If it weren’t for CBS, Tom Selleck would have played the legendary role of Indiana Jones. And according to Selleck, Harrison Ford “hated” it.
When George Lucas set out to film his now iconic franchise, he needed a Hollywood heartthrob to take the lead role. Ford was one of his first thoughts, but Lucas had just finished filming the initial Star Wars movies, and he wanted to add some versatility to his cast lists. He also hoped to steer clear of creating a working relationship akin to that of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
“[Ford] has been in two of my movies,” Lucas once said. “I don’t want him to be my Bobby De Niro.”
So the famed writer and director set out to find a new Alister, and he landed on Tom Selleck.
As the Blue Bloods actor shared with BUILD Series in 2017, he actually won the part. But the offer came at just the wrong time. And he couldn’t accept it.
As most people know, Tom Selleck is famous for playing the charming lead hero in Magnum P.I. It was actually that series that stood in the way of his Indiana Jones dreams.
When he read for the role, he had already filmed the Magnum pilot and inked a deal with CBS. But Lucas and director Steven Spielberg figured that was an easy problem to solve because they had endless clout in the industry.
“Steven and George, my newest pals at the time, offered me the job and I said, ‘well, I’ve done this pilot,’ and they said, ‘well, thanks for telling us. Most actors wouldn’t do that. But we got cards to play with CBS.”
CBS ‘Wouldn’t Let’ Tom Selleck Star in ‘Indiana Jones’
But apparently, those cards weren’t enough to get Selleck out of his contract or convince the network to let him film both projects. Selleck was an in-demand actor at the time, and the network didn’t want to share.
Lucas and Speilberg held out hope for about a month before they finally realized that they had to give up on their preferred actor. And as the story obviously goes, Ford moved into the role.
“Harrison Ford hates to hear this,” Selleck laughed. “Harrison, this is your role, and you’re indelible in it. So, it’s just an interesting story.”
While missing out on silver screen history stung at the time, Tom Selleck is happy with the way everything turned out in the end.
“I’m proud that I lived up to my contract,” he continued. “Some people said, ‘you gotta get in the car and drive into a brick wall and get injured and get out of Magnum and do this.’ I said, ‘I gotta look my mom and dad in the eye, and we don’t do that.’
“So, I did Magnum, ” he added. “It’s not so bad, is it?”