‘Blue Bloods’: All the Ways Tom Selleck Is Just Like Frank Reagan in Real Life

With certain actors, some fans assume they’re playing some version of themselves. And that’s true for some performers to a certain extent. Tom Selleck does resemble his Blue Bloods character, Frank Reagan, in a lot of ways.

Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck playing Frank Reagan on Blue Bloods | Patrick Harbron/CBS via Getty Images

Still, many actors will tell you they’re always acting, even if they’re sticking close to their own persona. This is just as true now for performers like Arnold Schwarzenegger as it was during Hollywood’s golden age for actors like John Wayne. Yes, they may borrow from themselves, but in the end, there’s always some element of unreality to it. That tends to happen when someone gives you a script to memorize and points a camera at you.

Here’s how Tom Selleck and Frank Reagan come together and diverge.

How Selleck and Frank Regan mirror each other

Like Selleck, Reagan prides himself on his strong work ethic. Reagan served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and became a decorated soldier. It was a natural progression from the military to police work. He climbed the ladder fast, making detective in only three years’ time. He eventually became the police commissioner.

Selleck, too, served in the army, though his service wasn’t strictly voluntary. He had already begun exploring acting at USC when he was drafted during the Vietnam War. He said of his service, “I am a veteran, I’m proud of it,” he said on Military.com. “I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry, National Guard, Vietnam era. We’re all brothers and sisters in that sense.” It certainly helped Selleck prepare for a number of roles, including but not limited to Thomas Magnum, Jesse Stone, and General/President Dwight David Eisenhower.

Naturally, Tom Selleck continues to support the troops, saying, “We learned a lesson as a country over time, that we need to welcome our troops home regardless of whether you have political problems with whatever mission they’re on, they just served and we need to thank them for it.”

One of Selleck’s Blue Bloods co-stars, Bridget Moynahan, said Selleck began to take on Reagan’s characteristics almost immediately. She told the AARP, “He fell into that dad role immediately … He’s the one at the table telling silly jokes. There’s a playful side to him as well.”

How would Frank Reagan look in a Hawaiian shirt?

How Selleck and Frank Regan diverge from each other

While Selleck and Reagan have many similarities, in the end, Selleck is an actor and Frank Regan is a character. For example, we’re willing to bet that Frank Reagan might balk at wearing one of Thomas Magnum’s Hawaiian shirts. It’s also quite possible that if you asked Frank to crack a bullwhip, he would raise an eyebrow in amusement, while Selleck came very close to playing Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And we just can’t picture Frank Reagan playing a television actor who turns out to be gay, as Selleck did in the 1997 comedy In & Out directed by Frank Oz and starring Kevin Kline. Reagan might date Courteney Cox, though.

Like Tom Selleck, John Wayne specialized in playing manly types. Fans often assumed that Wayne was always just playing himself, or at least playing the same part over and over. But that took a lot of practice.

Wayne said, “When I started, I knew I was no actor and I went to work on this Wayne thing. It was as deliberate a projection as you’ll ever see. I figured I needed a gimmick, so I dreamed up the drawl, the squint and a way of moving meant to suggest that I wasn’t looking for trouble but would just as soon throw a bottle at your head as not. I practiced in front of a mirror.”

Tom Selleck recognizes that some people will always see him as Magnum or Reagan, and that’s OK by him. In an interview with the New York Daily News in 1999, Selleck said: “I’ve tried very hard to conduct myself in an ethical way because that’s important to my stability now.”

We think Frank would say the same.