“I don't even know what TV star means. I know there's a difference in how people approach you, compared to movies. They feel OK coming up to you and sitting with you in a restaurant, unfortunately.” David Morse
Actor David Morse first came to prominence playing the friendly Dr. Jack “Boomer” Morrison in the long running television drama “St. Elsewhere” (1982-1988). His film career began to take off in the 1990s after his collaboration with director Sean Penn in “The Indian Runner” (1991). The two would embark on a successful reunion with the 1995 action film “The Crossing Guard,” in which the actor picked up an Independent Spirit nomination for his scene stealing portrayal of drunk driver John Booth. However, Morse did not acquire worldwide appreciation until he was cast as prison guard “Brutal” in the Tom Hanks box office smash hit “The Green Mile” (1999), where he jointly netted a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his performance. He went on to gain attention for his work in “Shuang tong” (“Double Vision,” 2002) and earned a nomination at the Golden Horse Awards, which is the Chinese equivalent of the Oscars, and the Oscar winner “The Hurt Locker” (2008), where he shared a Gotham Award and a Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for his performance. Morse is also known for playing roles in such films as “The Getaway” (1994), “Twelve Monkeys” (1995), “The Rock” (1996), “Contact” (1997), “Crazy in Alabama” (1999), “Dancer in the Dark” (2000), “Proof of Life” (2000), “Hearts in Atlantis” (2001), “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” (2005), “16 Blocks” (2006), “Disturbia” (2007) and “Passengers” (2008). Morse attempted to return to television with the short lived sitcom “Big Wave Dave's” (CBS, 1993) and “Hack” (CBS, 2002-2004), but he is perhaps more successful for guest starring in Fox's “House M.D.,” (2006-2007) where he earned an Emmy nomination for playing detective Michael Tritter. He enjoyed further notice with his Emmy nomination for his supporting role of George Washington in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” (2008). On stage, Morse gained widespread kudos for his performance in “How I Learned to Drive” (1997).
Morse and his wife, actress Susan Wheeler Duff, have three children together.
Father of 3
Childhood and Family:
David Bowditch Morse was born on October 11, 1953, in Hamilton, Massachusetts. The eldest of four children born to Charles Morse, a sales manager, and Gacquelin Morse, a school teacher, David was raised with three younger sisters. After graduating high school, he spent two years training for the stage at the William Esper studio. He later moved to New York City to further pursue his career.
On June 19, 1982, David married actress Susan Wheeler Duff (born in 1958). They have twin sons and a daughter. After the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, which destroyed his Sherman Oaks home, David moved his family to Pennsylvania to be near his wife's family.
The Crossing Guard
David Morse began acting on stage with the Boston Repertory Company during the 1970s before relocating to New York to work with the Circle Repertory Theatre in 1978. His first screen role arrived in 1980 when he was cast as Jerry Maxwell in the Richard Donner drama “Inside Moves.” Later that same year, he was named one of the 12 “Promising New Actors of 1980” in John Willis' “Screen World, Vol. 32.” Morse went on to hit the small screen with a supporting role in the ABC movie “Our Family Business” (1981), opposite Sam Wanamaker and Ted Danson. After guest starring as Kevin Mallory in “Nurse” (1981), he got his big break when he landed the role of Dr. Jack “Boomer” Morrison in the NBC medical drama “St. Elsewhere,” created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey. He was on the show from its first episode on October 26, 1982, to its finale on May 25, 1988. Apart from acting, Morse also directed two episodes called “Handoff” and “A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking” in 1987.
In season 4 of the series, Morse took time off to work on his second motion picture, “Personal Foul” (1987), an independent drama directed and written by Ted Lichtenfeld that starred Adam Arkin. While on the show, he also acted in several TV films, including “Prototype” (1983, with Christopher Plummer), “Shattered Vows” (1984, opposite Valerie Bertinelli), “When Dreams Come True” (1985, opposite Cindy Williams), “Six Against the Rock” (1987, with David Carradine, Dennis Farina and Howard Hesseman), “Downpayment on Murder” (1987, played Detective Jackson) and “A Place at the Table” (1988, with Lukas Haas).
