Donnie Wahlberg on Danny’s ‘Blue Bloods’ ‘Triangle’ With Baez & Maggie

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Patrick Harbron/CBS

Blue Bloods is in its 10th season, and this is also the 10th year for Target’s Heroes & Helpers program, so what better way to recognize that achievement than a partnership with the CBS drama’s Donnie Wahlberg?

“On Blue Bloods, I work pretty much every day with first responders and real-life heroes and understand the need to build bridges and to strengthen communities. There’s no better way to do that than this,” he tells TV Insider. “This Heroes & Helpers event is bringing incredible joy to underserved children at holiday time and building bridges to the future. These kids are going to take these memories [of] their first encounter with a fireman or an EMT or a police officer being they went shopping at Target and got an amazing gift that maybe their parents couldn’t afford and it will forever hold a special place in their hearts.”

“It’s perfect for me because I was one of those underserved children many years ago, and I could only have dreamed of something like this happening,” he continued. “For me, as a kid who could barely get any gifts at Christmas from my parents, to be a part of giving back to that now is really special.”

Here, Wahlberg discusses Season 10 and looks back at those memorable Sunday dinners.

So far this season, we’ve seen Erin and Frank dealing with the new mayor. Are we going to see any reason for Danny to get involved in any way with him?

Donnie Wahlberg: Danny Reagan makes a point to stay out of politics, oftentimes even in the Reagan family politics. His passion and his love is to solve crimes and that’s what he does.

His sister’s been offered a new job this season, and Danny was all for it when the family found out. Has that in any way gotten him thinking about the future for his career?

The Reagans are all growing in their own way. Frank may run for mayor someday. Erin could possibly be a DA. Jamie’s climbing the ladder.

(John Paul Filo/CBS)

Danny marches to the beat of his own drum. His goal is to be the best cop he can be and help solve crimes other people can’t. That’s where he wants to be. I’m not sure he’s thinking about being upwardly mobile right now as much as he’s thinking about raising his kids as a single parent and bringing justice to families.

Danny is doing a good job, and he and Baez have been successful as partners for years. Why do they work so well together? What do you enjoy most about that partnership?

The relationship on-screen and off is very similar. Why Danny and Baez work so well together are the same reasons why Donnie and Marisa work so well together. A lot of respect for each other. We communicate, we listen, and we’re patient with each other. Marisa’s very respectful of me and when she came onto the show after a few years, she was very respectful of my position in the show, but I also respect what she brings to the show and I encourage her to use her voice and speak up and really own her place on the show as well. That camaraderie we have off-screen really translates on-screen. We’re very close friends and we look after each other and have each other’s backs.

There’s a different dynamic with the addition of Maggie, who returned in the premiere, especially when Baez is involved.

The character of Maggie has been a great addition and obviously Callie Thorne’s an amazing actress and brings so much spirit, for lack of a better word, and so much to the table. I don’t know where all that is going to go, but it is fun to work with both of them and to see the dynamics that are evolving with the characters. I love the little triangle that’s building with those three characters.

You mentioned Danny raising his kids as a single father, without Linda. How is his family life this season? Any new challenges? He’s already sent one kid off to college.

What’s interesting is the character played by Andrew [Terraciano], Sean, is really becoming much more vocal, which is a lot of fun in dinner scenes. He’s becoming the voice of the youth at the dinner table, which is really great. It does cause some problems for Danny because he’s often coming down on the opposite side of where his father stands on things, so it’s created some interesting fun.

(Patrick Harbron/CBS)

In this week’s episode, Jamie and Eddie argue about gender politics in the Reagan family, so how does that affect the entire family?

The beauty of this show is we can tackle topical issues but we can do it with multiple points of view. Certainly having Vanessa Ray [who plays Eddie] at the dinner table has added a lot, but everyone has an opinion that’s their own and whether it’s a gender issue, a law enforcement issue, or someone in the family taking a job opportunity, everyone’s going to have a different way of looking at things.

One of the beauties of Blue Bloods is no matter where you stand on any of these topics, someone at that table’s probably going to connect with you and where you stand on the topic. You’re not going to feel alienated watching it because someone at that table’s most likely going to have a point of view that you can, if not relate to, respect.

Is there a Sunday dinner that stands out to you?

The first one will always stand out to me the most. It was so intimidating. My character basically had to run roughshod over the table and to sit down with that cast and with Tom Selleck at the head of the table. My dad used to wear a mustache a lot, and he’s very intimidating and he sat at the head of the table like that. It was sort of traumatizing for me to sit there and have to come in on my first day of shooting the series and just basically take over the dinner table.

But I knew if I didn’t do it successfully, the show wouldn’t have a chance to thrive. We had to be able to speak our own voices and stand up for our characters’ points of views on the show or it wouldn’t work. When I did and improved a few lines and became loud and boisterous at the table, I didn’t know how Tom Selleck would react, but he gave me the biggest smile and pat on the back after and said that’s what’s going to make this show magic.

(John Paul Filo/CBS)

Other than that one, the first dinner scene without Linda was really emotional, just genuine emotion. Nobody was acting that day. My tears were real, because even though in real life, Amy Carlson was still around, I was going to be moving forward on the show without her. I wouldn’t have a partner anymore to help me with these boys — on-screen and off, to be frank. It’s a big loss, and I’ll always remember the emotion of that day.

Blue Bloods, Fridays, 10/9c, CBS