BLUE BLOODS S2 Preview with Will Estes
One of the big surprises of the 2010-2011 TV season, for me, was how hard I feel for BLUE BLOODS on CBS. Off the bat, I was drawn in because of Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, but what I found when watching was a character drama disguised as a police procedural. I knew they’d always solve the crime of the week, but the fun thing about watching the show was, like a lot of families these days, it wasn’t always a guarantee that they’d solve the family issue by hours end.
The show is back tonight with the Season 2 premiere, an episode that finds Frank (Selleck) deciding how to play it in public when a fundraiser for the Mayor-elect is found dead in his car, while Jamie (Will Estes) goes undercover at a bar. I had a chance to chat with the youngest Reagan (Estes) about Season 2, more specifically, what’s changing this season, what will Jamie be up to, and why now might be the best time to get involved with BLUE BLOODS.
One of the questions I’d gotten a lot for you – you’ve had a long career for someone in our younger age range. How do you manage to keep your head down, avoid the spotlight, keep working, and keeping a good head on your shoulders?
I get this question sometimes. I don’t know. I think I guess my answers is for a lot of people, Los Angeles is a tough town. I know, growing up, you get to a certain age – guys and girls, they come out here from wherever after high school or college to be an actor, and you know, it’s an industry that I think sometimes has a funny set of values. It can be a tough world for a lot of people. You hear a lot of kids get into a lot of bad stuff when they’re either young or get a little bit older and sort of grew up in the film industry. I think it can be an upside down kind of place. I grew up in Los Angeles, though, so for me, it wasn’t really something I was as much as something I did. I would go to work, and I would go home, and be with my family and friends who didn’t have anything to do with the industry. I think I was lucky that I had a backbone for myself that was local, and it’s probably the same reason I’ve stuck with it. There was no place else for me to go; I was already home.
We are here to talk about BLUE BLOODS obviously, and a show like this can have a great pedigree and when it airs, it’s not what you were hoping for. With BLUE BLOODS that’s not the case – right out of the gate, it was a show that clicked. What can you talk about for what is coming up in Season 2?
I think the show, at its best, is sort of a great combination of a fast paced procedural with crime stopping action, but at its heart and center is a real character driven drama. I know that this year, again, they want to focus on crime stories that affect the family and family stories that affect the job. I think that’s kind of what the show does best. Early on in the season, Tom Selleck’s character has to deal with the new mayor this year, and he has to deal with the political ramifications of that situation. My character early on, falls into situation where he comes in contact with a guy who has connections to organized crime, so I think that a little bit of undercover work might be in store for Jamie this year, so I’m excited about that.
How much research do you put into a role like this – last season as a patrol cop, this season possibly going undercover?
I try to do as much as I can. We’ve all seen cop shows on TV and everything else, and I got a packet of stuff from our technical adviser who was fantastic. We have a great tech, Jim Nuciforo, you know, he’s retired from the force of 24 years, with Detective First Grade. He’s done it all, seen it all, and he still has a great attitude. So I rely heavily on him and the other guys that we work with sometimes. Everything that’s sort of really gives the way that the cops think and the way they speak, and the things that they do, and the things are important and paramount in their minds when they go into certain situations. That all helps me, I love that. I try to observe through osmosis. I’ll hang out with the tech on the set, while we’re there. I’ll try and get him to tell me stories, and that helps me more than any sort of bit of fact. I try to, as an actor, absorb the way that they think and the way that they feel about certain things, and I’ll go, when you know when it comes to procedure, cops are people too, I can play the character all day, but when it comes to something that only a cop will know, I rely heavily on those guys, and try to get it as right as I can.
Like you said, the show is different because it focuses on the procedure but also very heavily on the character. Is this the type of show where you know your characters whole arc for the season, or is it more episode by episode?
It’s a little bit of both. There are ideas for episode arcs for the season. It’s also a procdeural too in that a lot of the shows will stand alone, too. The season isn’t written. A lot of times, we have the preemptions the end up coming up. A lot of times it works out because the scripts aren’t ready. It takes 8 days to shoot a show, so by the end of the season, the audience is seeing shows almost right after we shoot them. At the beginning, we sort of pick up some lead time. These shows are written very much some time just a few weeks before they air. It’s in a state of flux, and those arcs are definitely not always defined.
Does that make it easier or harder to play a role like that?
I think it’s complicated. I think, ideally as an actor, you sort of have these big defined arcs. Each show standing on its own is great, too, because you get to play with the moments, and the best thing you can do is focus what you’re doing that day, and try to do the best you can each day, too. It’s just sort of the nature of the beast. I couldn’t say if it’s better or worse.