“It's frustrating to hear people say, 'Oh yeah, he's great, but we're not going to finance a film with him as the lead. ‘St. Elsewhere' brought me movie offers, but they would not let me out of the contract and by the time it ended, I was so identified with that character (Dr. Boomer Morrison), I couldn't get any other roles. And I need roles. Never mind the money, never mind the fame - it's the roles.” David Morse
Following the demise of “St. Elsewhere,” Morse costarred with Meredith Baxter on the NBC TV Movie of the Week “Winnie” (1998), adapted from the 1985 book “Winnie: My Life in the Institution- A Memoir of a Special Woman” by Jamie Pastor Bolnick. He then starred as CIA agent Remus in the NBC miniseries “The Brotherhood of the Rose” (1989), based on the novel of the same name by David Morrell, and supported John Heard and Mel Harris in the syndicated TV movie “Cross of Fire” (1989), which won a 1990 Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special. Also in 1989, he returned to series TV as a guest on the NBC drama “Midnight Caller,” starring Gary Cole. Morse then supported Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins and Mimi Rogers in the disappointing remake of “Desperate Hours” (1990), which was directed by Michael Cimino, before working with director/writer Sean Penn on the drama “The Indian Runner” (1991), adapted from the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman.” In the movie, he delivered a good portrayal of a small town deputy sheriff named Joe Roberts, opposite Viggo Mortensen as his criminal brother Frank. On television, he portrayed Pete in the NBC kidnapping film “Cry in the Wild: The Taking of Peggy Ann” (1991), opposite Megan Follows, played Tom McMurdo in the segment “Showdown” of the TV adaptation of “Two-Fisted Tales” (1992), was reunited with John Heard in “Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster” (1992), was cast as Dr. Jim Betts in the NBC drama “Miracle on Interstate 880” (1993) and appeared in a “Reasonable Doubts” episode called “Moment of Doubt.”
Morse did not revisit TV series as a regular until he joined Adam Arkin, Jane Kaczmarek, Patrick Breen and Kurtwood Smith in the Ken Levine and David Isaacs created situation comedy “Big Wave Dave's,” where he played Dave Bell. Premiering on CBS on August 9, 1993, the show did not make an impact with audiences and was canceled after six episodes on September 13, 1993. He then guest starred in “SeaQuest DSV” (1993) and “Homicide: Life on the Street” (1995), portrayed Captain Brian Engle in the TV movie adaptation of the Stephen King “The Langoliers” (1995) and did voiceover work for the animated series “The New Adventures of Madeline” (1995), “Action Man” (1995) and “Stories from My Childhood” (2 episodes, 1998). He also acted in two more TV films titled “Tecumseh: The Last Warrior” (1995) and “Murder Live” (1997).
Morse became even busier when he was cast as the father of Elijah Wood in the psychological thriller “The Good Son” (1993), which enjoyed significant success at the box office despite receiving generally negative reviews from critics, portrayed Jim Deer Jackson in the remake of “The Getaway” (1994), which starred Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, and appeared in “Magic Kid II” (1994), directed, co-written by and starring Stephen Furst. In 1995, he was reunited with Sean Penn in the independent drama “The Crossing Guard,” in which he was nominated for a 1996 Independent Spirit award for his noted supporting turn as John Booth, a drunk driver who kills Jack Nicholson's daughter. He continued to appear in such movies as the Terry Gilliam directed science fiction movie “12 Monkeys” (1995, starred Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer), Michael Bay's “The Rock” (1996, starred Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris), Michael Apted's adaptation of “Extreme Measures” (1996, starred Huge Grant and Huge Jackman), and Renny Harlin's action thriller “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (1996, starred Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson). He also appeared in the Sundance Film Festival nominee for Grand Jury Prize, “George B.” (1997, starred as George), Robert Zemeckis' “Contact” (1997, as the father of Jodie Foster), F. Gary Gray's “The Negotiator” (1998, starred Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey), the Antonio Banderas directed “Crazy in Alabama” (1999, opposite Melanie Griffith, Lucas Black, Cathy Moriarty and Meat Loaf) and Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King novel “The Green Mile” (1999), where he earned a 2000 Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture, which he shared with costars Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Cromwell and Patricia Clarkson, among other actors.
Morse returned to the stage when he was cast as Father Barry in a Broadway production of “On the Waterfront,” which ran from May 1, 1995, to May 7, 1995. He then received praise for his portrayal of Uncle Peck in the off-Broadway production of “How I Learned to Drive” (1997-1998), the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Paula Vogel at the Century Center for the Performing Arts. The role brought the actor a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Actor, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor, an Obie Award for Performance and an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Outstanding Actor.
