‘Blue Bloods’: Here’s What Tom Selleck and Donnie Walhberg Affectionately Call Each Other

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Fans of Blue Bloods love that the Reagans seem like a real family and that authenticity isn’t manufactured either. The cast feels the same way. So much so that Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg call each other father and son. Though, their relationship wasn’t always so close.

“I call him dad now, and he calls me son … I mean, that’s how we talk to each other off-camera,” Wahlberg told Entertainment Tonight. First, he used to kind of grumble at me, like … ‘This music guy’s kind of weird.’ And then now he calls me son. And he’ll come in and give me a big hug. You know, you get a hug out of Tom Selleck, that’s a big deal.”

Getting those relationships right is central to Blue Bloods’ success. It’s why the family dinner is the most important scene each week. It’s also what grabbed Donnie Wahlberg’s attention when he read the pilot script. He loved how ordinary the Reagans seemed.

Blue Bloods is a throwback show because they don’t make shows that focus on families like this anymore,” Wahlberg told HuffPost. “Nowadays, it’s about the family down the street selling heroin or the husband with three wives. Everything’s focused on the unusual family.

“When I read the pilot, the family dinner scene attracted me most. I’ve felt the heat of my dad staring down at me and my sister while we’re arguing, and that same heat’s there with Tom Selleck and Bridget [Moynahan].”

Tom Selleck Didn’t Think ‘Blue Bloods’ Dinner Scenes Would Last

The family dinner in the pilot also snared Tom Selleck. But when he met with Blue Bloods’ late creator Leonard Goldberg, Selleck was blunt about the scene’s chances of making it on the air.

“When I met with Leonard, I knew Leonard, and I read the script for the show. I read the script I said,’ You know what I really like about this thing is the family dinner scenes. But it’s like eight pages long, and the network is going to cut that out,’” Selleck recalled during a 2017 Q&A. “And he said ‘No, that is a set piece of the show.’ So that was a deliberate design of Leonard’s from day one.”

Goldberg told TV Guide in 2010 that he used the police story as bait to draw in viewers. But he wanted to focus on the family drama.

“There would be a police story — to keep CBS viewers happy — but it really would be a character piece,” he said.

Len Cariou, who plays Henry Reagan on Blue Bloods, said Goldberg pitched the dinners as “the glue” that binds the show.

“That will be the glue that brings it all together,” Cariou remembered Goldberg saying. “We’ll see what Donnie does and what Will does and what Pop does and what Tom does. Then we’ll get it all around the table. And try to educate the kids to give them a little perspective.’ So it was really interesting to me that that was his inspiration.”