A Minute With: Tom Selleck talking "Blue Bloods"

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With a Hollywood career spanning four decades, Tom Selleck has charmed audiences in a variety of diverse roles, which now includes a top New York City cop on the new television show “Blue Bloods.”

Tom Selleck talks about his show "Blue Bloods" during the CBS, Showtime and the CW Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, California, July 28, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The Emmy Award-winning actor is perhaps best known for his leading role on 1980s TV show “Magnum P.I.” But he also has appeared on the hit show “Friends,” and in the 1987 hit film “Three Men and A Baby.”

Selleck divides his time between his southern California avocado ranch and New York City, the setting for “Blue Bloods,” about a multi-generational police family, which premieres on Friday.

He spoke to Reuters about his role as New York City Police Commissioner Frank Ryan, the ensemble cast and why building a chair appeals to him.

Q: Cops shows come and go. What will give ‘Blue Bloods’ staying power?

A: “While we do go into cop procedures, you also see this aspect of a family of three generations of Irish cops. And you don’t always see a show that blends family drama into a police drama. I think the fact that our show takes the time for that will make our show stand out with viewers.”

Q: How did you prepare to play the role?

A: “I’ve played police officers in the past, so I was able to draw on that experience. If anything, Frank Regan is also a dad. Though I haven’t modeled him after my father, Frank is a good father and I think about my father and what choices he would have made.”

Q: “Blue Bloods” features a large cast with actors such as Bridget Moynahan, Len Cariou, Will Estes and Donnie Wahlberg. How does it feel to be back working in an ensemble?

A: “Ensemble work on a television series is pretty unique for the actor’s experience. The characters grow and change, the writers are writing every week, and when you have actors good enough to handle those evolutions, it’s really my favorite kind of television. In most of our episodes, somewhere around the third act, the family ends up at the Sunday dinner table. I just sit at the head of the table and marvel at this incredible group of actors.”

Q: New York City plays a prominent role -- almost like another character.

A: “When I first saw the script, written by these terrific writers, Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green (“The Sopranos”), I felt New York could be a central character; the streets, the neighborhoods, things we don’t often see in a television series.”

Q: If you weren’t an actor you’d be...

A: “I think a furniture maker or carpenter. The acting experience is almost an abstraction. I guess the thing that projects your image is real, but the rest of it people argue whether it’s any good or whether it moved them. It’s all kind of abstract, and that can drive you nuts. If you’re a carpenter or a furniture maker and you build a chair, you can sit in it. I would welcome that change.

“The good thing about being an actor is all those things I wanted to be as a kid -- a cowboy, a pro baseball player, a fireman, a policeman, I got to play all those and go there, maybe as a tourist for awhile, but I still got to go there. Someday I won’t be acting either by choice, or the phone will stop ringing. The first thing I’ll do is go to my wood shop.”

Q: Any truth to the rumors about a “Magnum” movie or “Three Men and A Baby” sequel?

A: “They haven’t called or asked for my advice or if I was available for ‘Magnum,’ so I’m not sure. There is a script in development for a sequel to ‘Three Men and A Baby’ where the baby has grown. The criteria for Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and me to be involved would be if a good story was written. We don’t want to rip off a movie that was so good to us.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney