Tom Selleck said he fell in love with his Blue Bloods character, Frank Reagan, when he read the first script. That wasn’t the case for Magnum, P.I. however. In fact, he hated Thomas Magnum so much that he worried that if the show didn’t work out, he’d never work in Hollywood again.
Selleck told GQ in 2014 about his initial impressions of Magnum, P.I., and why he didn’t really want to do it.
“I got offered Magnum. I hated it. (Thomas Magnum) was James Bond-like. He was perfect, he had girls on each arm, he owned a Ferrari. … But what prompted all this is, this came from understanding that my appetites weren’t typical. So that by the time Magnum got written, they said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to do something more like (The) Rockford (Files).” So now you have this big six-foot-four guy who didn’t own a Ferrari, didn’t own a business card; he was more of a private investigator, owed money to his friends, was the least responsible guy, and he was the kid who would never grow up.
And I think that all came out of those early years, the choices I was making as an actor and by studying and learning that stuff. That was a big risk because I think if Magnum hadn’t worked out, I’d never have worked again in this business.”Tom Selleck, GQ
Unfortunately — or fortunately — for Selleck, the show was a hit and made him into an A-list TV actor. And Selleck went on to star in shows such as Blue Bloods.
Selleck Quit ‘Magnum P.I.’ At Peak of Its Success
It would be hard to walk away from millions of dollars a year while living and working in Hawaii, but Tom Selleck said he couldn’t stand it. After eight seasons, Magnum, P.I. ceased investigating the islands’ sexiest crimes in 1988 because Selleck didn’t want to do it anymore.
Selleck told People magazine in 2020 that that kind of fame wasn’t what he wanted. And the grind of the show left him exhausted and empty.
Selleck had been a working actor for years before he landed in Hawaii, but he wasn’t yet a star. He didn’t know what it was like to have fans mob him at airports for autographs or have his life turned into fodder for tabloids.
“I knew intellectually what it would mean in terms of being a public person, but until you’ve lived it, there’s no way to understand it,” said Selleck. “I had a feeling of, ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for this.’”
Selleck left the show to spend more time with his wife and their two young children. He used his Magnum, P.I. money to buy a ranch in Ventura, California, where he still lives. And he became much more selective about his projects.