O‘ahu in 1981: Extracts From an Interview With Tom Selleck, The O.G. Thomas Magnum

When the original “Magnum, P.I.,” went off the air in 1988, it was one of TV’s highest-rated shows. Twenty years later the reboot debuted. Its new season premiered Friday, Sept. 27.

Magnum P.I. premieres this month on CBS—again. The 2018 remake of the series attempts to follow in the success of the original from the 1980s, which starred a relatively unknown handsome young actor named Tom Selleck.


In 1981, HONOLULU talked with Selleck, the original Thomas Magnum, one year after the start of the filmed-in-Hawai‘i show. He wasn’t just here for work—he bought a house in the Islands and played volleyball with the Outrigger Canoe Club men’s seniors team. In excerpts from the interview, which ran during the show’s second season, Selleck explains how he landed the role of a lifetime and cleared up some rumors.


Interview: Tom Selleck
tom selleck


HONOLULU: After years of being unknown on a national scale, you suddenly get this part—

SELLECK: Well, the part was assigned to me, really. They wanted me to do Magnum, they offered it to me.

HONOLULU: Who’s “they”?

SELLECK: Universal. And the first script wasn’t a script I wanted to do. It was a good script but it was more James Bondish, and I turned it down. We got into a hassle, they said you’ve got to do it, and on the last day I had of a contract with Universal they assigned the show to me. And then they brought in Don Bellisario, our executive producer, and he wrote a new script which I liked very much and we had no problem. But it wasn’t a show they cast, or looked for people. They came to me with it.


SEE ALSO: The Strange Stories of Hollywood Filming in Hawai‘i​


SELLECK: There’s a lot of rumors I could probably straighten out. See, I hear that I’m very active in this town. That I’ve got a date just about every night. [laughs] I just wish I had the time. I heard I was getting married.

HONOLULU: How do you feel about these rumors? People tell you you’re getting married …

SELLECK: I don’t like ’em! This is a big city and a real small town … I had two little teeny boppers climb into my yard at 12:30 the other night, and that depressed me.

HONOLULU: Your yard here?

SELLECK: [smiling] Yes, somewhere on Maui.

HONOLULU: Yeah, right, Lanai …

SELLECK: Tell them it’s on Lanai. Or Kahoolawe. My house on Kahoolawe, in the middle of the gunnery range … No, I don’t like that.


SEE ALSO: Iconic “Magnum, P.I.” Robin’s Nest Has Just Been Demolished


HONOLULU: What are you planning to do then?

SELLECK: Nothing.

HONOLULU: Stay around here or go somewhere?

SELLECK: I’d like to play a lot of volleyball. The national championships are here next year, and I’d love to play on the Outrigger team again.


SEE ALSO: 41 Thoughts We Had While Watching the New “Magnum P.I.”


Magnum, P.I., ran for eight seasons until 1988, garnering Selleck an Emmy in 1984. The series finale was watched by more than 50 million, and Selleck has gone on to appear in more than 50 shows and movies since.


As for the new version, the Season 1 finale had 5.4 million viewers. When asked by TV Insider if Selleck would do a cameo alongside current Magnum, Jay Hernandez, he said no. “I’m sure [fans would] like it, but I have an obligation to my version.”



Find more photos from Honolulu’s past every Thursday on Instagram: @honolulumag.


Read more stories by Katrina Valcourt