TV Guide: Jesse Stone. He drinks too much, he can't let go of his ex, he's overqualified for his job....
I was very attracted to [Jesse] — he's so flawed, and yeta guy that I rooted for. I love playing him. We're writing the fifth one now. We set about to make our movies look and sound in every way like a feature film that happened to air on TV, and it paid off.
TV Guide: TV-movies have been in decline, but these typically score.
[CBS] gave me enough control where we made something different. They were real supportive, but they were a little worried because it does not look like your average TV-movie, with an explosion in the first 20 seconds. They're mysteries and we try to surprise the audience. If they go along for the ride, most people seem to have a good time.
TV Guide: Tell us about your negotiations to join NBC's Las Vegas next season.
What I wanted is kind of unprecedented. To do [Las Vegas, NBC had] to let me do the fifth Jesse Stone. I'd be working for two networks at once, which would be neat for me. I've watched about five episodes of Vegas, and I think I could fit in with the character [the new owner of the Montecito]. He's going to be pretty cool.
TV Guide: With a fourth Indiana Jones now in the works, we wondered if you'd recall for us the real story regarding you and the role?
I was offered Indiana Jones. I did a screen test; at the time I had already done a pilot for Magnum [P.I.]. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas held out the offer for about a month because they really wanted me, and I was very flattered. And then CBS said, "We won't let him do it," because they had first call on me. It's an old story. The only thing I hate is when people say I turned it down. I'd never be stupid enough to turn that down.
TV Guide: Does the Magnum, P.I. cast still keep in touch?
We do. On a lot of series, everybody ends up walking on eggshells and there are all these egos going on and nobody talks to each other anymore. I'm proud to say that after eight years of Magnum and 163 episodes, we all still got along and we've tried to stay in touch.
TV Guide: Since Magnum, you've showed off your versatility in roles like the "older man" whom Courteney Cox fell in love with on Friends.
Yeah, don't you think she really loves Richard even though she married Chandler? Friends was really fun. I was a little scared; I hadn't done a sitcom since before Magnum, on a show called Taxi. And then a bunch of people in the business said, "Oh, you can't do that, that's a bad career move, they'll say you're crawling to television, you can't guest on somebody else's show."
TV Guide: Do you have an all-time favorite role?
I have different ones for different reasons. I love Magnum — that was a great part. Three Men and a Baby, it's unheard of today, but it was the No. 1 movie at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. That changed my life, and I got to do a lot of feature films. I'm very partial to Westerns and I'm very proud of a movie called Quigley Down Under, it's kind of a cult classic. I loved the movie I did for A&E, it was a big challenge playing General Eisenhower. But I like all my movies. Every part I've ever done I'd like to do over because you're never happy, but I'm proud of my work.
TV Guide: Whose acting career do you admire?
The guy who most influenced me was James Garner. I guest-starred on Rockford Files and learned so much from him. Jim's acted all his life and he's still around doing good work. If he's doing something serious, he'll find what's funny in it, and if he's doing a comedy, he'll find what's serious in it, so his work is real three-dimensional. He probably had more acting influence on me than anybody — with the exception of maybe an actor by the name of Ben Johnson, an Academy Award winner who did a lot of Westerns. Those two guys had a lot of influence on me.
TV Guide: Mustache — or no mustache?
I don't really care. If somebody will hire me and the part's good and they say shave it off, I'll shave it off!
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