Every show has taken on the coronavirus pandemic in different ways, from tackling it head-on to showing characters wearing face masks. On Blue Bloods, the most significant impact on the show was felt behind the scenes, star Will Estes revealed in a new interview with PopCulture.com. The actor, who plays Jamie Reagan on the long-running police drama, said there will be "small changes," but the pandemic will not be a major story in the world of the show.
Estes said he did not know until the last moment if the Blue Bloods producers would write the pandemic into the story or not. Ultimately, they chose not to. At first, Estes worried about this, but he came to realize that most viewers tune in to Blue Bloods every Friday night to tune out the real world. After all, if the Blue Bloods universe followed pandemic guidelines on the show itself, the weekly dinner scene would be missing and fans would be disappointed.
"I think it might be really nice for audiences to see the show without the pandemic," Estes said. "So, that's the choice we made." However, the show will not be set in an alternate reality where the pandemic never happened. Instead, the show will start in the future, as if the pandemic has been over for six months at least.
"We're not wearing masks on the show and so on and so forth," he said. "We obviously are wearing masks behind the scenes, but we're not doing that on the show... I think the benefit to that is people will get to tune in and see Blue Bloods and step away from some of the difficult things that are going on in our everyday lives right now. I think that that might be the best way that we can serve our audience."
The Reagan family dinner scenes are so essential to Blue Bloods that the producers found a way to shoot them without taking any unnecessary risks. Estes said it felt a little bit like "smoking indoors" when filming the dinners, but assured viewers they are taking every precaution. He confirmed the camera crew is not even in the room, as they are operating robots to film the scenes. The camera operators can get every shot they need without risking getting the virus or infecting the actors.
"We all get tested three times a week," Estes explained of the off-screen measures being taken. "We wear masks to and from the set... The crew is also wearing shields on top of their masks and we're really being pretty safe. Knock on wood... we haven't had any problems. Basically, when they say action, it's masks off and then we do a scene."
While the pandemic will not be covered often on the show, Estes said there will be some references to the ongoing protests on police brutality. In the Season 11 premiere, airing Friday at 10 p.m. ET on CBS, Frank (Tom Selleck) will meet with City Council Speaker Regina Thomas (Whoopi Goldberg) to discuss the protests. "I think that we would be remiss not to address some of the things that are going on in United States and in the world right now," Estes said.