411mania Interviews: Will Estes
Will Estes stars in the hit CBS series Blue Bloods as NYPD officer Jamie Reagan. In the first season, Jamie was a former Harvard law student that instead followed his heart and his family’s footsteps by becoming a police officer. Jamie’s father is the commissioner of the NYPD played by living legend Tom Selleck. The first season ended with the resolution of a mystery regarding a shadowy, renegade cabal of law enforcement officers known as the Blue Templar who were involved with the death of Jamie’s brother, Joe. In the second season, Jamie has now graduated from rookie status as the story continues.
Will previously starred in the TV series American Dreams as JJ Pryor. Most recently he did some work on a little movie called The Dark Knight Rises directed by Christopher Nolan and set for release in the summer of 2012. Will also appeared in such movies as May and the submarine WWII action movie, U-571 opposite Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, and Bill Paxton. I recently got to speak with Will while he was in New York filming the new season of Blue Bloods:
Jeffrey Harris: The first season of this show was great. It was almost like it’s own movie and the climax with the Blue Templar was awesome.
Will Estes: Glad you enjoyed it.
Jeffrey Harris: So what is going on with Jamie this season? I assume he’s no longer a rookie and he’s not being trained by Nick Tuturro’s character anymore, right?
Will Estes: Right. Yeah, you’ve done your homework. That’s so cool, thanks a lot. Anthony Renzulli played by Nick Tuturro, Sgt. Renzulli we call him. Yeah, my character’s no longer a rookie. I mean he’s still a new cop, sure, but he’s by no means a veteran. But it’s not like his first day on the job or anything like that. So I will still be working with Nick. I’ll still be working with him. Nick will be back, but my character will be doing some other stuff. Early on in the season, I do some real basic undercover work in a bar trying to bust some underage service of alcohol to some minors. And we’re supposed to report on any other drug sales or drug activity on the premises. And while doing that I ended up bumping into a guy who has organized crime connections whose like a nice guy, a guy of my age. And we kind of hit it off and he ends up getting in a little bit of trouble OD’ing and my character helps him out and sort of befriends the guy. And leaves open a big window for my character to sort of go in and be friends and be part of a family that’s connected to organized crime. So my character is presumably going to get to do more undercover work this year. And I’m really looking forward to that.
Jeffrey Harris: I heard Jamie gets a new partner and it’s a lady?
Will Estes: Yeah. A great actress, Monica Raymund, came in and played the partner. And I hope to get to do more of that. Unfortunately sometimes – these great ideas for storylines, some of the arcs, are more set than others. And I hope I get a chance to do more of that, but a lot of those scripts are not yet written or finalized yet so some of that stuff is still up in the air.
Jeffrey Harris: And this girl was friends with Jamie in the police Academy? Have we seen her before in the pilot?
Will Estes: We were friends in the academy but we’ve not seen her before.
Jeffrey Harris: Jamie is single and had a lot of girls crawling all over him wanting to become his badge bunny last season. Is there going to be romance in store for Jamie this season?
Will Estes: I don’t know about a lot of girls crawling all over but it sounds good when you say it like that. But yeah, right now there is not a romance happening for Jamie. As an actor, that’s always fun stuff to do and Jamie works hard. I think he deserves a little romance in his life. So that’s something I’d like to see on my end too.
Jeffrey Harris: I really enjoyed the relationship last season Jamie had with his training officer, Renzulli. Nick Tuturro has played characters like this before, but what made it interesting was him mentoring the new cop in Jamie and showing him the ropes. How did you like working with Nick Tuturro?
