David Morse (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

David Morse
David Morse headshot.jpg
David Morse in 2008
BornDavid Bowditch Morse
(1953-10-11) October 11, 1953 (age 61)
Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, singer, television director, writer
Years active1980–present
Spouse(s)Susan Wheeler Duff (m. 1982)
Jump to: navigation, search
David Morse
David Morse headshot.jpg
David Morse in 2008
BornDavid Bowditch Morse
(1953-10-11) October 11, 1953 (age 61)
Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationActor, singer, television director, writer
Years active1980–present
Spouse(s)Susan Wheeler Duff (m. 1982)

David Bowditch Morse[1][2] (born October 11, 1953) is an American actor, singer, director, and writer. He first came to national attention as Dr. Jack Morrison in the medical drama series St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988. He continued his film career with roles in Dancer in the Dark, The Indian Runner, The Negotiator, Contact, The Green Mile, Disturbia, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Crossing Guard, The Rock, Extreme Measures, 12 Monkeys, 16 Blocks, and Hounddog.

In 2006, Morse had a recurring role as Detective Michael Tritter on the medical drama series House, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. He portrayed George Washington in the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams, which garnered him a second Emmy nomination. He has also received acclaim for his portrayal of Uncle Peck on the Off-Broadway play How I Learned to Drive, earning a Drama Desk Award and Obie Award. He had success on Broadway too, portraying James "Sharky" Harkin in The Seafarer. From 2010 to 2013, he portrayed Terry Colson, an honest police officer in a corrupt New Orleans police department, on the HBO series Treme.

Early life[edit]

Morse was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Jacquelyn, a school teacher, and Charles Morse, a sales manager.[3] He was raised in Hamilton, Massachusetts. His middle name, Bowditch, comes from mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch.[1]


Film and television[edit]

Morse studied acting at the William Esper Studio.[4] He began his acting career in the theater as a player for the Boston Repertory Theatre in the early 1970s.[5] He spent some time in New York's theater community in the early 1980s, before moving into television and film.[5] During that time, Morse was listed as one of the twelve most "Promising New Actors of 1980" in John A. Willis' Screen World, Vol. 32.[6] Morse's big break came in 1982 when he was cast in the television medical drama St. Elsewhere. He played Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison, a young physician who is forced to deal with the death of his wife and the struggles of a single parent professional.[7]

Morse appeared in a number of supporting roles following the finale of St. Elsewhere in 1988. He is quoted as saying: "I made the decision that I didn't care if there was any money in the role or not. I had to find roles that were different from what I had been doing."[8] His turn in Desperate Hours as antagonist showed a darker Morse.[8] He later starred in The Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard. He has appeared in three adaptations of Stephen King stories: The Langoliers, Hearts in Atlantis, and The Green Mile. He was a guest star on Homicide: Life on the Street, playing the racist cousin of Detective Tim Bayliss.[9]

Morse in 2005

In 2002, Morse starred as Mike Olshansky, an ex-Philadelphia police officer turned cab driver, in the television film Hack. The film was so well received that a television series with the same name was created. For his role in the 2002 crime-drama film Shuang Tong, Morse was nominated as Best Supporting Actor in the Golden Horse Awards, the first ever nomination for an English-speaking actor. He appeared as questionable neighbor Mr. Turner in the 2007 release Disturbia. Film critic and commentator John Podhoretz wrote that Morse is a "largely unsung character actor who enlivens and deepens every movie fortunate enough to have him in the cast".[10]

In 2006, Morse received a phone call from David Shore, having previously worked with him on the Hack series, who asked him if he would be interested in having a guest role on House. When Morse watched the show, he could not understand why people watched the show, because he believe that "this House guy is a total jerk". When he told some of his friends about the offer, however, their excited reactions convinced him to accept the role.[11] Morse portrayed Michael Tritter, a detective with a vendetta against Gregory House. He earned his first Emmy Award nomination for his work on the series.[12]

In 2008, Morse portrayed George Washington in the HBO mini-series John Adams, for which his nose was made bigger. Morse commented: "The first thing that comes to mind is my nose; it was my big idea to do that nose. We didn't have a lot of time, because they asked me to do this about three weeks before they started shooting, and I just kept looking at these portraits and thinking 'this man's face is so commanding'. And I did not feel that my face was very commanding in the way his was. So I convinced them that we should try the nose, and we tried it on, and everybody went 'wow, that's Washington'."[11] Morse's portrayal earned him his second Emmy Award nomination. He is currently reprising the role of Washington in voice form as part of the The Hall of Presidents show in Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom.

