‘Blue Bloods’: Why Len Cariou Calls His Role on the Show a ‘Prophecy’

by Josh Lanier

Blue Bloods star Len Cariou accidentally predicted the future. He said he knew he would score a big TV show at the age of 70, so his agents would just have to wait a few decades for that to happen.

He told the story to The Stratford Festival last year.

“When I was a young guy, I went to LA every season you know for pilot season sure, and I couldn’t get arrested,” he joked. “So, after I’d done that for about four years I said to my agents, ‘I said okay guys I’m gonna have a career in the theater and when I’m 70 I’ll do a television series, and you can get your money from me then. And they all went ‘no, no, no, no, don’t be ridiculous.’ And I said sorry, but that’s what I’m gonna do.”

He had an illustrious career in theater after leaving Los Angeles. His list of accomplishments can go toe-to-toe with any of the other Broadway greats. But just after his 70th birthday — as he predicted years before — his agent sent him the script for the Blue Bloods pilot. And Cariou wanted in.

“It was a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.

And as successful as Blue Bloods is, it was worth the wait for his TV agents.

Cariou Didn’t Like ‘Blue Bloods’ First Dinner Scene

During a discussion with the cast at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York, Len Cariou didn’t hold back on Blue Bloods creator Leonard Goldberg.

Famously, the first thing they shot for the pilot of Blue Bloods was a dinner scene. Half the cast hadn’t even really met yet and they had no character backstories. So, when Goldberg told them to sit down and just have a chat, Cariou thought it was amateur hour.

“When we made the pilot, the first scene that we shot was the dinner scene,” Cariou recalled. “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 didn’t rattle Goldberg in the slightest. In fact, he came back with some encouragement for the cast. He believed he had cast the right team to build the backstory and bond quickly.

So, as the crew was setting up the shots, Cariou, Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, and Bridget Moynahan sat there and created their characters’ backstories and inner lives.

“We had to, while they were lighting, we made up a backstory about what we’d done,” Cariou added. “And I said, ‘Well, I guess I was a cop, too. We were all Marines – the three of us were Marines. And then, I was a detective and then went up the ladder and became commissioner and then retired. Well, I probably got pushed out. But anyway, I lost my wife, and so we ended up living together in the same house and that’s where the Reagan dinner happens every Sunday.’”

Goldberg died in 2019 after suffering complications from a fall. He was 85.