David Morse (actor)

David Morse

Morse in 2008
Born David Bowditch Morse
(1953-10-11) October 11, 1953
Beverly, Massachusetts, U.S.
Residence Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater William Esper Studio
Occupation Actor, singer, television director, writer
Years active 1980–present
Height 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)[1]
Spouse(s) Susan Wheeler Duff (m. 1982)
Children 3

David Bowditch Morse[2][3] (born October 11, 1953) is an American actor, singer, director and writer. He first came to national attention as Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison in the medical drama series St. Elsewhere (198288). He continued his film career with roles in The Negotiator, Contact, The Green Mile, Disturbia, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Rock and 12 Monkeys.

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. He currently stars in the WGN America series Outsiders.

Early life

Morse was born October 11, 1953, in Beverly, Massachusetts, the son of Jacquelyn, a school teacher, and Charles Morse, a sales manager.[4] He was raised in Essex, Massachusetts and Hamilton, Massachusetts. His middle name, Bowditch, comes from mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch.[2]


Film and television

After graduating from high school in 1971, Morse studied acting at the William Esper Studio.[5] He began his acting career in the theater as a player for the Boston Repertory Theatre in the early 1970s.[6] In the mid-1970s, Esquire Jauchem, artistic director of the Boston Repertory Theater, adapted and directed a stage musical version of The Point! that starred 18-year-old David Morse as Oblio. The production later toured to the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence. He spent some time in New York's theater 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 A. Willis' Screen World, Vol. 32.[7] 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.[8]

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."[9] His turn in Desperate Hours as antagonist showed a darker Morse.[9] 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.[10]

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".[11]

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 believed 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.[12] 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.[13]

In 2008, Morse portrayed George Washington in the HBO miniseries 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'."[12] 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 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,[14] The Crossing Guard, and The Indian Runner.[12] 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.[15] He played an ex-CIA agent in the film World War Z (2013). He played the late NFL player, Mike Webster, in Concussion the 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.[16] From 2007 to 2008, Morse appeared on Broadway in Conor McPherson's play The Seafarer.[17][18]

Personal life

Morse has three younger siblings.[6] 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.[6] After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Morse and his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they currently live.[9][14]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Inside Moves Jerry Maxwell
1981 Our Family Business Phil Television film
1982 Max Dugan Returns Shoe Store Cop
1983 Prototype Michael Television film
1984 Shattered Vows Father Tim Television film
1985 When Dreams Come True Robert Wynton Television film
1987 Place at the Table Tom Williams Television film
1987 Personal Foul Ben
1987 Six Against the Rock Marvin Hubbard Television film
1987 Downpayment on Murder Det. Jackson Television film
1988 Winnie Thomas Television film
1989 Brotherhood of the Rose Chris / Remus Television film
1989 Cross of Fire Klell Henry Television film
1990 Desperate Hours Albert
1991 Cry in the Wild: The Taking of Peggy Ann Bicycle Pete Television film
1991 The Indian Runner Joe Roberts
1992 Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster Rick Steiner Television film
1993 Miracle on Interstate 880 Dr. Jim Betts Television film
1993 The Good Son Jack Evans
1994 The Getaway Jim "Deer" Jackson
1994 Magic Kid II Jack
1995 The Taming Power of the Small
1995 The Langoliers Captain Brian Engle Television film
1995 Tecumseh: The Last Warrior Galloway Television film
1995 The Crossing Guard John Booth Nominated Best Supporting Male at the Independent Spirit Awards
1995 12 Monkeys Dr. Peters
1996 The Rock Major Tom Baxter
1996 Extreme Measures FBI Agent Frank Hare
1996 The Long Kiss Goodnight Luke / Daedalus
1997 George B George
1997 Murder Live! Frank McGrath Television film
1997 Contact Ted Arroway
1998 The Legend of Pig Eye
1998 The Negotiator Adam Beck
1999 Crazy in Alabama Dove Bullis
1999 The Green Mile Brutus "Brutal" Howell Nominated Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000 Bait Edgar Clenteen
2000 Dancer in the Dark Bill Houston
2000 Proof of Life Peter Bowman
2001 Diary of a City Priest Father John McNamee
2001 Hearts in Atlantis Adult Bobby Garfield
2002 The Slaughter Rule Gideon "Gid" Ferguson
2002 Double Vision Kevin Richter Nominated Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Horse Film Festival
2005 Down in the Valley Wade
2005 Nearing Grace Shep Nearing
2005 Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story Everett Palmer
2006 A.W.O.L. Major Cliff Marquette
2006 16 Blocks Det. Frank Nugent
2007 Hounddog Lou
2007 Disturbia Robert Turner
2008 Passengers Arkin
2009 The Hurt Locker Colonel Reed Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
WAFCA Award for Best Ensemble
2010 Mother and Child Tom
2010 Shanghai Richard Astor
2010 Mint Julep Karl
2010 The Pond Adam 11 Short film
2011 Drive Angry Webster
2011 Winter in the Blood Airplane Man
2011 Collaborator Gus Williams Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Award for Best Actor[15]
Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Canadian Screen Awards
2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green James "Big Jim" Green Sr.
2012 Yellow Psychologist
2013 Horns Dale Williams
2013 McCanick Eugene "Mack" McCanick Also producer
2013 World War Z Ex-CIA Agent
2015 The Boy John Henley
2015 Concussion Mike Webster[19]


