We Love It When His Plans Come Together
TWoP: Well, for a writer, you certainly have plenty of acting credits to you name. You were practically a regular on Renegade, and you even look like you could've been the lead in one of your shows. Did you always have the acting bug?
Cannell: Well, not really. What happened was that I got along very well with actors because I'm not about power -- I don't believe power belongs in a creative environment. I always took a position with my actors of, "We're going to be partners, and one of my goals is to make certain that you're happy because I don't want us to be scowling at each other two years from now. When I come to the set, I want you to be happy to see me." So I got along really well with these guys, and then after the shows would go down, they started hiring me as an actor. Tom Selleck gave me my first acting job on a Magnum. He said, "Come down to Hawaii, man, we'll have some fun together." So I went there, and then Mario Van Peebles, who I had in Sonny Spoon, hired me to be in a Western called Posse and then his dad Melvin hired me to be in a cop drama in New York. And I just started getting these jobs. I wasn't really pursuing them, but they were fun to do because they were very similar, in a way, to writing: you get to create a character in your head and then try to become him, which is what I do at the typewriter. So it just started to happen. And at the beginning I don't think I was very good, to be honest with you, but they were my friends. After Renegade, I got to the point where I thought I could do it pretty well and I had some really nice roles on some shows. And now when I go to do an acting job, I always feel I can get there for the producer.