‘Blue Bloods’: Why Tom Selleck Felt Intimidated About Playing a Dad on the Show

by Josh Lanier

Tom Selleck wasn’t worried that he could play the New York Police Commissioner in Blue Bloods. That wasn’t what scared him about taking on the role. It was playing a dad.

He told Collider that playing a dad to adult children felt intimidating and was a challenge for him.

“I don’t know. This is the first time I’ve played dad to grown-ups,” he said. “I felt a little intimidated. I had such a good dad. Maybe I’m drawing from that, but I’m still getting used to that. I see my fellow actors and I’m way older than some of them. I don’t feel that much older, so I’m just getting used to the idea of playing a parent to grown-up kids. It’s a real interesting challenge for me. I’ve played a father to teenagers, kids, and babies, so it’s a new thing for me, and I like that challenge.”

And that makes a lot of sense when you realize that having a personal point of reference sets a bar that would feel impossible to clear. All of his character’s actions would be compared to what his dad would do.

But it seems like he’s doing a fine job, to go by his character’s children. Donnie Wahlberg cherishes his time with Selleck on set and even felt honored when Selleck began calling him son.

“I call him dad now, and he calls me son,” Wahlberg said in an Entertainment Tonight interview. “I mean, that’s how we talk to each other off-camera. First, he used to kind of grumble at me, like… ‘This music guy’s kind of weird.’ And then now he calls me son. And he’ll come in and give me a big hug. You know, you get a hug out of Tom Selleck, that’s a big deal.”

Selleck on Casting Choices for ‘Blue Bloods’ Kids

Tom Selleck plays Frank Reagan, a loving but — at times — stern father, to three children. His two sons, played by Wahlberg and Will Estes followed him into the New York Police Department. Bridget Moynahan plays his daughter, who is an assistant district attorney.

When filming began, Selleck said he had to make a big choice for the character. During a cast chat at the 92nd Street Y, he said he had to treat all of his kids equally. Any favoritism could tilt the show in a bad direction.

“The cool aspect of the story is something that Tom has embraced and embodied,” Jamie Reagan actor Will Estes said during the 2017 panel. “He’s determined not to show his sons any favoritism…”

Moynahan said just having the Reagan name comes with a lot of baggage on the show.

“I mean, the (Reagan) name can be a curse and a blessing at times,” Moynahan explained.