Posted on Wed, Aug. 21, 2002
'Hack' could bring star more attention than he wants
By Gail Shister
On and off camera, less is more for our town's David Morse.
Morse, the lanky (6-foot-4) star of CBS's new drama Hack, projects an understated, thoughtful persona that can easily be mistaken for shyness or insecurity.
"He has that kind of quietGary Cooper essence that works very well on TV," says Tom Fontana, Morse's producer on the late, great St. Elsewhere (1982-88).
"A lot of actors go over the top emotionally to prove they can laugh and cry and dance and juggle. David manages to do it all with his eyes."
And his wheels. In Hack, Morse's Mike Olshansky is a disgraced Philly cop turned vigilante cabbie. The entire series is being shot and produced here.
That was a deal-maker for Morse, 48, an area resident since 1994. After the long absences required by his film work - 2000's Proof of Life and 1999's The Green Mile, to name two - he wanted more time with his wife, Susan, a Philadelphia native, and their three children.
"I'm very involved in the family's daily life," Morse says. "I drive the kids to school. I do father-son overnights. I do all the cooking when I'm home."
With 18-hour days not uncommon, Morse isn't doing much cooking these days. Hourlong dramas "are about as hard as it gets, acting-wise," he acknowledges. "I'm in every scene."
In real life, being in the scene is anathema for Morse. Unlike the cacophony of self-promotion in which most actors revel, he prefers the mute button.
"I don't like talking about myself. I'm not really interested in myself. One of the good things about being a supporting actor is that you get to talk about other people. I'm much more comfortable with that."
He may not be comfortable after Hack's Sept. 27 debut. On St. Elsewhere, Morse's most recent regular TV gig, his sensitive Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison was just one in a large ensemble. Now he's the name at the top of the marquee.
"I don't even know what 'TV star' means yet. I know there's a difference in how people approach you, compared to movies. They feel OK coming up to you and sitting with you in a restaurant, unfortunately.
"I don't look forward to that. As it is, my wife doesn't even want to go to the mall with me. I'm a very private person. I'm just determined that we're going to continue to live our lives."
Morse and his family moved to Philadelphia "temporarily" in '94 after their Sherman Oaks, Calif., home was destroyed by the devastating Northridge earthquake.
For the first week after the disaster, the five Morses slept on the floor of his agent's condo. One of their twin sons, then 2 years old, had pneumonia "and we were all on antibiotics," Morse recalls.
The actor said a tearful goodbye to his family at the L.A. airport as he headed off for a four-month shoot for The Crossing Guard, in which Morse played the drunken driver who killed Jack Nicholson's young daughter.
The family dug in here, and Boston-born Boomer is glad.
"Philadelphia is my home. I felt homeless for quite a while. In L.A., so much revolves around show business, I never felt it was a very balanced life. I always felt really comfortable here."