Morse has stated that out of all of the films he has done, his favorites are The Green Mile,[13] The Crossing Guard, and The Indian Runner.[11] In 2010, he guest starred in two episodes of the HBO drama series Treme, as Lt. Terry Colson of the New Orleans Police Department. He was promoted to series regular starting with the show's second season, which began in April 2011. Later that year, Morse won the best actor award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for his role in Collaborator.[14] He played an ex-CIA agent in the film World War Z (2013). He will play the late NFL player, Mike Webster, in the upcoming biopic of Dr. Bennet Omalu starring Will Smith.


In addition to his film and television career, Morse has continued to appear on stage. For his performance in the 1997 Off-Broadway production of Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama How I Learned to Drive, he received an Obie Award, a Drama League Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a Lucille Lortel Award. That same year, he played Father Barry in the play adaptation of On the Waterfront. The play ran for only eight performances.[15] From 2007 to 2008, Morse appeared on Broadway in Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer.[16][17]

Personal life[edit]

Morse has three younger siblings.[5] He has been married to actress and author of The Habit, Susan Wheeler Duff Morse since 1982. They have one daughter, Eliza, and twin sons Benjamin and Samuel.[5] After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Morse and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they currently live.[8][13]



1980Inside MovesJerry Maxwell
1981Our Family BusinessPhilTelevision film
1982Max Dugan ReturnsShoe Store Cop
1983PrototypeMichaelTelevision film
1984Shattered VowsFather TimTelevision film
1985When Dreams Come TrueRobert WyntonTelevision film
1987Place at the TableTelevision film
1987Personal FoulBen
1987Six Against the RockMarvin HubbardTelevision film
1987Downpayment on MurderDet. JacksonTelevision film
1988WinnieThomasTelevision film
1989Brotherhood of the RoseChris / RemusTelevision film
1989Cross of FireKlell HenryTelevision film
1990Desperate HoursAlbert
1991Cry in the Wild: The Taking of Peggy AnnBicycle PeteTelevision film
1991The Indian RunnerJoe Roberts
1992Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez DisasterRick SteinerTelevision film
1993Miracle on Interstate 880Dr. Jim BettsTelevision film
1993The Good SonJack Evans
1994The GetawayJim "Deer" Jackson
1994Magic Kid IIJack
1995The Taming Power of the Small
1995The LangoliersCaptain Brian EngleTelevision film
1995Tecumseh: The Last WarriorGallowayTelevision film
1995The Crossing GuardJohn BoothNominated – Best Supporting Male at the Independent Spirit Awards
199512 MonkeysDr. Peters
1996The RockMajor Tom Baxter
1996Extreme MeasuresFBI Agent Frank Hare
1996The Long Kiss GoodnightLuke / Daedalus
1997George BGeorge
1997Murder Live!Frank McGrathTelevision film
1997ContactTed Arroway
1998The Legend of Pig Eye
1998The NegotiatorAdam Beck
1999Crazy in AlabamaDove Bullis
1999The Green MileBrutus "Brutal" HowellNominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000BaitEdgar Clenteen
2000Dancer in the DarkBill Houston
2000Proof of LifePeter Bowman
2001Diary of a City PriestFather John McNamee
2001Hearts in AtlantisAdult Bobby Garfield
2002The Slaughter RuleGideon "Gid" Ferguson
2002Double VisionKevin RichterNominated – Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Film Festival
2005Down in the ValleyWade
2005Nearing GraceShep Nearing
2005Dreamer: Inspired by a True StoryPalmer
2006A.W.O.L.Major Cliff Marquette
200616 BlocksDet. Frank Nugent
2007DisturbiaRobert Turner
2009The Hurt LockerColonel ReedGotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
WAFCA Award for Best Ensemble
2010Mother and ChildTom
2010ShanghaiRichard Astor
2010Mint JulepKarl
2010The PondAdam 11Short film
2011Drive AngryWebster
2011Winter in the BloodAirplane Man
2011CollaboratorGus WilliamsKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Award for Best Actor[14]
Nominated – Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Canadian Screen Awards
2012The Odd Life of Timothy GreenJames "Big Jim" Green Sr.
2013HornsDale Williams
2013McCanickEugene "Mack" McCanickProducer
2013World War ZEx-CIA Agent
2015The BoyActorPost-production
2016Game BrainMike WebsterFilming[18]