Has the show changed a lot from what you thought it would be when you first read the original script until now?
Yeah, it’s changed, I think inevitably so. It was a little bit of a rocky first season for us. We had some people that left the show, and some people that came on the show, so that was sort of rocky, and I think there was some question early on about which direction this show was going to go. I think some people wanted a procedural show, and some people would have much preferred it be a 90% character driven drama. I think what the show is at its best is a combination of the two, and sort of where we ended up now, it’s a show with great procedural elements as well as it being a character driven drama.
The family dynamic on the show seems so natural – was that something that clicked automatically, or something that you work on offset?
That reminds me of a funny story from the pilot. Everybody read the script, and we all loved it. It was a fantastic pilot script. And then one of the first scenes that we shot was a family dinner table scene. And then all of a sudden [laughs], you’ve got this great script in your head, but then you have to sit down with other, live people, human beings, actors, and shoot a scene where you’re all supposed to have known each other for your entire lives. [laughs] I think it was a little unnerving to sort of jump in with so little rehearsal and play family members. We felt a little bit of wobbly legs, but it all seemed to click really well. I think the show is wonderfully cast. We have such a wonderful cast on the show, and it seems to have worked really well.
Why do you think now is a time for people to get caught up on the show or to get involved in the show going into the new season?
I think it’s going to be an exciting season. My character in particular is going to get to do some more undercover work and in the first few episodes, I end up getting involved with a character who has connections to a crime family. I’m excited about that. Nick Turturro is coming back as Sgt Renzulli, which I know people liked a lot the first season. Tom Selleck as the Commisioner of New York City. I think that’s what people tune into see ha. Donnie [Wahlberg]’s great, and Bridget [Moynihan]’s great. Len [Cariou] and everyone else in the cast, too.
What else is coming up from you aside from the new season of BLUE BLOODS?
I was lucky enough to work on a couple of films over the hiatus. One of which is called the UNTITLED INNER AUTO PROJECT, by director and write Tom Glynn. I’m excited about that. We should probably get a title for it. [laughs] It’ll be a little easier to talk about haha! Another one is SHADOW that I did with a great friend of mine, Amanda Righetti, who is working on THE MENTALIST right now, about a true story of a woman who was stalked, so I think that will be a lot of fun when that comes out. I also did a piece on a film called MISSION PARK which is being shot Texas right now. And then tomorrow night [we chatted a few weeks ago], I’m going to do a part on the next DARK NIGHT with Christopher Nolan.
Oh that little movie?
Have you heard of Batman [laughs]? But yeah, so I’m lucky enough to have my hands in some different fires right now, so I’m excited about all that stuff.
You’ve been very involved over the years in different Humanitarian efforts, Heal the Bay, and things like that. What are you involved in lately that you’d love to get the word out about?
It’s sort of always something. For me, I sort of realized a dream a while back of putting solar panels on my house in Los Angeles, so that was really exciting. The recent project for me, by far, most of the electricity, there were two meters, because it’s technically a duplex, though I don’t really use it as a duplex ha, so there was two meters. So I put solar panels, but unfortunately, they were only on one meter, which was most of the electricity usage, but there was still that other meter that no matter how much energy I produced from my panels, wasn’t even going to turn that other meter backwards. I was recently able to combine my meters, which was really nice. So now, all the power is on solar, so I might want to add a few panels. But that was a huge step in the process for me, I’m excited about that. I have an air conditioner that’s going out, so I’m actually [laughs] really excited about the more efficient air conditioners that are out there. That’s a project of mine. The other one is collecting rain water. That’s my next project actually. I want to go to all sort of native plants and put in rain barrels and sort of try to catch as much rain water as I can. The most important part of that is preventing run off. Los Angeles is a city where, when it rains, you’re not supposed to go into the ocean, because essentially, the city “washes off” into the ocean. Run off, in that sense, the way that we sort of pave everything and have a roof and create gutters, channel all the water out to the street, doesn’t allow any water to get into the soil. A lot of the places in the world, that’s actually depleting underground aquifers, and all that run off into the ocean, is obviously bad as well, so it’s essentially washing the city off into the ocean, so that water, catch basins at houses. We have really strict rain water regulations in California. You really can’t pipe any rain water into your house. It’s illegal. I think that’s going to have to change. It would be okay to flush your toilet with rain water, if you know what I mean. There’s all kinds of things that can be done there. I’m pretty good about water usage, but I really interested in catching more rain, and preventing run off. I think it would be pretty easy to get a house and not have any run off.