NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- He has been a Hollywood idol for years.
Tom Selleck spends his Fridays starring as the New York City Police commissioner on "Blue Bloods." But he told CBS 2 exclusively his most important role has nothing to do with television or movies.
"It's not the Waltons, but it's a family," Selleck said recently.
There may be killers to catch and family drama, but for the crime-fighting Reagans of Blue Bloods there's always time for one another at dinner.
"It's a rather unsentimental family, but it is how this tough family deals with not only the problems of their job but the things that come home with him," Selleck said.
While filming one of the dinner scenes in Brooklyn that the show has become known for, Selleck took a break to talk with CBS 2's Ann Mercogliano. On his mind that day was his real life family.
Selleck said his most important role has always been fatherhood. While busy filming other TV series and films decades ago, he selected books to read to his daughter, but only ones that depicted the dad as a good guy.
"I read to her all the time when she was little, and I said 'Hannah, I'm not going to read these to you.' She said 'Why daddy?' I said because the dad's always an idiot," Selleck said.
When Selleck talks about playing Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, he is acutely aware of his character's flaws.
"I'm playing the patriarch of a family. I think Frank is sometimes an idiot and sometimes makes mistakes, but part of what he tries to be is a good dad," Selleck said.
Even for this Hollywood veteran, getting the audience to like his character is a challenge, Selleck said.
"It's hard to play leaders. You can't show fear. You can't show emotion, all those human emotions the audience wants to see," he said.
In the early days, Selleck's fans wanted to see something else, namely the heartthrob actor shirtless. His career took off in the early 1980s with "Magnum P.I.," playing the ladies' favorite private eye in Hawaii.
"The only thing that's dated are those silly little shorts I wore," Selleck said. "The thing I take from Magnum is the lesson of television. The shooting and making of it is very difficult. You spend more time than you do with your family."
Now in the third season of Blue Bloods, it's the viewers and his TV family that he's focusing on.
"We have people that they come to know and I think root for, and a family that they root for," Selleck said.
And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about for Selleck off screen and on.
CBS 2's Mercogliano took another tidbit from the interview. There are rumors of a third installment to the "Three Men and a Baby" franchise. Selleck said he'd love to do "Three Men and a Bride."
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