As long as the members of television’s Reagan family gather to eat each week, Len Cariou always will know where his next meal is coming from.
As patriarch and former New York police commissioner Henry Reagan, the stage and screen veteran is guaranteed his moment in every episode of the Friday CBS police drama “Blue Bloods.” That’s true even if Henry’s relatives feed him in the hospital — as happened one Thanksgiving — and Cariou finds such scenes special for several reasons.
“We’re usually done by lunch,” he tells Zap2it. “Because of the kids, we film [those scenes] early. It’s the biggest scene in any episode, so it usually takes the most time because you have to cover everybody film-wise. Everybody looks forward to it, though, because we have that time together every week.”
Cariou believes those scenes appeal to viewers because “they all did this at one time in their lives, sitting around the dinner table with the family. I was in Europe in the spring, and two or three people stopped me on the street and said, ‘We love your show. Our whole family watches it because of that scene.’ “
The dinner sequence has been a staple of “Blue Bloods” right from the pilot episode. “In fact, that was the very first scene we ever shot,” Cariou confirms. “Tom [Selleck] and I looked at one another and said, ‘Gee, maybe we should wait a day or so, so that at least we all know who we are.’
“We made up a scenario about the family pretty quickly, though. We said to [executive producer] Leonard Goldberg and the writers, ‘If we know there’s going to be a dinner scene, it’ll be a special scene every week.’ And indeed, that’s exactly what it’s turned out to be.”
Now well into the fourth season of “Blue Bloods,” Cariou — whose earlier work includes the movie “The Four Seasons” and a Tony-winning stage performance in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” — has learned a big trick to filming the dinner sequences.
“If you’re really clever, you don’t have to eat at all,” he muses, “although when the camera is on you, you can be swallowing something. I think the kids have gotten a few tummy aches.”