Entering the new millennium, Morse received the supporting role of Bill Houston in Lars von Trier's award winning musical drama “Dancer in the Dark” (2000), where he also showed off his singing talent by performing the song “Smith & Wesson.” He also costarred with Jamie Foxx in Antoine Fuqua's movie “Bait” (2000), was cast as the kidnapped husband of Meg Ryan in Taylor Hackford's “Proof of Life” (2000), starred as Father John McNamee in Eugene Martin's “Diary of a City Priest” (2001), was seen in “Hearts in Atlantis” (2001, starred Anthony Hopkins), costarred as the troubled coach of Ryan Gosling, Gideon Ferguson, in the football themed movie “The Slaughter Rule” (2002) and worked in the Hong Kong film “Shuang tong” (2002), from which he received a Golden Horse nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2002 Golden Horse Film Festival for his role of Kevin Richter.
In 2001, Morse provided the voice of Abraham Lincoln in the TV miniseries “Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided,” but he did not score a series regular role until the following year when he starred as former cop turned taxi driver Mike Olshansky in the David Koepp drama “Hack.” The show ran on CBS from September 27, 2002, to March 13, 2004. After “Hack” ended, Morse resumed his film career by costarring with Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood in David Jacobson's “Down in the Valley” (2005), played a man coping with the loss of his wife in Rick Rosenthal's “Nearing Grace” (2005), opposite Gregory Smith and Jordana Brewster, teaming up with Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson and Elisabeth Shue for the drama “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” (2005), supporting Bruce Willis and Mos Def in Richard Donner's “16 Blocks” (2006) and starring in the short “A.W.O.L” (2006). In 2007, he could be seen in the Deborah Kampmeier controversial drama “Hounddog” (starred Dakota Fanning) and the D.J. Caruso thriller “Disturbia” (with Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo, and Carrie-Anne Moss).
Morse next joined the cast of the Fox medical drama “House M.D.” in the recurring role of Michael Tritter. He appeared in six episodes from 2006 to 2007. For his good acting, he was nominated for a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. The actor picked up his second Emmy nomination for his role of George Washington in the biographical miniseries “John Adams” (2008). The HBO show was directed by Tom Hooper and starred Paul Giamatti as John Adams. Morse received additional recognition on the big screen when he joined the cast of the Academy Award winning war film “The Hurt Locker” (2008), which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow. As Colonel Reed, he shared a Gotham award for Best Ensemble Cast and a Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) for Best Ensemble. The same year, he offered a memorable portrayal of Arkin in the thriller “Passenger,” which was helmed by Rodrigo Garcia and starred Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. He then returned to Broadway to play James 'Sharky' Harkin in Conor McPherson's play “The Seafarer,” which ran from December 6, 2007, to March 30, 2008.
In 2009, Morse was reunited with director Rodrigo Garcia for the dramatic film “Mother and Child,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 14, 2009, and at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2010, before being given a limited theatrical release. He also played James Cochrane in the TV film “Empire State” and Douglas Lydecker in two episodes of “Medium” (both 2009). Recently, he made a guest appearance in “Treme” (2010, as Lieutenant Colson) and played Karl in the movie “Mint Julep” (2010).
Morse has completed filming the Dan Hannon short “The Pond” (opposite Alicia Witt) and “Shanghai,” a mystery directed by Mikael Håfström that stars John Cusack and Gong Li. “Shanghai” will be released in China on June 17, 2010. In addition, he will costar in “Longfellow” (2010), written, directed and starring Martin Donovan, and in an upcoming 2011 psychological thriller titled “Drive Angry.” The latter film will star Nicolas Cage, Kaley Cuoco and Amber Heard.
“I don't care about celebrity. I don't care about getting a good table. I don't know that I care about anything else but getting access to roles that make me believe in something.” David Morse
Gotham: Best Ensemble Cast, “The Hurt Locker,” 2009
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA): Best Ensemble, “The Hurt Locker,” 2009
Philadelphia FirstGlance Film Festival: First Glance Award, 2003
Lucille Lortel: Outstanding Actor, “How I Learned to Drive,” 1997
Drama Desk: Outstanding Actor, “How I Learned to Drive,” 1997
Obie: Performance, “How I Learned to Drive,” 1997