St. Petersburg Times, January 31, 1988
Times Publishing Company
January 31, 1988, Sunday, City Edition
SECTION: TV DIAL; Pg. 6
LENGTH: 842 words
'St. Elsewhere's' David Morse is not comfortable being in the limelight
SOURCE: Tribune Media Services
BYLINE: STEPHANIE DuBOIS
HOLLYWOOD - Leaning his 6-foot, 4-inch frame against the dressing room door jamb, St. Elsewhere's David Morse watches with arms crossed as I
approach. Expression guarded, his greeting is polite, albeit somber.
Throughout the interview, he'll act as if he's a bit wary of reporters wanting to invade his personal space. Throughout our conversation, he'll be reticent to talk about himself, exhibiting much of the same shyness and sensitivity viewers have come to know in his St. Elsewhere character, Dr. Jack Morrison.
Morse has been shy most of his life; when asked if being in the limelight helped him overcome the problem, he says, "For a while it put
me deeper into it."
Being in the limelight, he explains, "is very unnatural to me. I had a hard enough time just sitting in a room with two people and talking
under normal circumstances."
He does admit that because his personality is so close to that of his series character's, "A lot of people mistook the work I was trying to do. They didn't appreciate it." And though he now has directed two of this season's episodes of St. Elsewhere, producers were initially reluctant to give him the go-ahead. "The reaction I got was, 'We don't know if you can communicate well enough to direct.' " Morse is delighted he got the chance to helm the good ship St. Elsewhere. "I don't think I slept from the moment I heard I was going to
direct my first episode to two weeks after it was done."
He doesn't necessarily like directing more, but says, "I like myself more" when directing. He explains, "Acting is so private, so much of it
is internal, you never get to really blow things out.
Directing is much more having to be there for people, much more
With the additional directorial chores, Morse says this has been one of his busiest years. He did the recently aired NBC TV movie Downpayment on Murder and the upcoming one-hour drama special for NBC, Charlie's Secret, tentatively scheduled to air March '88 with Susan Dey and Danny Glover - while simultaneously doing the stage play, The Little Prince, in Hollywood. His feature film Personal Foul - in which he co-stars with his wife Susan Wheeler Duff - is ready for '88 release, but has yet to land a
Personal Foul marks the second time he and his wife have worked together. They met doing a stage rendition of Of Mice and Men. Morse, whose parents' ongoing marital problems ended in divorce when he was 18, says getting married was the last thing he ever thought he'd do. "I didn't think much of the institution of marriage. Almost everybody I
knew, except my grandparents, had been divorced."
He changed his mind because, "There was a point in my life where I realized that career was not it - acting was not the end. That's not what
all this is about. It's hopefully about learning to love a little.
And I slowly realized that learning to love also took a commitment."
"Just because other people had failed in marriage," he goes on,
"didn't mean I was going to fail."
He says the one thing he learned from those failed unions was an "appreciation of how difficult it really is to have a successful marriage." And though "one of the first questions people ask is how can two actors make it with the competition and egos?" Morse says, "We've got too much respect for each other and the acting helps us share a little
The couple has been thinking seriously about starting a family. "We've almost said, 'This is the time. Let's do it.' But then it's like "Oh my God, what are we thinking of?' " "The thing that scares me the most is that actors' careers are so unpredictable, it's just a matter of saying 'Yes, I'm willing to take on the care and well being of these people for the next 18 years.' " He and Susan, who also teaches a program for abused children, don't plan on having a large family. "I don't think it's right for us to have a lot of our own kids. We know there are kids
out there who need homes. If we want more than a couple, we could adopt."
Morse considers himself as socially conscious as his wife and the series that has made him a familiar face. Every Saturday he goes to Chino prison to coach prisoners who will do the readings at Sunday church services. He has been doing the work for four years but, typically, was reluctant to discuss it, because "it's almost like patting yourself on
the back - and I don't mean it that way."
There's nothing wrong with patting yourself on the back from time to
GRAPHIC: COLOR PHOTO; BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO; David Morse (ran on pg. 1);
David Morse (ran on pg. 3)
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