Donnie Wahlberg had an interesting answer to what Blue Bloods scene was easiest for him as a director. The New Kid on the Block directed an episode in season 4 called “Manhattan Queens.”
Wahlberg told Entertainment Tonight that the easiest to shoot was one of the most logistically difficult to set up. It was the Reagans family dinner scene. And that’s because while there are a lot of moving parts, the cast is so in tune with one another.
“But it’s actually the easiest scene to direct because it kind of directs itself,” he said. “We have so much fun when we’re doing the scene, and we work out the scripts as actors. I’m not really working with them as a director, I’m just one of the actors taking care of my fellow actors and making sure we feel like have a cohesive scene.”
The weekly dinners are a centerpiece of the show. And filming them requires having the entire ensemble cast seated around a single table. This must take hours to set up logistically and shoot. But Wahlberg said it’s just to film as it is to watch.
And because they’re so technically challenging to film, they’re usually one of the first set-ups of the day.
“We usually shoot the dinner scene actually fairly early in the morning,” Sami Gayle said in a 2018 interview with a CBS affiliate. “We actually call it the family breakfast.”
So, just remember the next Blue Bloods episode you watch that they’re eating those cold mashed potatoes at 8 a.m.
Dinner Scene Was First Thing ‘Blue Bloods’ Filmed
According Bridget Moynahan, who plays Erin Reagan, the first thing they filmed as a cast was a dinner scene.
“Our first day all together was a family scene. We shook hands, introduced ourselves, and dove right into our relationships,” Moynahan told CBS This Morning in 2017.
“The family dinner scene was our first day at work. So it was kind of ‘How do you do, we’re family,’” Tom Selleck added.
But while that may seem like trial by flambé, it actually makes a lot of sense. The family dinners are the heart and soul of Blue Bloods. And if the cast couldn’t get correct — or if one actor stuck out — producers could course correct and make adjustments. Had they filmed an entire episode only to find out that one of the players wasn’t right in the room, it could have killed the show. Because the dinners were always going to be a weekly set-piece, Selleck said.
“I met with Leonard – I knew Leonard – for the show and read the script. I said, ‘You know what I really like in this thing is this family dinner. But it’s about eight pages long and the network’s going to cut that out right?’” Selleck said in a 2017 interview. “And he said, ‘No, that is a set piece of the show. So that was a deliberate design of Leonard’s from day one.”