‘Blue Bloods’: How Donnie Wahlberg Relates to the Reagan Family Dinner Scenes in Real Life

by Jennifer Shea

“Blue Bloods” star Donnie Wahlberg comes from a big family. He’s got five brothers and had three sisters, one of whom died. So he can relate to the Reagan family dinner scenes on the show.

In a 2016 interview with CBS News, Wahlberg revealed that he saw his own family reflected in some of those epic scenes. He said he’s playing a character, Danny Reagan, who is both similar to and different from himself.

“My original connection to the show was the family element,” Wahlberg explained. “And, you know, reading the family dinner scene, and Danny arguing with Bridget Moynahan’s character, Erin, reminded me of my sister Trixie. But there’s also, you know, it’s been a fascinating journey playing this character. Because as I’ve gotten to know police work and as I’ve gotten to know this character, it’s sort of, it was a lot different than I was. And it is very informative in a lot of ways.”

Wahlberg said that learning the intricacies of police work – for example, the protocol that requires police to cuff a suspect they’ve shot before putting him into an ambulance – was often surprising. But he had to know those things to play Danny Reagan “full-on.”

Watch Wahlberg talk about “Blue Bloods” here (at 2:15):

Wahlberg Got Emotional After His ‘Blue Bloods’ Co-Star’s Departure

As fans of “Blue Bloods” know, Amy Carlson, who played Danny Reagan’s wife Linda, left the show after Season 7. The show’s writers killed Linda off in a helicopter crash. And so Wahlberg had to portray a grief-stricken Danny in the show’s next season.

In a 2019 interview with Watch! magazine, Wahlberg said he had to film the scene in which audiences learn that Linda died at a pretty intense moment in his own life. And it demanded really disciplined focus from the actor.

“For that whole episode, when Linda’s death was first revealed, I was also on tour with my band,” Wahlberg shared. “I literally came from an arena packed full of thousands of screaming people, got on the tour bus, drove to the set, pulled up next to the makeup trailer, then walked onto the set and had to do the first scene—in a psychiatrist’s chair—revealing that Linda was dead.”

Nonetheless, Wahlberg managed to get “really teary” in the scene without overdoing it, he said. It was a difficult balance to strike, but he’d had practice juggling the competing demands of music and acting.

“I had to walk this tightrope of emotions and make it plausible,” Wahlberg added. To summon the emotions he needed, he said he thought about Carlson and how she wasn’t there anymore after seven years of working together.

No doubt about it, the “Blue Bloods” cast has formed strong bonds during the course of the show. And fortunately, since CBS has renewed the show, fans can expect more family dinner scenes in Season 12.