Interview with: David Morse of Hack
(airing Friday at 9:00 p.m. (ET) on CBS.)
Interviewed by: Amy E. Jones
Date of Interview: March 10, 2003
You star in Hack as an ex-cop turned cab driver. What happened to Mike Olshansky that he's no longer on the force?
The thing that he got caught for was stealing $4,000 from a drug dealer during a bust. It was actually more than that; there were other people involved$8,000 went missing. But Olshansky got caught with $4,000 of it. There were other things he was doing, but this is the thing that got him thrown off.
And his partner, who's played by Andre Braugher, also did that, right?
Yeah, he didn't get caught.
Mike isn't the "perfect hero" but he's not necessarily an "anti-hero" either, is he? How would you describe him and how he attempts to force the "right" outcome?
I think he's had a kind of progression. It's gone from a guy who was really out of touch
the thing that got him in trouble in the first place was getting out of touch with really doing what the right thing was and really doing it from a very bruised and misguided sense of what justice was, just from being in this cop mind. He really got on the wrong track. When he first was off the force and started driving a cab, one of the first things he started doing was really out of a need to still be a copit wasn't necessarily to be doing good. He was doing good things, but it was really about trying to satisfy this sense of identity and power that he didn't have anymore. It's progressed more into really trying to work on himself, to doing the right thing. Instead of being drawn into it grudgingly, he's found that there's a use for him there. He started his life with a sense of what's right and wrong, and had gone away from it. Now, he's starting to regain that sense of right and wrong.
Are television audiences more accepting of characters with flaws now than they have been in the past?
I think that's part of what we're counting on with this show. It's certainly the response I'm getting from people who watch the show. They relate to Olshansky because he is a guy who's struggling with everything in his life, really, with his family, with his marriage, and he isn't just a vigilante out there saving the day, beating up the bad guys. He's struggling in a way that people identify with. At the same time, he sometimes goes out and helps other people with their lives.
You've done series work before (St. Elsewhere), but it's been a while. What about Hack made you want to return?
There were a few things. I had been asked to do a lot of series over the years and I really hadn't wanted to. I'd been having a good time doing movies. Yet the problem with doing all those movies is none of them are done where I live. I've been gone anywhere from six to nine months out of the year. That's been pretty much true for the past 10 years. It's very difficult on a family, on children, on relationships.
I think our kids are getting to an age where I really wanted to
I'd missed a lot of what they've done. This is a very important ageit's all an important age. You can't say any part is more important than another. It won't be long before they're in high school and away from home. So that has been playing on me for quite a while.
When CBS asked me if I would think about doing a series, I told them I didn't want to go to L.A., I didn't want to go to Canada, or anything like that. They were open to doing something in Philadelphia. I was considering New York, but if they would do Philadelphia, then I would think about it. So, they sent me a couple scripts, both of them written for New York.
It wasn't even the pilot as much as it was the character. I kind of recognized that this was a guy who was really living emotionally in a place and literally in a place outside of the law, outside of society. You could go in a lot of directions with this, both story-wise and character-wise. I thought there was just really a lot of rich potential there. I thought, 'Well, this is one we could live with for a while.' I asked if they would do it in Philadelphia and they agreed to it.
I'm sure you're family loves having you there more often.
Yeah, they do, and it's meant a lot to the community and to all of Philadelphia to have this show here. It's a blessing for everybody.
Has it been difficult at all for Hack to find an audience and what changes have been made to attract viewers?
I think what happened originally with the show is the marketing people had an idea of what the show was, I had an idea of what I thought the show was, the creator had an idea, a lot of people had ideas of what this show should be. It really took probably six to seven episodes before it started to gel into what it's become now. [Executive producer] Bob [Singer] was instrumental in that. It opened the characters up to the audience more, and it's really become more of a character-driven story rather than just a plot-driven story. Long term, I don't think you necessarily care about plots. What you care about are individuals.
You may not know this yet, but has CBS given you any indication as to whether Hack will be around for next season?
No indication at all.
Are you hopeful that it will return?
I don't know if it will, but I'm hopeful it will. I feel like we've really discovered how to tell stories for the show. I think there's a lot of potential here. I can tell from the people who respond, who watch the show regularly, that they have a genuine love for the show. I think that will become more widespread the more the show is on. More people will catch on and we'll understand more how to represent it to the audience.
I know that you're pretty busy with Hack, but do you have other projects that you will be working on?
Nothing is set right now.
Do you still want to do movies?
Oh, sure. We'll just have to see how they fit in if the show keeps going.
Thank you so much for doing this interview.
You're welcome. Thank you for doing this.