Tom Selleck Was Offered a Major Part in ‘Lonesome Dove’: Here’s the Role He Almost Played

by Josh Lanier

Producers offered Tom Selleck one of the major roles in the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove, but he had to turn it down because he was shooting Magnum P.I.

The Blue Bloods star said he was friends with the director, Simon Wincer, who came to him with the project. But the producers of Magnum P.I. wouldn’t release him to film the famous 1989 miniseries, he told True West magazine. Wincer wanted Selleck to play the luckless cowboy Jake Spoon. Robert Urich, a longtime television character actor, ended up playing the role.

Lonesome Dove also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, and scores of other big stars is one of the most beloved western mini-series ever.

Wincer wanted Selleck because they had just finished a grueling shoot in the Australian Outback for Quigley Down Under, and he liked the actor.

Selleck Details Tough Conditions on Set of ‘Quigley’

Tom Selleck was already a massive star in 1988 from his time on Magnum P.I. So, he had his pick on projects. But he chose a script that had bounced around Hollywood for decades about a cowboy who moves to Australia but ends up siding with the indigenous people over his cruel boss.

Selleck said that Steve McQueen and Sean Connery were both attached to the project over the years. But it never got made. One reason could be the absolutely brutal conditions the cast and crew endured filming the movie. There was constant, blistering heat, insects, and stubborn animals that kept causing issues for the cast.

San Giacamo, who played Selleck’s love interest, remembers her costume going through some on-set, last-second alterations for fear she may die while wearing them.

“The wardrobe designers in Australia said, you’re not going to survive in this corset, in the terrain where we’re going. So they had to strip the corset down several layers of fabric and bone,” she said.

But she loved her time working with Selleck.

“And just the magic and the mystique of being in the Outback was pretty great,” she said. “Tom is a real gentleman, real considerate. I remember him being so proud of the detail that was in all the props and the guns. He loved that project, and he brought all of that with him.”

Selleck loves the film, but admits that John Wayne would have made a better Quigley.

“That would have been a great John Wayne movie,” Tom Selleck notes. “When you realize John Wayne could have done a better job, it’s a little intimidating. But every good part should scare you; put it that way. It was iconic; this guy was bigger than life. I worked very hard on it. I’m very, very proud of Quigley.”