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Nurse Kevin Mallory Episode: "Equal Opportunity"
1982–1988 St. Elsewhere Dr. Jack Morrison 137 episodes
Directed episodes:
"A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking"
1987 Friday the 13th: The Series Wrote and directed episode:
"A Friend to the End"
1987 Knowzone Host 13 episodes
1989 Midnight Caller Chandler Episode: "Wait Until Midnight"
1992 The Hat Squad Episode: "Frankie Stein"
1992 Tales from the Crypt Tom McMurdo Episode: "Showdown"
1992 Reasonable Doubts Edward Durrell Episode: "Moment of Doubt"
1993 Big Wave Dave's Dave Bell 6 episodes
1993 SeaQuest DSV Lenny Sutter Episode: "SeaWest"
1995 Homicide: Life on the Street Jim Bayliss Episode: "Colors"
1995 Action Man Voices
1995 The New Adventures of Madeline Pepito Voice
1998 Stories from My Childhood Voices 2 episodes
2001 Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided Abraham Lincoln Voice
2002–2004 Hack Mike Olshansky 40 episodes
Wrote episode: "Gone"
2006–2007 House Det. Michael Tritter 6 episodes
2008 John Adams George Washington 4 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
2009 Medium Douglas Lydecker 3 episodes
2009 Empire State James Cochrane Episode: "Pilot"
2010–2013 Treme NOPD Lt. Terry Colson 31 episodes
2011 Lights Out Jerry "The Rainmaker" Raines 1 episode
2012 Victory in Defeat Douglas MacArthur Japanese series
2012 Robot Chicken Robin Hood
The Lorax
Episode: "Butchered in Burbank"
2014 Untitled Wall Street Project Conklin CBS, Pilot
2015 The Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln Documentary
2015 True Detective Eliot Bezzerides 8 episodes
2016 Outsiders "Big Foster" Farrell VI


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Threads Nub Circle Theatre
1995 On the Waterfront Father Barry
19971998 How I Learned to Drive Uncle Peck Century 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
20072008 The Seafarer James "Sharky" Harkin
2013 The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin[20] Tom Durnin Laura Pels Theatre


  1. David Morse - Biography - IMDb
  2. 1 2 Patricia, Sheridan (June 23, 2008). "Patricia Sheridan's Breakfast With ... David Morse". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  3. "People Search: MORSE, DAVID born 10/11/1953". Veromi. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  4. "David Morse Biography (1953–)". Filmreference. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  5. "William Esper Studio for Acting". Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "David Morse Biography". Unofficial David Morse website. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  7. Willis, John (1982). Screen World 1981. Screen World. 32. Crown. ISBN 978-0-584-97079-1.
  8. Thompson, Robert J. "St. Elsewhere". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  9. 1 2 3 Byrne, Bridget (November 8, 2006). "David Morse a 'House' Cop With a Problem". Associated Press. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  10. Fontana, Tom; Attanasio, Paul; Mark, Bonnie (1995-04-28). "Colors". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 3. Episode 19. NBC.
  11. 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.
  12. 1 2 3 Murray, Noel. "Random Roles: David Morse". The A.V. club. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  13. "The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards and Creative Arts Emmy Awards Nominees are...". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  14. 1 2 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. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  15. 1 2 "'Restoration' wins at Karlovy Vary". Variety. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  16. "On the Waterfront". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  17. 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.
  18. "The Seafarer". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved July 26, 2008.
  19. David Morse as Steeler Mike Webster in Will Smith movie. Blogs.post-gazette.com (October 10, 2014). Retrieved on 2015-10-21.
  20. The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin – 2012–2013 Season – Roundabout Theatre Company. Roundabouttheatre.org. Retrieved on October 21, 2015.

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