New Cop on the Block: Donnie Wahlberg

The "Blue Bloods" star takes on another district as executive producer of the TNT reality show "Boston's Finest"—and also plans a summer tour with his old band

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
donnie wahlberg image
Photograph: Danny Clinch/TNT

More: I read about your loss. Can you take me back to those days?
DW: I remember being in the hospital waiting room and what it was like having our big family there. Until my sister passed away, after a few days, she was only kept alive by machines. We were all there. It was amazing how everyone bonded and always made sure my mom was OK and holding it together. It was such a powerful experience, and made us pull together immediately. Everything else in life went out the window and we did what we did to get through something so tragic. Although I don’t like to call on personal memories when I am acting, it does help me understand the character better and make the story more believable for the audience.

More: Because you come from a close-knit family, this experience must have been so painful for you.
DW: It was unexpected and just awful. But we are tough, we love each other and band together in the bad times. 

More: While we are on the subject of family, how do you juggle a busy Hollywood career and being a single dad to two children?
DW: That’s been tough, and a real sacrifice for my two boys. They know I love working the different jobs and they are very proud and excited by them all. In fact, my little boy, who is 11 years old, is going to come on tour with me this summer. At the same time, it’s been a real struggle. He is in a new school but only on rare occasions do I get to drive him to school.

More: Does he understand?
DW: He knows about my work. What’s unfortunate is that I get to attend so few of his special events, and for me that poses a real challenge. In fact, I just had a four-day weekend with him and it was so hard to leave because he sacrifices so much for his dad. As for my older son, he is 19 years old, so it is different for him.

More: Some of your fans still remember you as a member of the popular group New Kids on the Block. While some performers try to break away from the boy-band image, you are returning to it by headlining a production called The Package Tour. Why?
DW: I got the NKOTB back together five years ago. I can’t say everyone thought it was the best idea in the world, but I believe in it and my band mates. I think we have something special to offer and people wanted to see and hear it again. To me, that is a great feeling. I feel much better about my band than I did 20 years ago; in fact, I am happier to be a part of it now than I was back then. On Blue Bloods, I am the actor; I show up and do my thing. With the New Kids, I am the executive producer. I have a lot more creative input. It’s a really good balance, and always a great challenge.

More: Was it hard to make the transition from “boy-band member” to “serious Hollywood actor”?
DW: It was tough, but I don’t think my journey was any tougher than any other actor's. If you have ever been on an audition, you know how intimidating it can be walking into a room and seeing hundreds of people trying out for one part. No role was handed to me because I was a New Kid. I had to really fight hard and work hard to earn the industry’s respect. I was determined to stick with it long enough, and I did, until the breaks came.

Boston's Finest premieres on TNT February 27 at 9 pm ET.

Blue Bloods airs on CBS at 10 pm ET on Friday nights.

Next: Meet 'Portlandia's' Carrie Brownstein

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