‘Blue Bloods’: How Donnie Wahlberg Compares His Own Family Dinners to the Reagans’

by Jennifer Shea

By now, 11 seasons into the series, “Blue Bloods” star Donnie Wahlberg is an expert at family dinner scenes. The show’s epic family dinner table get-togethers have become legendary.

But in Wahlberg’s own life, those dinner table moments were not quite so refined. In a 2011 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, the “Blue Bloods” star reflected on his own Sunday dinner table scenes growing up.

“Wahlberg family dinner?” Wahlberg asked rhetorically, snickering. “My old man would not be sitting at the table. He’d be sitting in the corner on a stool with a Schlitz in his hand, and if we started laughing he’d be screaming at us to shut up.”

‘Blue Bloods’ Star Had a Rough Childhood

Wahlberg grew up in Boston’s working-class Dorchester neighborhood. He was one of nine children. And their family dinners were a little more cutthroat.

“We’d be fighting over who got the last piece of chicken,” Wahlberg recalled. “There wouldn’t be any pie. There wouldn’t be any dessert at all.”

Nowadays, Wahlberg gets all the pie he wants. In fact, during a long morning of shooting back in 2011, Wahlberg ate slice after slice of apple pie while the other actors were daintily picking at their food, ever conscious of the cameras.

“The whole show is going to be me eating pie,” Wahlberg later joked back in his dressing room.

Wahlberg’s co-star Bridget Moynahan told the Inquirer that while Tom Selleck, who plays NYPD Commissioner and family patriarch Frank Reagan, is the face of the show, Wahlberg is the engine.

“Donnie leads by example,” Selleck added. “You saw him at the dinner table. He eats a lot. He’s got boundless energy.”

Family Dinner Scenes Are Tough to Film

The family dinner scenes are a key moment in each episode of “Blue Bloods.” They bring the whole family together and provide a little interpersonal drama to boot.

Still, the scenes are not without some pain for the cast members, who have to keep eating take after take.

“It’s nice to spend time with the entire cast once an episode, but filming an eating scene is miserable,” Selleck told CinemaBlend in 2019. “Well, the eating part is. You have to eat the same foods over and over again to get all the shots. We’ll probably spend eight hours shooting this scene.”

But Moynahan maintained that the scenes are a bonding experience. When they’re not acting for the cameras, they’re updating each other on their personal lives.

“It’s that one event every episode that we get together, and in-between scenes we’re catching up on each other’s lives,” Moynahan told Country Living in 2018. “So that family dinner provides that social life for the cast every single week. It’s like a built-in date.”

Sounds like Wahlberg found a family dinner table that’s a little more harmonious than the one he grew up with.