Bridget Moynahan started her career as a model, but spend five minutes with her and you quickly realize that she’s stylish, yes, but also substantive. She easily chats about her dedication to Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and her 8-year-old John (nicknamed Jack). And on CBS’ Blue Bloods, she plays attorney and single mom Erin Reagan, one of her most complex characters yet.
Serendipity: On Blue Bloods, the family dinner table is a staple scene, recurring in each episode. How did it inspire The Blue Bloods Cookbook: 120 Recipes That Will Bring Your Family to the Table?
Bridget Moynahan: I had been talking about it for years. It felt like it was a natural extension of the show, since we’re all sitting around and eating every week. I was discussing it with Wendy Goldberg, the executive producer’s wife, and we decided to collaborate. There are recipes from the family dinners [on the show], and cast members also included recipes of their own and some from their families. Tom [Selleck] gave a roast—he is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. You won’t find a vegetable on his plate ever!
Serendipity: What are your favorite recipes in the cookbook?
BM: One of my favorite recipes is the Swedish meatball sandwich. You can prep it beforehand and if you’re traveling to someone else’s house, you can bring all the ingredients and whip it up [there]. There’s a summer cous cous that every summer I’d make and bring to barbecues at my best friend’s house. There’s a stuffed shells that I got from my best friend’s mom. Every time I’d go over there, I’d be begging her to make those stuffed shells. I am not a chef. I’m somebody who cooks.
Serendipity: How about your son—which recipe gets his vote and which does he like to help make?
BM: He likes cooking cookies! That’s a funny thing about the boys on the show—they donated [the] chocolate chip cookie [recipe]. That’s what my son cooks. He loves Swedish meatballs; he would eat that every day.
Serendipity: Did you grow up with regular family dinners?
BM: Yes, I grew up having family dinner every single night and then the extended family over for every holiday. [Now] we have family dinners every single day. We don’t go out to dinner that often. I live in New York City, and ordering in is easy, but I prefer to cook. My siblings don’t live in the city, so that kind of family dinner doesn’t happen as often, although we try to make family time on summer breaks and when the kids are free. [For me] the best is just having friends over. Your friends often become your family at different parts of your adult life.
Serendipity: What’s it like working with co-stars Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg?
BM: Tom has been in the business for a long time. He’s an iconic figure and a natural patriarch. He is somebody that has a lot of advice, but he’s not going to force it on you. He shows by example. Donny is the same way but in a goofy, fun way. He’s more of a character. He’s always goofing off at the table with his food and trying to make people laugh.
Serendipity: You started your career as a model and transitioned into acting. How did you do it?
BM: I chose to go to acting school while I was still modeling and pursue it and study it before I started going on auditions. I didn’t want to be unprepared. I was fortunate that I had an agent, through commercial work I had done, and they got me into legitimate casting calls for TV and film roles. I was fortunate to get in on Sex and the City as Natasha, and Coyote Ugly because they did a broad search for that role and movie.
Serendipity: Has anyone inspired or mentored you along the way?
BM: I came from a family that was not in this business and had no contacts and no connections. I didn’t really have a mentor in this field, but I did have parents who took the chance to allow me to pursue modeling and then acting, and to leave school to do that. It was not an easy decision for them or the norm for them to think this was smart, logical or a path to success. I feel blessed to have two parents who were willing to take that chance for me and with me. Thankfully, it paid off. I hope I can be open to it [with Jack], and I’m sure I’ll learn more about what he desires and is capable of as he grows older.
Serendipity: How has being a mom influenced your role as Nicky’s mother on Blue Bloods?
BM: Being mother to a teenage son and a teenage daughter is [probably] two different beasts. Being a mother to this particular woman is probably not [like parenting] your normal teenager. She’s very mature, in some ways, beyond her years. She’s an extremely hard worker, so it’s been a pleasure as an actor to see someone her age dedicate herself. It’ll be nice if we can explore that dynamic more. Now that Nicky is in college, there are more opportunities to explore the things that she’ll have to go through.
Serendipity: What else do you hope for your character now that you’re in the sixth season? Maybe a love interest?
BM: Someone just asked me, “When is she getting married?” Married? She hasn’t even gone on a date! I don’t know if anything romantic is in the pipeline. I’ve had some different actors to play with in the detective role, and it’s been interesting to explore the complexities of the cases. Every season is still a question mark.
Serendipity: You’re a longtime volunteer and advocate for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. What has that been like?
BM: I’ve been working with The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for eight years. This is a very important organization to me. [All of the parents I’ve met] have expressed that the gift that this organization gives to children and families and siblings is life changing and they can’t do enough for the camp. Some parents [I’ve met have] lost their children. Some [have] told me that their kids are now volunteering or a leader in training. One of the campers [I met] had spent many years in the oncology unit getting treatment for cancer, and it’s now her goal to become an oncology nurse. It’s so incredible the joy and support that The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp gives to these families, and they realize illness does not just affect one person in the family.
Serendipity: What would surprise people about you?
BM: You can’t give me a potato that I won’t eat. I’ll eat it raw, boiled, I don’t care. I love potatoes and I love my steaks. I tried to be vegetarian. I just need my meat and potatoes. I don’t eat a lot of pizza. Like anything in life, you have to have a balance.
Serendipity: What’s next for you?
BM: I feel blessed that the show has gone on as long as it has, and I hope it continues. I’d like to continue to squeeze in a film during the shooting year and do one during break and have quality family time with my son.