These days, Len Cariou is best known for his role as Henry Reagan on the hit CBS police drama “Blue Bloods.” 40 years ago, people knew him as the Tony Award-winning Broadway star of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” And in his youth, Cariou made a name for himself as the neighborhood crooner, warbling every day on the way home from school.
It’s safe to say the “Blue Bloods” star is no stranger to the spotlight. Even as a kid, he was entertaining the neighbors to the point of them keeping track of his whereabouts. The old “practice makes perfect” adage seems to apply here, as Cariou’s singing took him to the height of Broadway musicals.
There is hardly a bigger stage for a performer. In the figurative sense, of course. The “Blue Bloods” star’s neighborhood was obviously much bigger than a theater. And after a brief scare where he thought puberty would rob him of his singing forever, Cariou settled into his voice nicely.
In an interview with Stratford Festival, Cariou talked about how he used to put on a show for the neighborhood. All while he was commuting home as a high schooler.
“I used to come home, and I was in the neighborhood. I would come home at nights, you know, to come in, especially in the summertime,” Carious said. “When I would be alone. And on my way home I would sing. So the neighborhood, it became a famous part of the neighborhood, I found out many years later. People used to say, ‘Well, Len’s going to be coming home shortly. Let’s go out on the porch.”
Those neighbors were the first to be graced by a voice that went on to win the highest honor in musical theater.
How Len Cariou and the Cast of ‘Blue Bloods’ Developed Their Characters
Believe it or not, the Reagan family in “Blue Bloods” wasn’t completely fleshed out by the time the show began filming. Everyone knew who they were playing, of course. But the backstories were somewhat incomplete. And to put that into full view, the first scene they were expected to shoot was an intimate family dinner.
In an interview with 92nd Street Y a few years ago, Cariou talked about how the cast was hesitant to shoot the scene first, as they weren’t familiar with each other and each other’s characters.
“And, we all said to Leonard Goldberg, ‘Why are we doing this first?’ I mean, we don’t even know one another. And, we’re supposed to be four generations of, you know,” Cariou said.
Leonard Goldberg was the former executive producer on “Blue Bloods.” And by his reaction, you’d think beginning with the dinner scene was his intention the entire time. He told the cast to dive in. So while the production crew was setting up, the entire cast laid out the personal histories of their characters.