By FRAZIER MOORE
2012-05-10 10:00 PM
On the CBS hit drama, Selleck plays Frank Reagan, the New York Police Department commissioner and patriarch of a family devoted to law enforcement and each other. His offspring include a detective (Donnie Wahlberg), a cop (Will Estes) and an assistant D.A. (Bridget Moynahan). On duty and off, they, along with the extended Reagan family, have each other's back _ even if it's not always easy to say it.
"We Reagans aren't real gushy, but I couldn't be more proud of you," Frank Reagan tells his daughter in one of his more expansive displays.
Frank is an upright, reassuring presence for his brood and for "Blue Bloods" viewers alike.
The role is a comfortable fit for Selleck, himself a family man wed to Jillie for a quarter-century and with a grown daughter, Hannah.
And yet the role poses challenges: How do you play a character who is strong and incorruptible without appearing too good to be true?
"A commander can't expose his weakness or doubt or concern or worry," says Selleck. "I have to show all those things to the audience without showing it to the cops I'm ordering around. When you get inside Frank's head, you realize that anybody with the weight of the world on his shoulders will exhibit flaws that come from dealing with that kind of pressure. I think next season we're going to get inside of him more and reveal more of them."
At the same time, Selleck hopes the show will find some lighter moments.
"I can't sit around giving orders all day," he says. "They cast me because I can play bosses. But I have other colors I can play."
No doubt. Don't forget his guest role on "Friends," as well as such comedy features as "In & Out" and "Three Men and a Baby," the top-grossing film of 1987.
Still strikingly handsome at 67, the strapping, dimple-cheeked Selleck has had to work against those leading-man looks ever since his uncertain start as an actor.
"When I was 25 I sounded 15 and looked 35," he says with a laugh. "That clearly wasn't working. It was only when I kind of grew into myself that the quirky aspects of what I do became a strength."
Selleck was busy during last year's hiatus. He was filming "Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt." Airing on CBS on May 20, it's the eighth in the series of Jesse Stone whodunits that began in 2005, based on characters created by the late Robert B. Parker in his best-selling series of books.
Selleck manages to wring sparks of humor from this melancholy lawman, who, as the film begins, has lost his end-of-the-line job as police chief of tiny Paradise, Massachusetts.
The surface whodunit surrounds a mob-related double homicide, "but the mystery at the beginning of the tale is always Jesse.
"He's a totally decent guy who has a lot of issues, and deals with them every day," says Selleck. But Jesse is a man of few words _ words that often leaven with irony the pain he feels.
Like Stone, the future of the franchise is uncertain. CBS hasn't made its intentions known.
"But I don't think that this is the end," Selleck says. "If CBS doesn't want Jesse anymore _ and God knows that's their right, and bless them, they've produced eight of these _ I think there's a lot of people in line who'd like to do it elsewhere, who've expressed interest over the years."