The Reagan family of Blue Bloods is steeped in tradition — so much so, they are leery of shying away from their tradition of eating meat for their famous Sunday dinners. Another tradition is that the family dinners tend not to welcome guests. Traditions are most interesting, however, when they’re broken.
One break came with a new addition to the Reagan family, Vanessa Ray’s Eddie, a fellow police officer who married her partner on the force, Jamie. Another break came with the one and only guest star who has so far managed a seat at the Reagan table.
The dinner scenes look cozy, but they aren’t cozy to shoot
One reason there haven’t been many guests is that eating scenes are tricky to shoot. On top of the usual drudgery of repeated takes comes the intestinal discomfort of having to eat that much food. The actors are veterans who know how to nail scenes in only a few takes, but it still gets complicated with the different camera angles.
Tom Selleck, a veteran with some 50 years of experience, was quoted by CinemaBlend as saying :”It’s nice to spend time with the entire cast once an episode, but filming an eating scene is miserable. Well, the eating part is. You have to eat the same foods over and over again to get all the shots. We’ll probably spend eight hours shooting this scene.”
Donnie Wahlberg says he’s the only one actually trying to eat, noting “I literally ate 20 pounds of asparagus today. I try to only stick to vegetables, which leads to other problems. … Someone asked me if we get drunk because we have a lot of wine during the dinner scene, but, sadly, it’s just grape juice. Sorry, guys. And ‘Scotch’ is iced tea. I think they give us decaffeinated or we’d be bouncing off the walls.”
Enter a new seat at the ‘Blue Bloods’ table
Blue Bloods is in its 10th season, and the cast has stayed consistent through the run, but Vanessa Ray did not enter the picture until Season 4 when she had a recurring role, and then she became a full-fledged cast member the next year.
It was only in Season 9, however, that she became a regular at the dinner table, with Eddie having married into the family. The dynamic was different, even visually, with Eddie being the blonde in the room.
CarterMatt quoted Ray as saying, ” I was obviously intimidated and nervous the first couple of times going to family dinner, but I immediately felt welcomed. There really is such a family aspect to it. I’m really fortunate to get to sit with Bridget [Moynahan], who is like the big sister I’ve always wanted.”
In fact, when Eddie tried and mostly failed to turn the Reagans onto plant-based burgers, sitting that close together made it easy for Eddie to settle up when she lost a bet to Erin Reagan that the family would be receptive. Erin said, “Reagan men have a lot of strengths, but embracing change is not one of them.”
A non-Reagan finally made his way to the ‘Blue Bloods’ table
One of the highlights of this season has been the guest stars, who have included such recognizable names as Lyle Lovett, Ed Asner, and most notably, Treat Williams. That veteran actor had previously guested on the show, playing Lenny. Frank’s former partner on the force. This time, though, he got to eat. And eat. And eat.
“I was very honored that I was invited to the family dinner,” he said to TV Insider. “No outsider had ever had dinner with the family.”
Like Eddie before him, Lenny got to bring a different dynamic to the table, not only by being an outsider, but by bringing out a side of Frank the others hadn’t seen. Williams said, “I don’t think they’re used to somebody being Frank’s equal, being comfortable with Frank to call him nicknames and to give him a hug and to kiss him on a cheek.”