Food brings everyone together—and that’s certainly true for the cast of CBS’s Blue Bloods.
Each week on the popular police drama, the Reagan family—led by Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan and Will Estes—gather around a large dining table to discuss the issues playing out in the episode …. and eat. A lot. (But we’ll get to that later.)
Watch one episode and it’s clear: the Sunday supper is the heart of each show. “They’re the most fun to film because everyone is telling stories, laughing, sharing their points-of-view,” says Selleck. “It’s like a real family.”
The new season premieres on Friday, but here’s an early taste of things you may not know about the Blue Bloods supper scenes:
1. The cast really likes being at the table together.
Selleck: “You can work on an ensemble series and you may not see a fellow cast mate for a month. But here, once a show, we get to have a family dinner, which we all look forward to. We all like each other and have become close, so it’s like catching up. Sometimes we get talking so much that it gets in the way of the work.”
Sami Gayle: “Before we sat down at the table today, Tom gave me his list of 10 movies that every actor should watch. He really wants to educate me about the great films of all time, which is amazing. Will [Estes] asked me for the list too, and we’re both going to watch them all.”
2. It takes a full day to film one scene.
Selleck: “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.”
Wahlberg: “The first dinner scene we shot for the new season was really tough because I got off a plane from tour [with New Kids on the Block] and came straight to set. And that scene took over five hours. Between every camera take, I took a nap on the couch. They would literally wake me up a second before the camera started rolling and I would run and take a seat at the table. I was just delirious. I don’t know how I remembered one line.”
3. The food is real—and fake.
Jim Lillis (prop master): “We give them real food on camera, but we try to keep it mildly seasoned because they have to do so many takes. The Reagans are Irish-Catholic New Yorkers, and their menu reflects that. It’s usually a meat or chicken, always some version of potatoes and a vegetable, salad and rolls. I’m Irish-Catholic, and I was halfway through the first season before I realized I was serving my mother’s old menu.”
Wahlberg: “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.”
4. Everyone has a signature move.
Gayle: “We have to look like we’re eating during every take so we’ve all figured out ways to pretend. Tom always butters his bread, so no one else can use that technique. Bridget [Moynahan] cuts her food a lot. I’ll cut my food, too, and drink water a lot.”
Amy Carlson: “I have my own tricks: Cut food and drink something. Once it become someone’s signature move, you can’t use it and you have to come with your own. Unless you’re Donnie, and then you just eat what’s put in front of you.”
5. There is one eating champion.
Gayle: “It’s the running joke that Donnie doesn’t stop eating. Even during rehearsals. They’ll tell us not to eat the food because we’re just going through the lines. But I’ll look up and see Donnie chewing on something.”
Wahlberg: “Tom just pretends eat, but I’m the only one who really eats. I literally ate 20 pounds of asparagus today. I try to only stick to vegetables, which leads to other problems. Fortunately, we wrapped a little early today so the problems will be personal problems, and won’t be affecting everyone else at the table.”
‘Blue Bloods’ airs on Fridays at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.