his smiling face broader, his wrinkles more prominent, his hips, well, just a little wider. He is six-foot-four, but somehow this day he seems not quite that tall.
Yet, the moment you meet him, you know: He still has the aura, the charisma, the special feeling of a star.
It has been seven years since "Magnum, P.I."--that hugely successful TV series with its lanky, courageous and yet somehow quintessentially goofy Hawaiian private eye--finished its eight-year run on CBS. For Selleck, much has happened in those seven years.
He has done well with Three Men and a Little Lady, the sequel to his earlier, very successful Three Men and a Baby. But there have also been films that were, in one way or another, disappointments--Her Alibi, An Innocent Man, Quigley Down Under, Mr. Baseball--movies that may have received decent or better reviews, and that may have even sold a fair number of tickets, but that in no way could have been called box-office smashes. Reporters and gossip columnists wondered frequently whether Selleck still had it, whether he could make the jump from small screen to large, whether he was a has-been.
Then, for three years, he stayed away from movies and TV, and the rumors continued: He just wasn't box office anymore, no one wanted him, he couldn't even get arrested in Hollywood. It didn't matter that the rumors weren't true, that he had turned down six movies and had other reasons for staying away, reasons he has only recently begun to discuss.
The hiatus ended last summer with a made-for-television movie for TNT called Broken Trust, in which he played a judge who takes part in a sting against his fellow jurists. The movie aired in August amid much publicity, and the reviews for it and for Selleck were uncommonly good. But that, again, was TV, where it was known he could succeed. The reports over the summer talked of a new Tom Selleck, but riding up in the elevator to his suite on the Carlyle's 33rd floor, attired in casual slacks and rugby shirt, Selleck doesn't look new--only different, only older.
Yet the voice is charming, the smile affecting, the persona calm, relaxed, assured. Entering the suite, walking into the living room, Selleck says he would like to talk about these past three years, to set things straight. Life has not always been easy, he says; there have been money concerns, troubles in his four-film contract with the Disney studio, doubts about his professional future, worries over his ranch in Thousand Oaks, California, where he lives with his wife, British actress Jillie Mack, and their seven-year-old daughter, Hannah. (Selleck also has a 27-year-old son from a previous marriage.) He and his wife have been married eight years, together for 12. He loves to work on the ranch, but a year ago, 53 of its 63 acres burned; fortunately, none of his buildings or animals were harmed.
He sits on a sofa beneath a picture window facing the glowing green of Central Park and the towers of Central Park West. During the interview, Selleck will paint a picture of himself exemplified by his admission: "I've never reacted well to other people telling me what to do."
He smiles. He is not a new Tom Selleck; he is still Tom Selleck the individualist, with the same precise sense of right and wrong he has always possessed, wiser and more experienced. He has come through.
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