Will Estes: Yeah, thank you so much. Nick and I really sort of hit it off. It’s funny; he did NYPD Blue and played a cop. And it’s funny, as an actor, he’s sort of done what I’m doing now before in some ways. And as his, he’s playing a veteran sergeant police officer who is sort of showing my character the ropes on the screen. Nick and I really connected and we are friends off the set as well. And I think there’s some real parallels there that really help us feed the work. We’ve developed a friendship and an affinity and a respect for each other, and we get along. We enjoy each other’s company. So I really think that serves the work. I think that’s really what’s fed our relationship. We’ve had some times smaller moments on the show, page wise, but Nick and I always enjoy the heck out of working with each other. And I think that helps us and I think that’s something we’re able to bring to the work too.
Jeffrey Harris: I think what drew me to the show in the first season was that it was not your typical procedural drama. It came off more like a family drama and almost a sitcom where all the family members are associated with law enforcement. All the cop elements were well done, but the almost came off secondary to the family relationships and dynamics. And now that the show runner has changed with someone from Law and Order, will this change the dynamic of the show at all in your opinion?
Will Estes: I think to be honest with you; we had a great first season. We had a blast. But I think in show, the first season, there are speed bumps to be worked out and things that need to be worked out. And we had some people that left the show, some good people, and some good people that came and joined the show. I really feel like the second season, things are running smoother than ever. And that’s a really long way of saying no, I don’t think it’s going to change the dynamic of the show. I think the show at its best is a driving procedural with at its heart being a character driven drama. I think our best episodes are episodes in which you find out about how police affects these characters that you know and care about. I think those are some of the best episodes of in my humble opinion of procedural shows that are on the air. Those episodes where you find out more about the main characters and what’s going on with them and how that work affected them.
Jeffrey Harris: This show is a tremendous ensemble cast with Tom Selleck as your dad, and Donnie Wahlberg as your brother. He’s a tremendous character actor. Bridget Moynahan plays your sister. What is it like being in this series and coming back for a second season with this great group of talent including yourself?
Will Estes: It’s exciting. Like I said, we had a great first season. I think it just feels like everything is running really smoothly this year so far and as an actor, personally for me, working with Tom Selleck is a dream come true. He’s a professional and such a presence and an icon. And he brings that to his work every day. And working with Donnie is a blast. He’s so much fun and such a talented actor. Bridget is incredible. Len Cariou. I get to work with Nick Tuturro. I don’t have a lot of scenes with her, but Jennifer Esposito is fantastic as well. In my humble opinion, I don’t think we could have a better cast. It’s really a great cast and I go to work excited about that every day.
Jeffrey Harris: I think you got the power cast on TV right now.
Will Estes: Yeah, it’s a great cast.
Jeffrey Harris: Alright, now suckas gots to know. What is going on with your shooting on The Dark Knight Rises? What is going to happen to Batman? What is going on with Catwoman? Do you get a makeout scene with Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle? What is going on, we got to know.
Will Estes: If they gave me a cat, no pun intended, to let out of the bag, I would do it. I had a blast. I worked a couple days. I’m supposed to go back and do some more. I’m playing a police officer, but I’m a huge fan of the Dark Knight series, especially Chris Nolan’s work on it. I’m a huge Christian Bale fan. He looks incredible in the suit. I got to actually see the Bat-pod go by, the motorcycle with the huge tires. It’s been a blast and there’s no cat for me to let out of a bad, but I’m looking forward to seeing the film myself.
Jeffrey Harris: So you’re not going to put on a mask and red suit and become Robin? Or perhaps become Nightwing?
Will Estes: You know I was talking to Chris about that. I suggested it, but he didn’t seem fired up about it.
Jeffrey Harris: It seems Nolan does a good job of giving even some minor and incidental characters in his Batman movies some presence and screen time. Do you know what type of character you will have and will you get some lines on film?
Will Estes: Yeah, I’ve got a few lines. To be totally clear, they didn’t sit down and break down a whole script for me. And that day, on the day, things got added a little bit. And I’m excited about it. I think frankly between you and me, it’s a part that could get cut out of the film and it would still be a complete movie. But I had a blast working on it. And if Chris Nolan says, “Would you be in my movie?” I got to say yes. I had a great time and I look forward to seeing it.
