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NOC Interview: Vanessa Ray on All Things ‘Blue Bloods’

Vanessa Ray portrays Eddie Janko on the CBS hit series, Blue Bloods. The show premiered back in 2010 and Ray joined back in season 4. Blue Bloods is now finishing up its 11th season with a two-hour season finale on Friday at 10PM ET/PT. You might also recognize the actress from her time as CeCe Drake on Pretty Little Liars.

John Paul Filo/CBS

The drama follows a multi-generational family dedicated to New York City law enforcement. Eddie was originally introduced as Jamie’s (Will Estes), the youngest Reagan, partner. Fans quickly fell in love with the pair’s chemistry, watching as a friendship between the two soon turned into more, their trust unbreakable throughout it all. Despite this, Eddie is anything but just a one-dimensional love interest; now officially part of the Reagan family after she and Jamie finally got married. Complex and strong, she never fails to keep her husband on his toes.

I got to ask Ray about her journey on the show, how Blue Bloods presents their female characters, filming in New York, Eddie and Jamie’s relationship, and her dream projects! Keep reading to see what she shared.

Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

What originally attracted you to the role of Eddie?
Vanessa Ray: I loved this role immediately because when we first met her she was a rookie, but it was obvious she was following a calling to service. She was eager, messy, and flawed. I mean who wouldn’t love Eddie? Although, I am a bit biased.

Blue Bloods is already on its eleventh season; what has your journey on the show meant to you and how would you describe your character’s evolution?
When I started on the show in season 4, I almost exclusively worked with Will. He’s an incredible scene partner and dear friend. As Jamie and Eddie’s relationship evolved and when they finally decided to get together/married, my job had also evolved. I was working with people I’d only ever high-fived in the studio hallway. It felt like a totally new show. New faces every day. I got a new partner in the incredible Lauren Patton. It’s been quite an arc looking back. Eddie’s voice is bolder now at the dinner table and on the job. I like that.

The series puts their women front and center; what do you like most about how the show presents their women characters and the storylines that are given to them?
I love that our show shows real issues of what it’s like to be a woman walking down the street every day. Violence doesn’t care if you’re a mother, a “tough girl,” or, as we’ve seen a lot this season, a cop. Our writers and directors don’t shy away from how that plays out both physically and mentally. This season, Abigail Hawk had a beautiful and vulnerable episode showcasing that.

Patrick Harbron/CBS

Why do you think it’s so important to show strong women characters on screen in today’s world and what message do you hope Eddie gives to viewers?
I hope that Eddie showcases that gut instinct that women have. The deep knowing that forces us into action. I just love that about her. She moves through fear rather than running away from it. #BeAnEddie

The family dinners really drive the whole “family” theme home, connecting all of the characters despite the different storylines; what do you hope the theme teaches viewers watching?

I hope that we are showing our viewers that if the love is strong in a relationship, you can disagree and still be at peace with one another. The Reagan’s come together NO MATTER WHAT their differences are. I hope our viewers find ways to do the same in their own way.

What is one thing you want to delve deeper into when it comes to Eddie’s storyline or character?
I love when we address Eddie’s deep-rooted fears around starting a family. The pros and cons of being a Reagan and her own childhood disenchantments. I find it extremely relatable and something we don’t often see portrayed so honestly from a woman on TV.

Richard Boeth/CBS

What is your favorite part about filming in New York? Any favorite spots in the city to visit in your free time?
Almost every single day I pinch myself that I get to work in New York. It’s still very magical to me. This season, with so many restrictions due to COVID, we worked mostly in Greenpoint. God bless Grumpy’s coffee, which is super close to our studio, for fueling us all season. I can’t wait to get to film more in the city. I love when we film in neighborhoods or streets I’ve lived on. We shot a scene right on 9th between 51st and 52nd next to Arriba Arriba, a restaurant I frequented often in my early days of living in the city. Also, the view of the city from Dumbo is unbeatable. And there’s a Shake Shack AND Grimaldi’s pizza right there that we may or may not treat ourselves to.

Is there a member of the cast that you wish you had more scenes with? And if so, what sort of storyline or scene would you like to do with them?
Well, I have a pretty great thing going with Steve Schirripa that gives me a lot of street cred. I’ve never done a scene with the dream team: Gormley, Baker, and Garrett. I can’t imagine what would cause us to cross paths, but that bunch is A LOT of fun. I sometimes think they have more fun than me and Will, which seems impossible because we laugh constantly.

What do you love most about Eddie and Jamie’s relationship? Is there a moment that really made you a supporter of their relationship or were you always on board?
I love that they see the world differently and challenge each other to be better, do better, and go farther. It’s not always easy with them, but they wouldn’t be who they are without the other. I also love that they are these two no-nonsense cops that both have this extremely gentle side that they almost exclusively show each other. On board from the start!

John Paul Filo/CBS

Anything you can tease about what’s coming up for the fan-favorite couple?
I wish they’d tell me!!!

Is there a certain message or lesson that your time on the show has taught you?
Oh man, sooo many lessons. Mostly my relationship with Will has taught me so much about friendship, trust, and loyalty. I think it comes across on camera. He’s always supporting me and has helped me find my voice on this big bold TV show.

Any fun or special on-set moments or stories you can share?
I love in-between takes at the dinner table. We share favorite movie recommendations. Sometimes there are re-enactments of favorite scenes (a lot of A Few Good Men for me and The Greatest Showman from Donnie). I feel a genuine sense of pride when anyone (especially Tom) comes back the next week having watched one of my recommendations.

John Paul Filo/CBS

Any memorable fan moments from your time filming?
I’ve been so fortunate to come across Jamie and Eddie’s in the wild so to speak. Once I was stopped at Westville by two cops who said, “Look, we’re you!”

The show tackles many real-world issues and showcases them; what do you personally like about this?
I like that it’s intimidating. I mean it’s a challenge to try and get it right. Present the information, have a dialogue, and let the chips fall where they may. Bridget and Roslyn Ruff have navigated some big topics. Their work this season was a highlight to watch.

What would be a dream role or project for you and are there any past roles that you’d like to revisit in the future?
I’d want to play a superhero! Marvel, call me? I’d also be open to doing a sitcom with a live audience. I got my roots starting in theater and a multi-cam is the closest thing to live theater on TV I can think of. I miss taking a bow at the end of an epic performance! I’d always love to revisit CeCe Drake on Pretty Little Liars. It’s nice to play a complicated villain.

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