‘Blue Bloods’: How Tom Selleck Feels His Character Gets a ‘Certain License’ That Real NYPD Commissioner Would Not

by Josh Lanier

Tom Selleck admits there’s a bit of malleability to the application of the law on his show Blue Bloods. Police officers on the show get away with behavior that skirts the line of protection and persecution, for instance.

But that’s just dramatic television, he told Parade. Because if procedural TV followed the actual procedures, the show would be a lot more paperwork being filed to tense music. Selleck hopes shows such as Blue Bloods are escapism and provide an outlet for the audience.

“There’s plenty of police work to do besides the coronavirus. I’m not saying it isn’t important, it’s everything right now. If you start looking at the promotion of the new season, and each night there are promotions for three shows all about the pandemic, I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Tom Selleck told the magazine.

“Look, we can do things, Frank can do things. Frank has done a number of things in the show that if it became public, he could get fired,” he continued. “It may have been the right thing. He did the wrong thing for the right reasons, and the audience will forgive him for it, they know about that, but if it became public in Frank’s world, he’d probably lose his job. You can’t do that in the real commissioner’s office. So, we have a certain license. And as real as we try to make it, and as much as I’m proud to say the NYPD members like our show, it’s not real. It’s a fictional world.”

Selleck Said He Feels The ‘Responsibility’ Of The Uniform

Fictional or not, Tom Selleck said playing the New York Police Commissioner and learning more about police lives has helped shaped his view of policing. And whenever he wears the police uniform on Blue Bloods, he feels the responsibility.

The topic came up when Selleck discussed the role with CBS’ The Early Show in 2011 with co-stars Bridget Moynahan and Donnie Whalberg.

“Well, trying to be a good actor as we learn about accuracy, I wanted to know what the ribbons were, so I did my homework,” Selleck said. “And right up at the top is a black ribbon that says WTC, and that’s a first responder. And it just reminds us of, I think all of us, of the responsibility.

“Robin Green who wrote for The Sopranos, who’s now writing (Blue Bloods) said at the press conference, you know, we’ve done anti-heroes. We want to do a show about heroes. and I think that is the perception and the reality with NYPD police officers.”

Even Wahlberg said playing a cop has changed his perception of policing. When speaking at a Blue Bloods cast panel in 2017 at the 92nd Street Y, the New Kid on the Block said only the “bad seeds” get attention.

“Police officers don’t always end up in the news for all the great things they do,” Wahlberg said pensively. “They tend to end up in the news for the occasional missteps or mistakes that some make. I can say that the great ones far outnumber the very few bad seeds.”

He said he hopes Blue Bloods can show the multiple sides of policing, and become part of the conversation for change.