Vanessa Ray plays Eddie Janko on Blue Bloods, which first premiered back in 2010 and is currently on its twelfth season. Tonight’s new episode marks the 250th episode of the CBS Original series. She is also known for her work in Pretty Little Liars.
Blue Bloods is a drama about a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement. Frank Reagan is the New York Police Commissioner, and heads both the police force and the Reagan brood. He runs his department as diplomatically as he runs his family, even when dealing with the politics that plagued his unapologetically bold father, Henry, during his stint as Chief. A source of pride and concern for Frank is his eldest son, Danny, a seasoned detective, family man and Iraq War vet who on occasion uses dubious tactics to solve cases with his partner, Detective Maria Baez. Erin, the middle daughter, is a New York Assistant D.A. who serves as the legal compass for her siblings and father. Jamie is the youngest Reagan, a Harvard Law graduate and the family’s “golden boy.” Unable to deny the family tradition, Jamie decided to give up a lucrative future in law and follow in the family footsteps as a cop. He’s found a friend and ally in his wife, Eddie, who keeps him on his toes, and has very different reasons than the Reagans for joining the police force.
I had an amazing discussion with the actress over zoom about her personal favorite storylines, what show she would want Blue Bloods to do a crossover with, which stage in Eddie and Jamie’s relationship was her favorite, memories with the cast, what she would want to take from the set, being part of such impactful shows, and much more! Keep reading for our full conversation.
I actually started watching the show around the same time you joined as Eddie. So I want to take you back for a second and ask what piece of advice do you think season 12 Eddie would give to season 4 Eddie?
Vanessa Ray: Oh, that’s a great question! Season 12 Eddie would tell Season 4 Eddie to listen to her gut more and not to her rage, you know what I mean? Like, just trust down here. She was always so flying off the handle. And it gets better, and she gets to marry Jamie Reagan. So that’s — her life’s gonna get great. So, yeah, your life gets great.
You have gotten to do some great storylines when it comes to this character. Do you have a personal favorite, whether it was one that you related to, taught you something, or challenged you?
There was an episode, I think it was maybe last season or the season before, where I feel like Eddie kind of found a bit of her calling, which was — I don’t know if you remember this episode, but they found a baby like in a bag. That episode, I was reading it and I was weeping. But I feel like she really found her kind of calling in that she, I mean, this sounds silly to say but it’s like she helps the defenseless, the people that violence is being acted upon them and they can’t fight back. I feel like that episode made a big shift and I feel like we’ve seen her over the last couple of seasons kind of build upon that. Recently, there was an episode with a character who had been raped and there was just a fire in her gut that was like, “violence has been done to this person and I’m going to fight back as hard as I can to provide justice.” I think she felt like she had something to prove early on. Now, it’s more just truly, trusting her gut and finding ways to stand up for people. But I loved that episode.
That storyline that Eddie just recently had with Erin really stuck out to me. Seeing you two go head to head and then eventually, unite to get justice for the victim was amazing. Can you talk about filming it and your reaction to the story?
Well, I loved that storyline also, because it harkens back to the first season when Eddie goes on a date and has sexual violence against her and all those things. So I think she carries that a lot with her and her journey throughout the seasons. Siobhan wrote the most recent episode when Erin and Eddie were going head to head, and what I love is that she wrote two very strong, very intelligent women unafraid to go at it. I think that there’s an element to female friendships where that’s not a catfight. That is two intelligent women coming from very clear perspectives, and that have enough love and respect for one another that they can kind of go there. A lot of people are like, “Ooh, they’re going at each other, a catfight!” No, it’s not that, it’s passion. When you’re that passionate, you’re showing someone such a huge vulnerability, and that Eddie is able to be that vulnerable in front of Erin in a way she’s not with — I mean, she’s that way somewhat with Jamie, but it’s a different dynamic for sure. So I loved that episode too. I just like that it was written as two women being passionate, being honest, being vulnerable, and finding common ground.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see you two intelligent, badass, and strong females on my TV. It makes me so happy. We need more of it.
We need them, come on! I’m glad that people are responding to it and liking it, cause it’s just real life. I mean, when you’re with your sisters or with your closest girlfriends, if you can’t show that heat, you’re hiding.
Listen, we all have it.
We got it. We got that rage, girl!
Blue Bloods also includes real issues that we deal with in the world, which I always appreciate. But I can imagine some of those scenes are challenging to do whether that’s pushing yourself physically or emotionally. Is there anything that sticks out when you think about all the stuff you’ve done?
