Even now, though, the ex-model label carries a stigma. Robin Green, the cocreator of Blue Bloods, says she initially brushed off Wahlberg’s suggestion that she cast Moynahan on the show. Based on his experience working with her on the TV pilot Bunker Hill, Wahlberg thought she would be great as his feisty Blue Bloods sister, but Green was unenthusiastic. “I thought, Oh, please—a fashion model?” she says. But after viewing clips of Bunker Hill, Green revised her opinion, and now says, “She had balls. She’s a tough girl. There’s a lot going on there.”
On Blue Bloods, Moynahan has made a point of asking to be dressed in a moderately priced wardrobe rather than designer duds. As veteran producer Leonard Goldberg explains, “She wanted to play down the fact that she is so beautiful. She wanted the character to be taken seriously as an assistant district attorney and a mother.” (But somewhere inside her, the top model still lives: Harris says she once told him, “I wish I weren’t wearing gray and purple all the time.”)
Moynahan insists she doesn’t mind the process of proving what she can do onscreen. “I like to audition,” she says. “I wouldn’t have gotten my last two films if I hadn’t.” She sought the Blue Bloods role because she thought a TV series would offer a more stable life for her son, allowing them to stay in one place rather than jet the world to movie locales.
Friends and strangers often ask what advice she would give to other women who find themselves single and pregnant, but she doesn’t see herself as a role model. “I can’t help anyone make the decision,” she says. Recalling her initial dismay, she says, “I don’t think any girl grows up dreaming of being a single mom.” Moynahan, whose periods had been irregular, says she was nearly two months along by the time she realized she was pregnant, adding, “It was a complete surprise.” I ask whether her age or religion played into her decision to keep the baby. “There’s a lot of things that play into it,” she replies. “I’m Catholic, but I also support pro-choice. That’s a fun balance.”
I mention that at least she did not have to worry about money—Tom Brady’s latest contract is worth a reported $72 million—and she bristles, saying, “I knew I could support my child.” Point made, the warmth returns to her voice as she continues, “I knew my career was not going to suffer if I had this child. I knew I had the support of my friends and family.” And yet, she allows, “you know what a struggle it is. No matter if you’ve got everything going for you or you don’t.”
Part of the struggle was the crash course in loyalty that she received. “There were people that I had been there for a million times over—and not even a phone call,” she says. “And there were friends who I hadn’t heard from in years who stepped up—‘Whatever you need.’ ” Her parents and Sam Harris, her birth coach, were with her in the hospital during a very long labor. As Harris recalls, “She was in pain. She said, ‘Sing to me.’ So I sang, ‘I’ll be loving you, always.’ Tears rolled down her cheeks, tears rolled down my cheeks.” Asked about the baby’s father, she says, “He was not in the room. He was there on that day and came in afterward. He certainly wasn’t holding my hand while I was pushing.”
Moynahan says that since then her priority has been to create a happy home. “My son has two loving parents in an extended family, whether it’s cousins or stepmothers or boyfriends,” she says. “My son is surrounded by love.” Nonetheless, coparenting may have its complications. “It’s a challenge,” says Harris. “Here is the most valuable part of your life, your child, and you have to learn to let go and hand him over to the person that you couldn’t communicate enough with to have a relationship.”