The most significant change in recent Blue Bloods history is the introduction of Joe Hill, a new character played by Will Hochman. Joe arrived in Season 10 and was revealed to be a long-lost member of the Reagan family no one, not even Frank, knew existed before. A real-life incident for a member of the Blue Bloods family inspired Joe's creation, showrunner Kevin Wade revealed in a recent PopCulture.com interview.
In the Season 10 episode "Family Secrets," Sean (Andrew Terraciano) did one of the mail-away DNA tests and learned he had a cousin. At first, Sean jokingly thought Jamie (Will Estes) or Erin (Bridget Moynahan) may have had a secret child. However, Paula Hill (Bonnie Sommerville) visited Frank's (Tom Selleck) office and revealed that she and the late Joe Reagan had a son. Joe Reagan was killed by corrupt police officers before Season 1 began and never knew he was a father.
While Joe's introduction did remind viewers of where Blue Bloods all began, that was not the driving force behind the story. According to Wade, a member of the show's team did a 23andMe, and they learned something about their family that "rocked" their world. "We thought, 'Well, maybe there's a Reagan out there that nobody knows about,'" Wade recalled. "It really started there."
Later, writer and executive producer Siobhan Byrne O'Connor figured out how to work that idea into the show. She wondered what would happen if Sean did a DNA ancestry test for a school project and found the lost Reagan, Wade explained. Then, they decided that the lost Reagan would also be a police officer, but one who grew up without the direct influence of Frank. "He's got to be more like the loose cannon rogue... cop," Wade said. "It really just grew organically from there."
Hochman, who starred in Let Him Go with Kevin Costner and performed on stage, was cast. Wade called Hochman a "wonderful actor" whose performance in "Family Secrets" proved he needed to return. Hochman has appeared in nine episodes, most recently in the Feb. 25 episode "Allegiance."
Hochman is not the only new face to appear on Blue Bloods recently. Musician Jimmy Buffett appeared in a story involving Danny (Donnie Wahlberg). Buffett isn't a fan of the show, but Wade has known him for almost 30 years and offered him a role. The "Margaritaville" singer liked the idea and agreed to do it. The Blue Bloods team also "just went after" Lyle Lovett when they came up with the idea of Danny working with a Texas Ranger. Lovett has "such an iconic look that we brought him on, and it worked great."
Tony Danza also showed up in the "Allegiance" episode. Wade knew he was a good actor who could play the party of a veteran police officer with a troubled son, but they also know the Blue Bloods audience is familiar with Danza. Max Weinberg, the drummer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, starred in two episodes simply because he is a fan of the show and wanted a part. Weinberg plays Mario Vangelis again in the upcoming April 1 episode, "Hidden Motive." "It's been great fun to either go after people who we like, or people who we find out watch the show and reach out and say, 'Hey, if you're watching it would you like to be on it?'" Wade said. Blue Bloods airs Fridays on CBS at 10 p.m. ET. Past episodes are available on Paramount+.