The key to the success of Blue Bloods has always been the cast. A show doesn’t last eleven seasons if fans don’t enjoy the actors, and Bloods has that in spades.
The police drama is excellent, but it’s the family bond of the Reagans that keeps drawing viewers in. No matter how rough things get, almost every episode ends with the family sitting down for dinner and showing how blood is truly thicker than water.
The cast has been a mix of TV veterans, headlined by Tom Selleck as Frank, with the rest of the actors having long experience with other series. Some had famous TV roles before this show, while others were mostly in the “hey, it’s that guy” TV appearances.
It’s thus notable how some actors had TV appearances even most of the show’s fans may have forgotten. Some were in police dramas to prove they could work for this show. It’s funnier to see them in roles so much different than their Bloods parts.
Here are ten roles fans may not know the Blue Bloods cast had before the series to show how their careers led to their bigger breaks.
Steve Schirripa as a caring dad, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager
With his beefy build and fun humor, Steve Schirripa is a fun addition to Blue Bloods as Anthony Abetemarco. The detective helps Erin with cases and respects her deeply.
Schirripa is well-known for his turn on the iconic Sopranos series. He showed a softer side on the long-running ABC Family dramedy The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which focused on a teen (Shailene Woodley) getting pregnant.
Schirripa was Leo, the father of main character Ben. He was supportive of his son and other characters and often the voice of reason amid some nutty goings-on.
The show has a cult following today and shows a warmer side to Schirripa than he has on Bloods.
Robert Clohessy as an immortal cop’s partner, New Amsterdam
Robert Clohessy just has a talent for playing cops. He did so on Oz, Boardwalk Empire, and now as Sid Gromley, who goes from Danny’s boss to one of Frank’s staff members.
Overlooked is Clohessy’s turn in a different kind of cop show. 2008’s New Amsterdam (not to be confused with the NBC medical drama) was a Fox series with a pre-Game of Thrones Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a Dutch soldier granted immortality in the 1600s.
Today, he’s a New York cop using his centuries of skill to solve murders. Clohessy was a detective who clashed with Amsterdam.
The joke was him bringing up his “experience,” not grasping he’s talking to a 400-year old man.
The show lasted just eight episodes, yet it was intriguing to see Clohessy in a different type of cop show.
Gregory Jbara as an annoying neighbor, Grounded For Life
While not a real cop, Garrett Moore is a popular face on the show. Frank’s chief of staff has to handle the public fallout of his boss’s actions and tries to keep tempers cool in staff fights.
A TV veteran for years, Gregory Jbara has appeared in dozens of shows and movies. So it’s easy to overlook one of his few regular gigs on Fox’s sitcom Grounded For Life.
The raunchy blue-collar sitcom had a recurring character in Bret, the nerdy next-door neighbor romancing the daughter of the main family. Jbara played his belligerent father, who clashed with main character Sean.
It showed light humor which Jbara would later use to make Garrett a good face for Bloods.
Vanessa Ray as a love interest, Suits
Vanessa Ray is familiar to fans of the hit show Pretty Little Liars as conniving Charlotte Drake. Yet some may forget her role in the early seasons of the hit USA Network series Suits.
The show revolved around Mike (Patrick J. Adams), a legal genius who’s hired for a firm despite the fact he never attended law school.
Ray was in the pilot as Jenny, the girlfriend of Mike’s troublesome best friend, Trevor. She’s upset to learn the man is dealing drugs and starts turning to Mike for support.
There were hints it could become more romantic. Before that happened, Jenny realizes Mike is in love with Rachel (Meghan Markle) and breaks it off. That was the last fans saw of her as Ray moved to the role of Eddie for bigger fame.
Marisa Ramirez’s first turn as a cop, Against The Wall
A soap opera veteran, Marisa Ramirez has been a good addition to the show as Danny’s partner, Baez. But this wasn’t her first turn wearing a badge.
Against the Wall was a rare police drama from Lifetime that aired in 2011. The show played a lot like Blue Bloods with Rachael Carpani following her family tradition of becoming a detective.
The kicker was that the only place she could find a job was Internal Affairs. This naturally caused tension with her father and brothers considering her a traitor investigating other cops.
Ramirez played Carpani’s partner, married to a cop herself with three boys. A turn was discovering that she was pregnant but still handling the job.
While the series only lasted one season, it showed the police chops Ramirez used for the role of Baez.
Will Estes in a time-warping mystery, Reunion
There’s a great list to be made of “promising shows Fox ended too early.” Reunion is one of them.
The concept was unique. In 2005, one of six college friends is murdered. Each episode flashes back to a specific year in their lives from 1986 onward to show how they changed over time.
Estes played a guy who was involved with one friend but secretly the father of another’s child. He was shown as a romantic type which made it surprising when the present storyline reveals he’s now a priest.
The idea was the final episode would bring the story to the present and reveal the killer’s identity. Sadly, Fox canceled it halfway through.
But Estes still showed some of the love of fair play he’d use for his role as Jamie.
Bridget Moynahan as an eager businesswoman, Six Degrees
Bridget Moynahan is good as tough attorney Erin, the only daughter in the Reagans. But she showed a lighter side with this short-lived 2006 ABC series.
It plays on the idea there are only six degrees of separation between anyone on Earth. In this case, six New Yorkers had no idea how their lives secretly intersected.
Moynahan plays Whitney, a PR executive who discovers her fiancee is cheating on her. She tries to focus on work while finding her own way. She also helps a new hire meet his girlfriend.
The series was cut short with half the episodes burned off online but did show a fun charm for the future Erin.
Donnie Whalberg as a different type of cop, The Kill Point
Bloods fans know the intensity Donnie Wahlberg brings to the role of Detective Danny Reagan. Donnie Wahlberg was able to hone it in this 2007 Spike TV miniseries.
The eight-episode series has John Leguizamo as the leader of a pack of former Marines who feel slighted by the government. They rob a bank only for it to become a hostage situation.
Wahlberg is the police captain sent to negotiate. Unlike the hot-headed Danny, this guy is trying to soothe tensions rather than let the cops storm the place.
The cat-and-mouse game between the cop and the crook was good. While the show was designed to last just one year, Wahlberg showed he had what it took to be a believable cop.
Len Cariou in a very Henry-like role, Swift Justice
Len Cariou is a Tony-winning stage veteran enjoying a great late-career resurgence as the gruff Reagan grandfather, Henry.
Yet this isn’t the first time Cariou has been involved in a cop show. He starred in 1996’s UPN series Swift Justice.
James McCaffrey played the title role of Mac Swift, a former Navy SEAL fired from the NYPD on fake corruption charges. He now works as a private eye.
In a precursor to his Henry role, Cariou played Mac’s father, Al, a police sergeant who would offer help while also criticizing his maverick moves.
Produced by Dick Wolf, the show had a good style yet couldn’t find an audience and was canceled after 13 episodes. But little wonder someone figured Cariou as the father of a cop could work for Bloods.
Tom Selleck as a comic ad man, The Closer
Everyone knows Tom Selleck as a TV legend thanks to Magnum P.I. But he showed comedic chops on a guest-starring turn on Friends.
That led to Selleck getting a short-lived 1998 sitcom of his own, The Closer (not to be confused with the TNT procedural).
Selleck played Jack McLaren, a veteran ad executive handling a quirky agency. Ed Asner played his creative director with Penelope Ann Miller, his accountant. There was also Joanna Kerns as his wife, who eventually divorced him.
It was a fun role, but the show only lasted ten episodes. Selleck would move on to other series, but it’s fun to see him in a comic role.
Blue Bloods Season 1-10 streaming on Hulu, Season 11 on Paramount+.