With nearly 100 film and television credits under his belt, David Morse has created quite a reputation for himself as the consummate character actor. He’s also made a name for himself on the stage, having appeared alongside old St. Elsewhere castmate Denzel Washington in a recent Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh.
The following are Morse’s favorite roles in those three different arenas of acting.
The Crossing Guard (1995)
“People always respond to The Green Mile because it’s the one they remember the most because it’s on all the time. It was a great role and a great cast. But the one that really changed my life more was doing The Crossing Guard with Sean [Penn] and Jack Nicholson. It came at a time when it was very difficult for myself and my family’s life. And Sean really had to fight for me to do Indian Runner and then he really had to fight to have me do The Crossing Guard. He involved me in the entire process. The whole four years it took to do that, I was involved in writing the script—just the whole deal. I loved that character and that experience, and it really was a crucial time in my life.”
How I Learned to Drive (1997)
“What we just did on Broadway in the theater—it would be hard to say The Iceman Cometh wasn’t my favorite experience. But there was one that really was so unexpected when we did it. That was How I Learned to Drive with Mary-Louise Parker and Paula Vogel. We originally did it at the Vineyard [Theatre] and the reviews were amazing. We wound up nominated for every possible award and winning most of them, including the Pulitzer Prize. It just became an event in the city that people had to be a part of and come see. To be a part of something like that in New York City with an actress like Mary-Louise Parker—and everybody in that play really. That was pretty extraordinary and pretty meaningful to all of us.”
“In television, there’s so much to choose from, but I’m going to say the first experience that I had in television that many people won’t know about. People who saw it will understand why I feel this way. There was a TV movie called Prototype that Christopher Plummer and I starred in. It was sort of a modern-day Frankenstein story. I played a computer that he had created. He didn’t know that he created it for the military, and when he realized that they were going to take me and use me as this high-tech killing machine, he ran away with his computer. So the whole story is about him, this man who never had children, falling in love with this computer. The computer, who supposedly has no feelings, is beginning to understand feelings in this relationship with him. The ending of it is so heartbreaking. It was so beautifully written and it kind of set a bar, along with St. Elsewhere, in terms of my television experience, for what television can be and how great it can be. I think that after that, I was never too snotty about television and really saw the power and potential of it.”