David Morse (actor)

David Morse (actor)
David Morse

David Morse in 2008
Born David Bowditch Morse
October 11, 1953 (1953-10-11) (age 58)
Hamilton, Massachusetts,
United States
Occupation Actor, singer, television director and writer
Years active 1980–present
Spouse Susan Wheeler Duff
(1982–present; 3 children)

David Bowditch Morse[1][2] (born October 11, 1953) is an American stage, television, and film actor. He first came to national attention as Dr. Jack Morrison in the medical drama St. Elsewhere from 1982 to 1988. Morse continued his movie career with roles in Dancer in the Dark, The Negotiator, 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 House for which he received an Emmy Award nomination.[3] Morse portrayed George Washington in the 2008 HBO Miniseries John Adams, which garnered him a second Emmy nomination.[4] Morse has received acclaim for his portrayal of Uncle Peck on the Off-Broadway play How I Learned to Drive for which he earned a Drama Desk and Obie Award. He also had success on Broadway, portraying James "Sharky" Harkin in The Seafarer. As of 2011, Morse is a regular on the HBO series, Treme, where he plays an honest police officer in a corrupt department.


Early life

Morse was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the son of Jacquelyn, a school teacher, and Charles Morse, a sales manager.[5] He has three younger sisters.[6] His middle name, Bowditch, comes from mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch.[1]


Morse studied acting at the William Esper Studio.[7] He began his acting career in the theatre as a player for the Boston Repertory Theatre in the early 1970s.[6] He spent some time in New York's theatre community in the early 1980s before moving into television and film.[6] During that time, Morse was listed as one of the twelve most "Promising New Actors of 1980" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 32.[8] Morse's big break came in 1982 when he was cast in the television medical drama St. Elsewhere. Morse 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.[9]

Morse appeared in a number of supporting roles following the finale of "St. Elsewhere" in 1988. The actor 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".[10]. His turn in "Desperate Hours" as antagonist showed a darker Morse [10]. Morse later starred in The Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard, written and directed by then novice auteur and writer Sean Penn. So far, Morse has appeared in three adaptations of Stephen King stories: The Langoliers, Hearts in Atlantis, and The Green Mile. Additionally Morse was a guest star on Homicide: Life on the Street, playing the racist cousin of Detective Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor).[11]

In 2002, Morse starred as Mike Olshansky, an ex-Philadelphia police officer turned cab driver, in the television movie Hack. The movie was so well received that a television series was created (also with the title Hack), which ran from 2002 to 2004. 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 nomination ever for an English-speaking actor. His most recent big-screen appearance was as questionable neighbor Mr. Turner in the 2007 release Disturbia. In a review of this film, 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".[12]

Morse in 2005.

In 2006, Morse received a phone call from David Shore, whom he had previously worked with on Hack, 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, in his words, "This House guy is a total jerk". But when he told some of his friends, their excited reactions convinced Morse to take the part.[13] Morse portrayed Michael Tritter, a detective with a vendetta against Gregory House. Morse earned his first Emmy Award nomination for his work on the series.[3]

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'."[13] Morse's portrayal earned him his second Emmy Award nomination.[4] He is currently "reprising" the role of George Washington, in voice only, as part of the The Hall of Presidents show in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Morse stated that out of all of the films he has done, his favorites are The Green Mile,[14] The Crossing Guard, and The Indian Runner.[13]

In 2010, Morse guest starred in two episodes of the HBO drama series, Treme, as Lt. Terry Colson of the New Orleans Police Department. Morse was promoted to series regular starting with season two of the show, which began in April 2011.


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 Morse played Father Barry in the play adaptation of On the Waterfront along with James Gandolfini and Penelope Ann Miller. The play only ran for a week, with just eight performances.[15] From 2007 to 2008, Morse appeared on Broadway in Conor McPherson's The Seafarer.[16][17]

Personal life

Morse has been married to actress Susan Wheeler Duff since June 19, 1982.[6] They have three children: one daughter and twin sons.[6] In 1994, Morse moved to Philadelphia with his family after the 1994 Northridge earthquake to be near his wife's family.[10][14]


Film work

Year Film Role Notes
1980 Inside Moves Jerry Maxwell
1981 Our Family Business Phil TV movie
1982 Max Dugan Returns Shoe Store Cop
1983 Prototype Michael TV movie
1984 Shattered Vows Father Tim TV movie
1985 When Dreams Come True Robert Wynton TV movie
1987 Place at the Table TV movie
Personal Foul
Six Against the Rock Marvin Hubbard TV movie
Downpayment on Murder Det. Jackson TV movie
1988 Winnie Thomas TV movie
1989 Cross of Fire TV movie
1990 Desperate Hours Albert
1991 Two-Fisted Tales Tom McMurdo Segment: "Showdown"
Cry in the Wild: The Taking of Peggy Ann Bicycle Pete TV movie
The Indian Runner Joe Roberts
1992 Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster Rick Steiner TV movie
1993 Miracle on Interstate 880 Dr. Jim Betts TV movie
The Good Son Jack
1994 The Getaway Jim Deer Jackson
Magic Kid II Jack
1995 The Taming Power of the Small
The Langoliers Captain Brian Engle TV movie
Tecumseh: The Last Warrior Galloway TV movie
The Crossing Guard John Booth Nominated: Best Supporting Male at the Independent Spirit Awards
12 Monkeys Dr. Peters
1996 The Rock Major Tom Baxter
Extreme Measures FBI Agent Frank Hare
The Long Kiss Goodnight Luke/Daedalus
1997 George B George
Murder Live! Frank McGrath TV movie
Contact Ted Arroway
1998 The Legend of Pig Eye
The Negotiator Adam Beck
1999 Crazy in Alabama Dove Bullis
The Green Mile Brutus "Brutal" Howell Nominated: Best Cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
2000 Bait Edgar Clenteen
Dancer in the Dark Bill Houston Also performed the song "Smith & Wesson" in the film.
Proof of Life Peter Bowman
2001 Diary of a City Priest Father John McNamee
Hearts in Atlantis Bobby Garfield (Adult)
2002 The Slaughter Rule Gideon "Gid" Ferguson
Hack Mike Olshansky TV movie preceding the TV show of the same name.
Double Vision Kevin Richter Nominated: Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Film Festival
2005 Down in the Valley Wade
Nearing Grace Shep Nearing
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story Palmer
2006 A.W.O.L. Marquette
16 Blocks Det. Frank Nugent
St. Elsewhere: The Place to Be Himself; Dr. Jack Morrison Direct-to-video
2007 Hounddog Daddy
Disturbia Robert Turner
2008 Passengers Arkin
2009 The Hurt Locker Colonel Reed Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
2010 Mother and Child Tom
Shanghai Richard Astor
Mint Julep Karl
2011 Drive Angry Webster
Winter in the Blood Airplane Man
Collaborator Gus