Jeffrey Harris: If you got cut out of the movie, we’d have to start an online campaign to make sure you stay in.
Will Estes: I’ve just been telling all my friends that I’m Batman. It just sounds better.
Jeffrey Harris: What is the other movie you worked on recently with Amanda Righetti, Dangerous Attraction? Amanda Righetti is one of the leads on another hit CBS series, The Mentalist. And to go with the comic book movie connection, she’s reportedly working on The Avengers film.
Will Estes: Oh yeah, that’s actually news to me. I didn’t even know she was, but that makes perfect sense. Dangerous Attraction, I think I was mistaken. I actually thought that’s what they were changing the name to. I believe that’s just internationally. Here in the United States, I believe the name is still Shadow.
Jeffrey Harris: How did you like working with Amanda Righetti?
Will Estes: Her and I are friends. I love Amanda. She’s just awesome. She’s a talent and an amazing girl. She kind of said, “Hey, do you want to do this with me?” And I said, “Absolutely. I absolutely want to do this with you.” It’s based on a true story of a woman that was stalked. It’s a great piece for Amanda and I get to play someone a little different. I get to play the guy that gets a little bit fixated on Amanda Righetti which is understandable for a lot of guys but I take it to a weird level. I’m looking forward to that and it was great working with Amanda too.
Jeffrey Harris: You started in show business at a young age. What has it been like growing up in this business and what did you have to learn?
Will Estes: You know a lot. It was a drawn out learning experience for me. I didn’t sort of jump in and become the star of a show like Full House like the Olsen twins or something like that. I didn’t get started that quite young either. I got started at about ten years old and I didn’t do that much until I was a little bit older, but it was a learning curve. I think it can be a tough industry for young people who come out from anywhere to Los Angeles and New York and try to get into the industry. It’s an industry where you can be on top one day and in a completely different day on the next. And I think what was great for me I always had my family and my friends. I always home. If I didn’t get a job, I went home every night. I think that if you come from somewhere else and move to a place like that . . . it can be a real tough road to haul. I’ve just been in it a long and I’m just really grateful for the work that I have and that I continue to have. That’s what I really bring from it every day. I’ve been doing it a long time and I love what I get to do as long as I am able to do it. I’m really grateful about the work that I have.
Jeffrey Harris: Now I got to talk to you about one of my favorite war/sub movies, U-571, which you worked on alongside my fellow Texas Longhorn, Matthew McConaghey.
Will Estes: That’s right.
Jeffrey Harris: What was it like at that point in your life? You’re a young actor and you’re booked in this big movie, period piece and action movie. Can you talk about the experience at all?
Will Estes: Absolutely. That was one of those rare experiences. We shot that in Italy for about six months and I’m still great friends with the guys that I worked with on that project. It was a bunch of young guys. It was the first big movie that I worked on. It was literally the time of our lives in the way that, we literally had moments where we looked at each other and we knew it then. It was so exciting and so cool then. We knew we were having the time of our lives kind of while it was happening. Usually you have the time of your life, and you look back and go that was the time of my life. But we knew it while it was happening. Working with Jonathan Mostow, the director, was so cool and Harvey Keitel was a serious highlight. Not to mention Matthew McConaghey and Bill Paxton and Jon Bon Jovi who is one of the coolest guys I’ve worked with as well. It was awesome. It was sort of like, you want to do a lot of things as an actor and you want to stretch. But getting to play a submarine sailor in a WWII picture with those guys is – it’s up there, you know? It’s up there.
Jeffrey Harris: Will thank you so much for your time. Keep up the great work on Blue Bloods. I can’t wait to see all the trouble Jamie is going to get into this season.
Will Estes: I enjoy 411mania myself. Thank you so much Jeff.
Blue Bloods airs Fridays on CBS. Thank you to Will for taking time out of his schedule to speak with us.