Blue Bloods star Donnie Wahlberg has worked with Tom Selleck for a decade now, but it can still be intimidating to work with such a living legend. It is even more so when directing him. Selleck, an unavoidable presence on television and in movies since the 1970s, knows every trick in the book and is always thinking a few steps ahead, Wahlberg said in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com.
Wahlberg directed the 2014 episode "Manhattan Queens." Helming the episode was an "awesome experience," since Wahlberg is a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race and the episode guest-starred winner Jinkx Monsoon. However, directing an episode of Blue Bloods also means working with Selleck in a different capacity than one Wahlberg was used to in front of the camera.
The "only intimidating part" of the entire experience was directing Selleck, "but I think I'm smart enough to know that you don't really direct Tom."
"I just came at it from an actor's point of view and gave Tom the comfort and space to do what he felt comfortable doing and then just sort of adding some little finishing touches from there," Wahlberg said. "Tom's such a perfectionist."
"He's so dedicated to his work that you're not going to come in and tell him these magnificent ideas that you have of how to make his scenes special," he said of Selleck. "He's already come up with 500 ideas himself a week before you even sit down with him. That's how devoted he is to his work."
Wahlberg said his top job when directing scenes with Selleck was to serve "him as an actor because his whole mission is to serve the story and the script. So I just had to create a safe space for that and that's what I did."
Unfortunately for Wahlberg, he has not had a chance to direct again, since he has been touring with New Kids on the Block more often. If the Blue Bloods producers want him to direct an episode filmed in January, he has to turn them down since he is already spending his off-set time preparing for NKOB.
"A lot of times I have to pass off the directing job to somebody else, but next season I plan on directing early in the season," Wahlberg said. "And I loved it, I had such a good time."
Wahlberg's episode behind the camera was also important for Abigail Hawk's character, Abigail Baker. Although the two worked together for that episode, they are rarely ever seen together on camera. Hopefully, that changes soon.
"Her character's first big storyline was in the episode that I directed. So I actually got to really work with her not onscreen but off," Wahlberg said. "She's great and I would love to work with her. She also brings the best chocolate chip cookies around at all the holidays. She makes these amazing cookies."
Wahlberg also spoke out about not getting to work with other Blue Bloods castmembers, particularly Will Estes. Even though they play brothers, the two rarely share storylines and are only seen together regularly at the Reagan family dinner table.
"You look around and three years have passed and you've only done one scene with somebody and it's kind of like, how did that happen? But hopefully we'll keep going," Wahlberg said. "We plan on doing more seasons and hopefully we'll finally get that episode together, Abigail and I."
Blue Bloods airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn/CBS