Tom Selleck rose to prominence as the title character in the television series Magnum, P.I. However, shortly after filming the pilot for the show, the actor was cast in a film… a small film called Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Yes, Tom Selleck was almost Indiana Jones!
Can we envisage a world in which Indiana Jones isn’t played by Harrison Ford? A world in which Indiana Jones has a magnificent moustache? It was on the verge of happening.
While he evidently impressed both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas sufficiently to be their first option, as he said in a 2017 interview, he had to turn it down.
“After I did the pilot for Magnum, I tested for Indiana Jones and got the job. “My newest pals at the time, Steven and George, offered me the job,” Selleck recalled in an interview.
“We had a screen test with Tom Selleck and Sean Young, and it was really, really wonderful,” George Lucas told the Los Angeles Times in 2003. “They’re both fantastic actors, and it came out pretty nicely.”
“George and I went after Tom Selleck quite hard,” Steven Spielberg recalls.
There was one issue, however: Selleck’s commitment to Magnum, P.I. “I responded, ‘Well, I’ve done this pilot,'” Selleck remarked in an interview
The filmmakers appreciated his candour about the probable work conflict and stated that they would attempt to work something out with Magnum’s network, CBS.
It didn’t work out, however: “Turns out CBS wouldn’t allow me do it,” Selleck explained. “They dangled the offer for about a month.”
Despite having to turn down what would become one of cinema’s greatest action franchises, and despite people urging him to leave Magnum and do Raiders, Selleck has no regrets.
“I got a contract with Magnum. “It was the nicest thing that could have happened to me,” he remarked. “I’m proud that I kept my end of the bargain.”
“OK, so I did Magnum. Isn’t it not too bad?”
No, it’s not horrible at all. As we all know, doing Magnum, P.I. launched Selleck’s great career, and he went on to star in the hit Three Men and a Baby films, as well as the long-running cop drama Blue Bloods.
And, of course, Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones, transforming him into the iconic archaeologist/adventurer we all know today.
Even Selleck admits that the part went to the correct person.
“Harrison Ford despises hearing this, but Harrison, this is your part, and you’re indelible in it,” Selleck stated in the interview. “It’s just a fascinating story.”