Let’s see… well, the physical stuff was — this sounds really dumb, but early on the physical stuff was really tricky, because we couldn’t figure out the right shoes. So like the first season, I had these really weak, I used to call them my jazz shoes, because I’m like, “these don’t even have a soul on them. I’m running and I look like I’m tip-tapping,” you know? Then a couple of seasons later, they got me Dr. Martens and those are so heavy. So I’d be doing these things and I’m like, “I’m trying to go faster.” And Will would always say, “you’re faster than I am. You’re so much faster than I am.” But then I got those shoes and they slowed me down. So I don’t know if that answers the question, but physically, that was sort of an ailment that got in the way in a big way. It was actually good, because that’s the real situation with cops, in general, is that they have — when you see these people on the street, you see these police officers on the street, they have what looks like 50 pounds of gear on them at all times just fighting crime with all of these things on. So it was actually good for me to kind of get used to that belt, get used to how uncomfortable that is, and kind of figure out a way to fit that into what was happening in the narrative of multiple stories. So yeah, and I see these cops on TV, jumping over fences, and I’m like, “how are you doing that?”
It’s like watching a superhero, like with a power-up.
Superheroes, yes it is, on a day-to-day basis. I have a lot of empathy for them.
If you could do a crossover between any show you are personally a fan of (past or present) and Blue Bloods, which would you pick and why?
Oh my god, what a question. Past or present?! Okay, I’m gonna just dive, I’m just gonna take a guess. I think it would be really fun for Blue Bloods to do a crossover with The White Lotus. Like, the cast of Blue Bloods is on vacation, there’s shenanigans, and we’re fighting crimes, but also we’re at odds with people. I think that would be — I think everybody on our show is very funny and has very good comedy chops, but we’re on this serious drama. So I think it would be cool to do a crossover with a show that has a dramedy element aspect to it and kind of see everybody on the show get to spread their wings a little bit.
So, Vanessa, I’m gonna expect you to pitch that to anyone you can to make it happen.
Yes, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to come up with that idea cause it will be fun.
Jamie and Eddie have gotten to grow so much together and it’s been really fun seeing their dynamic. Do you have a favorite stage in their journey?
Oh, that’s a good question. I actually really liked the times when they were still kind of doing the tap dance of whether or not they could trust one another. I think there was a season where in every single episode, one or the other, one of us would say, “I need a partner I can trust.” And it was layered because, on the one hand, you’re like, there’s sort of this emotional relationship aspect that was sort of always there in a way. Then there was also just the true life and death aspect of it. So that argument was so heightened every single time they would get into it. It was honest, genuine, and made sense. That was really interesting to play because like I said, for one season, we pretty much said it every single episode. So there was finding different nuances as to why we were getting to that argument that time. I think in general, that’s a really interesting time in any relationship where you’re kind of leaning in, then you’re leaning out a little bit, and you’re trying to find your footing. That was my favorite time, I think. I think so.
Now it’s really fun too because it’s trickier, those arguments are trickier because we’ve made the commitment to one another, we believe and trust one another. So when our insecurities or something comes our way that’s challenging, you’re sort of like acquired to be a better version of yourself. And so the weighing of the two has been interesting to play.
Because it’s true to life.
It’s true to life. I mean, that’s true to my relationship even with Will, I mean, there’s nothing I wouldn’t trust that guy with. But we still are us. I’m still am going to come in days and be grumpy or something and he’s gonna be like, “what do we need to do? What’s going on? Did you have too much chocolate? What’s happening?”
I love you and Will’s friendship. So I wanted to ask, when you look back at forming that off-screen bond, do you have a moment that stands out as a really special moment that you just treasure? I know there’s probably so many.
There are so many, that’s tough. That’s a tough one. My mom came to set early on, they gave her the headphones and stuff, and she said, “Do you realize that you two never stop talking?” I was like, “what?” She goes, “no one else, no other actors. Everyone else takes a minute, they sit,” we talked the whole time. I was like, I never really realized that we talked the whole time. There was never a lull in a conversation, none of that, even when we would have disagreements about things or whatever, we would just we would talk it out and there was never really a break. We don’t stop talking. I get sort of emotional when I think back to the beginning of our friendship and I think about our friendship now, it’s one of my longest relationships. It’s someone who knows me in a space that like even my best friends haven’t worked with me on long, 12-hour days and stuff. So we know each other in a very specific kind of way and he’s been my scene partner for eight, nine years now. It’s crazy.
So, my family actually does have a Sunday dinner every single week at my grandparents’ house and I’ve never really seen that on TV before. Those moments are always my favorite because they feel so real. I can only imagine how much fun you all have filming them, but who makes you laugh the most at that table?
