Tom Selleck: “I almost turned down Magnum P.I.”

The actor's new memoir tells all.
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Tom Selleck, best known for his starring role in the hit, 1980s television series Magnum P.I., chatted with Woman’s Day about his recently released autobiography.

Called You Never Know, the ‘lucky’ actor sheds light on his “accidental” 50-year career, detailing his journey to the top in Hollywood.

In this exclusive interview, the Blue Bloods actor spills how he lost the lead in Indiana Jones to Harrison Ford, why he never wanted Magnum P.I., his thoughts on aging and retirement and much more. Let’s dive in.

Tom jokes that he avoids wearing Hawaiian-style shirts these days. (Image: Getty)

How does it feel to publish your autobiography and why now?

It feels great. Why now? Because it’s taken this long. [Laughs] I had been asked about telling my story for years and it finally felt like the right time.

The book is called You Never Know. Why that title?

Because in this business, you never know. You never know what’s coming next. I still don’t, but I have somehow got this far and I’m still working. There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way, but I have been lucky. None of it was planned. It all kind of happened by accident. Life is like that. That’s really what the book is about.

Tom Selleck smiles on the black-and-white cover of his new memoir You Never Know
Tom reveals challenges and successes in his recently released autobiography Now You Know: A Memoir. (Image: Supplied)

Do you feel you have accomplished all you set out to achieve when you first became an actor?

No, because the truth is I never set out to become one. I never really trained to become an actor. It just happened. My dream was to be a pro baseball player.

I took History of American Theatre in junior college because I thought it would be an easy way to get the grades.

What did happen to make you consider becoming an actor?

It’s a long story, but the short version is that I needed to make money. So, my theatre arts teacher suggested I audition for some commercials. I had no idea what it would lead to.

The Blue Bloods actor became an actor out of necessity – “I needed to make money,” he laughs. (Image: Getty)

Magnum P.I. made you a household name, but is it true that you almost turned down the role?

Yeah, because I read the script for the pilot, and I really didn’t like it. My contract with Universal was finishing, and I had already done six unsold pilots for other shows. Magnum felt like just another one. I had just worked with the brilliant James Garner in two episodes of The Rockford Files and that had given me different ideas as to what I wanted to do and the direction I wanted to take, but Universal insisted. Thankfully, the show was picked up and it turned out pretty well.

But then the success of the show cost you the role of Indiana Jones…

It did. I think the fact I was offered the role has become Hollywood trivia down the years. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, but it didn’t happen.

I couldn’t get out of my contract to do Magnum, and the role went to Harrison Ford instead. Was I disappointed? Of course. I could have done both Magnum and Indiana Jones, but CBS wouldn’t let me. But Magnum turned out to be a pretty good consolation prize. Things worked out pretty well for me and for Harrison, I think.

You turn 80 next year. How do you feel about ageing?

I honestly don’t really feel anything. In my head, I still feel the same as I did when I was 17. Age really is just a number. I’m just enjoying the ride.

Are you considering retiring now that Blue Bloods is ending?

Hopefully, not. Every job I have ever finished has felt like my last at the time, but I still want to work. I still love to work. I want to find out what’s next.

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