1981NurseKevin MalloryEpisode: "Equal Opportunity"
1982–1988St. ElsewhereDr. Jack Morrison137 episodes
Directed episodes:
"A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking"
1987Friday the 13th: The SeriesWrote and directed episode:
"A Friend to the End"
1987KnowzoneHost13 episodes
1989Midnight CallerChandlerEpisode: "Wait Until Midnight"
1992The Hat SquadEpisode: "Frankie Stein"
1992Tales from the CryptTom McMurdoEpisode: "Showdown"
1992Reasonable DoubtsEdward DurrellEpisode: "Moment of Doubt"
1993Big Wave Dave'sDave Bell6 episodes
1993SeaQuest DSVLenny SutterEpisode: "SeaWest"
1995Homicide: Life on the StreetJim BaylissEpisode: "Colors"
1995Action ManVoices
1995The New Adventures of MadelinePepitoVoice
1998Stories from My ChildhoodVoices2 episodes
2001Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House DividedAbraham LincolnVoice
2002–2004HackMike Olshansky40 episodes
Wrote episode: "Gone"
2006–2007HouseDet. Michael Tritter6 episodes
2008John AdamsGeorge Washington4 episodes
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Monte-Carlo Television Festival for Outstanding Actor in a Mini Series
2009MediumDouglas Lydecker3 episodes
2009Empire StateJames CochraneEpisode: "Pilot"
2010–2013TremeNOPD Lt. Terry Colson31 episodes
2011Lights OutJerry "The Rainmaker" Raines1 episode
2012Victory in DefeatDouglas MacArthurJapanese series
2012Robot ChickenRobin Hood
The Lorax
Episode: "Butchered in Burbank"
2014Untitled Wall Street ProjectConklinCBS, Pilot
2015The Gettysburg AddressAbraham LincolnDocumentary, Voice


1981ThreadsNubCircle Theatre
1995On the WaterfrontFather Barry
1997–1998How I Learned to DriveUncle PeckCentury Center for the Performing Arts
Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Actor
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor
Obie Award for Best Performance
Nominated—Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor
2007–2008The SeafarerJames "Sharky" Harkin
2013The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin[19]Tom DurninLaura Pels Theatre


  1. ^ a b Patricia, Sheridan (June 23, 2008). "Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... David Morse". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ "People Search: MORSE, DAVID born 10/11/1953". Veromi. Retrieved October 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ "David Morse Biography (1953–)". Filmreference. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  4. ^ "William Esper Studio for Acting". Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d "David Morse Biography". Unofficial David Morse website. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  6. ^ Willis, John (1982). Screen World 1981. Screen World 32. Crown. ISBN 978-0-584-97079-1. 
  7. ^ Thompson, Robert J. "St. Elsewhere". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c Byrne, Bridget (November 8, 2006). "David Morse a 'House' Cop With a Problem". Associated Press. Retrieved August 15, 2008. 
  9. ^ Fontana, Tom; Attanasio, Paul; Mark, Bonnie (1995-04-28). "Colors". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 3. Episode 19. NBC.
  10. ^ Podhoretz, John (April 30, 2007). "Hitchcock Lite; Entertaining, yes, but Shia LaBeouf is no James Stewart". review on Disturbia (The Weekly Standard). pp. 46–47. 
  11. ^ a b c Murray, Noel. "Random Roles: David Morse". The A.V. club. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  12. ^ "The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards and Creative Arts Emmy Awards Nominees are...". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved March 2, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Amodio, Joseph V. (February 24, 2008). "Fast Chat: David Morse". Actor David Morse of 'The Green Mile' and 'Disturbia' is starring on Broadway in 'The Seafarer.' (Newsday). 
  14. ^ a b "‘Restoration’ wins at Karlovy Vary". Variety. Retrieved 4 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "On the Waterfront". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  16. ^ Latifi, Sadia (June 12, 2007). "We Ask David Morse of ‘The Seafarer’ Who's Tougher: The Devil or House?". New York Magazine. Retrieved November 28, 2008. 
  17. ^ "The Seafarer". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  18. ^ http://blogs.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment/mad-about-the-movies/42614-david-morse-as-steeler-mike-webster-in-will-smith-movie
  19. ^ http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/The-Unavoidable-Disappearance-of-Tom-Durnin.aspx

External links[edit]