Good for you. That’s sweet. Okay, usually it’s Donnie who makes me laugh the most. But Will is, to me, the funniest person I’ve ever met, I laugh the most with him. That’s like a separate thing. Then at the family dinner, I will just tell you this, so Bridget Moynahan is directing this episode and she is flawless, freaking amazing. She’s such a great director. It’s crazy. I’m like, “Oh, this is the person that should direct every single episode I ever do have any television. She’s just great.” But one time she came in wearing a leopard print sweater and Tom really got a kick out of it. He was just like, “Oh, that sweater. Okay, that sweater.” So unbenounced to all of us, she bought him that sweater in his size. So he came to set, for when she’s directing family dinner, and he had two things. He had a leopard print sweater on and he had a mask with his face on it. So it was a Tom Selleck mask with a Tom Selleck mustache on top of Tom Selleck’s face. It was like a drop the mic moment. It was the greatest thing. It was the greatest thing, the greatest sight gag I’d ever seen in my life. It was so good.
Please tell me someone got pictures or videos of this.
I got a quick picture and then I feel like there’s probably tons of video of it because he walked in and everyone was like, “wait, what?!” It was crazy. It was so good. It was so good, so good. A Selleck on a Selleck — it’s too much. We didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Thank you so much for sharing that.
You can imagine it, you can see it, it was so good. It really was just his face on the mask. It was too much.
Props to you for getting out your phone. I feel like I would just be in such awe and not know what to do.
Well, at first I didn’t know really what was happening. I didn’t understand. I was like, “Wait, he knows?” It was like, I didn’t know if he was– I had to put it all together and was like, “Wait, that’s the sweater and that’s your face! I’m taking a picture!”
That has to be the highlight of your TV journey.
Yes, ma’am. Yes, I’m like, “I got the shot. I got a shot of Tom Selleck. That’s it.” That man will never stop surprising. He’s just great. He’s a legend.
When the show does eventually end, hopefully not anytime soon, what would you like to take from set?
Oh, okay, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to take this because it’s probably too big of a thing, but there is this chair in Jamie and Eddie’s house that we don’t feature. I don’t know why it’s there, neither of us knows whose fictitious home it came from. Was it Jamie’s? Was it Eddie’s? Did they go buy it together? But it’s one of those chairs with a base and it’s almost like a bird cage. Those egg chairs, we have like an egg chair in our apartment that we never — like it’s only for us to sit in between setups and stuff. But it’s such a weird chair and I love it so much. I’m sure I probably wouldn’t be able to take that because it’s too big of a thing. So I mean, that’s what I would want to take is that egg chair because it’s so weird and rad. It’s always fun to sit in. It’s always fun and you spin! It’s like the cushions are like orange corduroy, you have to look for it next time you watch the show. You’ll see it in the background.
That’s gonna be my goal.
Yes, find the chair!
I have the same exact chair up in my room!
Well, cause it’s rad. It’s a great chair, tell me you’re having a bad day if you’re sitting in that chair. You can’t, you’ll be having a great time. You’re only having a great time.
Like I said, I’ve gotten to follow your career, and I’ve loved your work, especially on Blue Bloods and Pretty Little Liars. Blue Bloods has been on for 12 seasons, and I don’t have to tell you how big PLL was and still is. So what is it like to be part of shows that have such a huge impact when it comes to the industry and audiences? PLL was the first female led show I ever watched and one of the only ones I’ve seen honestly. And Blue Bloods, it brings my own family together — multiple generations can enjoy it together. So what is it like to have a role in something that is so impactful?
That’s so cool. I don’t know what it’s like, but Pretty Little Liars was so crazy because it was the first female-driven show like that and we were also the first show to live-tweet episodes. Like, no one ever did that. That was something that seemed crazy, where the actors were engaging with fans. In fact, when I joined the set, the show, I didn’t really understand any social media. I mean, I still don’t, I’m not great at social media, but you do what you got to do. I don’t even know my Twitter. I have a Twitter account, I don’t remember the sign in and now, I’ll never be able to sign into it ever again. That’s it, that’s it for me and Twitter. That’s a wrap. But it’s like such a cool– it was such a different way of engaging with your audience and I was watching these four females be masterful at it. They were masters at it and it was just wonderful to get to work with all of them. They were all just like such special — I mean, everybody on that show are just really special humans.
Blue Bloods in this same way, we have this anchor of this family dinner that I think is the heart, that’s the bread and butter of the show. That’s what makes people keep coming back because they’re like, “I know that no matter what chaos is happening, I can see these people sit down, fight it out, make a joke, tell funny stories about their first kisses,” like all those kinds of things that you have as a family. I think that we are also masters at that. Both of these shows have these anchors that are just so dynamic and to be on two shows like that, that they’re not just like, “Oh, I like that show.” It’s like if you like Blue Bloods or you like Pretty Little Liars, you are fully in. You are committed, you are a part of the family, you are curious. I almost rather just not work as much but get to be in things that matter to people in a big way. So I mean, I don’t understand how I got lucky enough to be in both of those shows, but it’s pretty cool. It’s nice and both of the shows, we’re big families and I think that’s what makes it show work really well.