In Friday night’s episode of Blue Bloods entitled, “Officer Down,” Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) orders the entire NYPD to track down a killer of a police officer who was shot and killed during a diamond heist. Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) delves into the investigation to track down the killer by doing whatever it takes.
Earlier this week, Blue Bloods star Donnie Wahlberg took the time to talk to the press about the upcoming “Officer Down” episode. Wahlberg also discussed what attracted him to the role of Danny Reagan, the relationships between himself and the cast members, and the pressure of being on a successful series.
In “Officer Down,” Wahlberg’s character is absolutely driven to find out who killed the off-duty cop. He discussed the struggle of playing his character Danny Reagan in this week’s episode, as well as respecting the text of the script.
“Sometimes the writer and the story have [their] own purpose and that’s to get from point A to point Z, in an entertaining and dramatic way with information and keep the audience informed. Playing Danny, I looked at every single person connected to the case as a cop killer. There’s an element of truth to that. I think that if an officer does go down in the real world, everyone associated with it is involved with the cop being killed. I think that raises the stakes for everything. For example, in an early scene in the episode where there’s an electrician guy being interrogated, to me he was in cahoots with those guys. Danny’s take is that they’re all guilty, and they’re all involved, therefore they’re all cop killers,” Wahlberg said.
Wahlberg said the challenge was bringing that spirit into every scene, even if the script didn’t suggest exactly what his character was feeling. He wanted to respect the text in the script along with respecting his character in how Danny would react in this cop killer situation. He wanted to make sure that it was coming across that Danny was “doing everything he can to see that justice is being done in his eyes.”
Wahlberg continued to explain, “Danny’s want for justice is bigger than he understands. I don’t think he knows really what’s pushing him. I don’t know if Donnie knows what’s pushing Danny at this point, there’s a lot still to be discovered with these characters. There’s a lot of curiosity as to what happened to Danny’s brother (Joe Reagan) in the show. He was killed in the line of duty investigating the Blue Templar, which Danny may be a part of. There’s a lot of mystery to that.”
Wahlberg spoke about the freedom that he has as actor with his role of Danny Reagan where he said that his favorite days on set are the ones where even if he’s being guided by the script, that he’s still able to make discoveries about his character and try things that are free and off-the-cuff.
“Today on the set, I did kind of a quasi-Colombo moment. It was really fun and it didn’t feel false, it felt like within the realm of Danny. It’s what attracted to this role. This part, besides the fact that I love the cast and I love Tom, and I loved the pilot’s script, I really loved the freedom that this character presented to me as an actor.”
He continued to talk about his character at length, including how his character may view Selleck’s character and how he didn’t want to research into the background of the two characters in favor of learning new things with each new episode.
“He’s [Danny] a very experienced guy who marches to the beat of his own drum, but he is the son of a very powerful man. That’s the part I really wanted to explore a lot. With each scene that Danny has for example with Frank, what’s it’s like to be a son of a powerful man who’s sort of following in his footsteps, but trying to be your own man. I’m sure there’s gratitude. I’m sure there’s times where he takes full advantage of his relationship with his dad. And I’m sure there’s times where he resents that relationship tremendously and thinks it’s a burden or gives him privilege that he shouldn’t have or hasn’t earned.”
Wahlberg continued: “There’s so much in that relationship that I didn’t want to research, I wanted to discover with each episode. I wanted to try a different take. The reality is there’s no one answer. I’m not playing a guy who simply resents a dad or simply worships his dad. I’m playing a guy who runs the full gamut of everything in between both of those scenarios. Each scene offers me a chance to play a different color or a different shade of that.”
Wahlberg said that he feels that the family aspect of Blue Bloods is working for the audience, which is also is something that works for the cast. When he initally read the family scene in the pilot, he could picture being across the table from his own sister saying his lines to her.
“When something resonates like that so truthfully it definitely creates an attraction. I knew when I did that dinner scene, I knew I was going to have a good time doing it. I knew it would [be] tense, I knew it would be fun, and I knew it would be live. When you’re doing television, it’s a grind and you’re working five days a week and for me personally, I looked for something that’s gonna make me feel alive. My character has a lot of freedom, which makes me feel alive. The family scenes have a lot truth in them and that makes me feel alive. I think to feel alive a few days a week during episodic television, it’s a gift to feel that sort of electricity and I get to feel it more than most.”
Wahlberg discussed his relationships with his Blue Bloods cast mates Bridget Moynahan (Erin Reagan-Boyle), Will Estes (Jamie Reagan), and Selleck. He said that he and Moynahan have a very good brotherly/sisterly relationship, which translates well on screen when they work together. With Estes, he feels like he can see see part of himself in him.
“Sometimes when I look at Will, it’s like looking at myself 10 years ago on Boomtown. I see him wanting to explore certain elements of his character’s story the way I did on Boomtown. I remember walking around after the first 11 episodes going, ‘When are we going to talk about my suicidal wife?’ and carrying that with me into every scene that I did, and I see Will doing that. Like an older brother, I’m able to identify it, see it, recognize it and sometimes help and encourage it depending on what the situation calls for,” he said.
“When I was Will’s age, I wanted every single part of my character’s story to come out like in the very first episode after the pilot. In every subsequent script I would say, ‘Man, when are we going to get to it?’ The reality is with age and with experience comes a little bit more patience. Of course, I want to get to it, but I’m not desperate to get to it. In a perfect world, Will has a couple of seasons to explore all of this stuff. You run out of material after awhile in TV. The more we can come up with good stuff like Friday’s episode, ‘Officer Down’ and not have to go there quite yet, the more we can save that for when it’s the right time and it’s really needed.”
The actor stated: “Obviously, I want to go into a lot of stuff that’s going on with a lot of these characters. Not just Danny, I want to know what’s going on with Will, and I want to see whether or not he’s going to investigate the Blue Templar. I’m very curious and obviously that will have implications for my character. I want to see how it all goes. Fortunately things are going great and hopefully we’ll get a chance to explore a lot of that stuff. It’s definitely what we all want, the writers and the cast.”
Wahlberg said that Selleck is like the dad to the cast. As much as Selleck knows that Wahlberg likes to have fun on set, he also knows that he’s there to get work done. He said it was like Frank putting up with Danny sticking people’s heads in toilets was like Selleck putting up with him tweeting to fans to watch the show in between takes on the set.
He went on to say about Selleck that he was encouraged by his humility after being so successful, and that is something he is continually trying to attain in his own life.
Wahlberg says that he tries not think about the pressure about being on a new show that has been so successful right out the gate. Currently, Blue Bloods is the number two new drama of the fall season. It has been number one for the past two Friday nights, as well as being number one with viewers and the show’s targeted demographics.
“If I think about it, it only adds pressure, so I just try to not to think about it, because reality is, I control none of that. I just control what I do. For actors, for anybody dealing with numbers or polls; the more you look, the more pressure you put on yourself. If you get 20 million viewers on day one, if you look at the numbers on day two and they’re down to 19 million, you suddenly start going, ‘What happened?’ The reality is that [we have] a couple million more viewers than anybody thought we would get and that’s good news. What we do on set and what we talk about is really how to control what we can control and finding the right mix about what works for our audience and identifying who they are, and servicing what they want and also servicing our characters as best we can.”
Blue Bloods‘ latest episode, “Officer Down” airs this Friday, October 15 at 10 p.m. on CBS.