Television work

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Nurse Kevin Mallory Episode: Equal Opportunity
1982–1988 St. Elsewhere Dr. Jack Morrison Also directed the episodes
"A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking"
and "Handoff"
1987 Friday the 13th Director/Writer Episode: A Friend to the End
1989 Brotherhood of the Rose Chris/Remus Miniseries
Midnight Caller Chandler Episode: Wait Until Midnight
1992 The Hat Squad Episode: Frankie Stein
Tales from the Crypt Episode: Showdown
Reasonable Doubts Edward Durrell Episode: Moment of Doubt
1993 Big Wave Dave's Dave Bell Short running sitcom
SeaQuest DSV Lenny Sutter Episode: SeaWest
Homicide: Life on the Street Jim Bayliss Episode: Colors
Action Man Additional Voices
2001 Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided Abraham Lincoln Miniseries; Voice Role
2002–2004 Hack Mike Olshansky Also wrote the episode "Gone".
House Det. Michael Tritter Episodes:
Fools for Love
Que Será Será
Son of Coma Guy
Finding Judas
Merry Little Christmas
Words and Deeds
Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor - Drama Series
2008 John Adams George Washington Miniseries; Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor - Miniseries or a Movie.[4]
2009 Medium Douglas Lydecker three episodes
2010 Treme NOPD Lieutenant Terry Colson Episodes:
Shame, Shame, Shame
Wish Someone Would Care
I'll Fly Away
2011 Lights Out



Title Role Run
On the Waterfront Father Barry May 1, 1995 – May 7, 1995
The Seafarer James "Sharky" Harkin December 6, 2007 – March 30, 2008


Title Role Run Theatre Notes
Threads Nub October 25, 1981 – November 22, 1981 Circle Theatre
How I Learned to Drive Peck May 6, 1997 – April 19, 1998 Century Center for the Performing Arts Won: Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Actor
Won: Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor
Won: Obie Award for Performance
Nominated: Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor


  1. ^ a b Patricia, Sheridan (June 23, 2008). "Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... David Morse". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.pittsburgpost.com/pg/08175/891886-129.stm. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ "People Search: MORSE, DAVID born 10/11/1953". Veromi. http://www.veromi.net/Summary.asp?fn=David&mn=&ln=Morse&dobmm=10&dobdd=11&doby=1953&city=&state=&age=&vw=&Search=&Input=&x=0&y=0. Retrieved October 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards and Creative Arts Emmy Awards Nominees are...". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. http://www.emmys.org/awards/2007pt/59thnominations.php. Retrieved March 2, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c "Complete 2008 Nominations List". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. July 17, 2008. http://cdn.emmys.tv/awards/2008pte/60thpte_noms.php. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  5. ^ "David Morse Biography (1953–)". Filmreference. http://www.filmreference.com/film/60/David-Morse.html. Retrieved July 25, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "David Morse Biography". Unofficial David Morse website. http://www.davidmorse.org/bio/. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  7. ^ "William Esper Studio for Acting". http://www.nycastings.com/Resources_s/ViewResourceDetail.asp?Qn=98. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  8. ^ Willis, John. 1981 Film Annual Screen World. Screen World. 32. Crown. ISBN 05849707. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Robert J.. "St. Elsewhere". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/S/htmlS/stelsewhere/stelsewhere.htm. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c Byrne, Bridget (November 8, 2006). "David Morse a 'House' Cop With a Problem". Associated Press. http://www.austin360.com/tv/content/tv/stories/2006/11/9davidmorse.html. Retrieved August 15, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Colors". Fontana, Tom; Attanasio, Paul; Mark, Bonnie. Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC. 1995-04-28. No. 19, season 3.
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ a b c Murray, Noel. "Random Roles: David Morse". The A.V. club. http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/random_roles_david_morse?utm_source=imdb_rss_1. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 
  14. ^ 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). 
  15. ^ "On the Waterfront". The Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=4298. 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. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/12/we_ask_david_morse_of_the_seaf.html. Retrieved November 28, 2008. 
  17. ^ "The Seafarer". The Internet Broadway Database. http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=462798. Retrieved July 26, 2008. 

External links

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