Interviews

Photo Credit: Howard Wise/jpistudios.com.

Get to know the actor who plays Billy Abbott on CBS' hit Daytime drama The Young and the Restless.

Reporting by Malcolm Venable

In case you missed it, Daytime's #1 drama, The Young and the Restless, has been renewed through 2024! Cast member Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott) joined the show in 2016 and has quickly become a fan favorite. Watch! interviewed the Y&R star and chatted about his inspiration, his first day in Genoa City, and being bit by the acting bug.

Watch The Young and the Restless Weekdays on CBS and CBS All Access. <

Jason Thompson from The Young and the Restless.

Jason Thompson suits up for The Young and the Restless.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My parents have always been big inspirations for me. I have two kids now. So when I see the the sacrifices they made for me to have the opportunities that I have now, I'm doubly inspired.

   

Jason Thompson and Peter Bergman on the set of The Young and the Restless.

Jason Thompson as Billy Abbott and Peter Bergman as Jack Abbott on Y&R.

Photo Credit: Howard Wise/jpistudios.com.

Watch! is all about television's hottest shows. Tell us about The Young and the Restless and your character Billy Abbott. How has he evolved over the years?

Yeah Billy is a pretty reckless dude. He's kind of all over the place all the time, which is super fun to play. I'm excited to go to work every day.

My character has had big couple of years. He has a gambling addiction, then fell off the wagon, and had to get his life back!

   

Jason Thompson, wife Paloma Jonas, daughter Rome Coco and son Bowie Banjo attend a charity event.

Jason Thompson, wife Paloma Jonas, daughter Rome Coco, and son Bowie Banjo attend a charity event.

Photo Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images.

What do you like to do when not filming Y&R?

I still play hockey. I surf. I have two kids so my time is pretty full with that.

   

Jason Thompson laying in a hospital bed for a scene in The Young and the Restless.

Jason Thompson in one of his first scenes as Billy Abbott on The Young and the Restless.

Photo Credit: Sean Smith/jpistudios.com

Do you remember your first day on the Y&R set?

I do. I spent it in a hospital bed because my character was in a coma.

   

Jason Thompson and Amelia Heinle in The Young and the Restless.

Jason Thompson as Billy Abbott and Amelia Heinle as Victoria Nicole Newman on Y&R.

Photo Credit: Howard Wise/jpistudios.com.

Why did you decide to become an actor?

I love telling stories. I love to be able to do that. The medium of storytelling and television and acting is an amazing thing to try and share with people, it's a sense of connection that brings me joy.

Watch The Young and the Restless Weekdays on CBS and CBS All Access.

   

Jason Thompson playing character Billy Abbott on The Young and the Restless.\u200b

Jason Thompson playing character Billy Abbott on the #1 Daytime drama The Young and the Restless.

Photo Credit:Howard Wise/jpistudios.com.

Photo Credit: Ben Hoffmann/Countour by Getty Images.


Exclusive interview with comic genius Kristen Johnston, who plays Tammy Diffendorf on CBS' hit TV comedy Mom.

That voice, those lips, those eyes full of mischief—Kristen Johnston is back and Mom's got her! "I'd left the sitcom world for a while to do theater," says the actress, who won two Emmy Awards for her spectacularly extreme extraterrestrial Sally on the '90s hit 3rd Rock from the Sun. "I was just going to do this one Mom episode as a guest star two seasons ago, but then they had me back, and then this season [executive producer] Chuck Lorre said, 'We want you permanently.' That was a great day!"

Anna Faris, Allison Janney, and Kristen Johnston on the set of TV show Mom.

Anna Faris as Christy, Allison Janney as Bonnie, and Kristen Johnston as Tammy in Mom.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

For us, too: What could be better than weekly doses of Johnston's signature screwball brilliance, playing the just-out-of-jail recovering alcoholic and full-time loon Tammy Diffendorf? "Tammy is very funny, very sweet, very naive, and both really smart and borderline stupid," says a huskily chortling Johnston, who's long professed a jones for deeply flawed characters. "I love playing people who live in the gray area," she confirms. "Those who aren't good or bad or sweet or mean or smart or dumb—they're all of it. Because we are all of that: One minute we're clever and the next minute we're idiots."

Actress Kristen Johnston promoting her memoir.

Kristen Johnston promotes her memoir Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster on a book tour.

Photo Credit: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images.

Yep. Just as you bust yourself as being in Guts, your fabulously funny, best-selling 2012 addiction memoir, now a must-read staple of the rehab set. And here you are on Mom, a show actually about—

—finding the humor and joy in recovery and sobriety! On a personal and professional level, Mom resonates so deeply, because one of the greatest things I learned in early recovery is that it's fun—you can laugh. It's not just 10 depressed people in a grim room somewhere. So to sort of stumble onto Mom years later? It means a lot.

   

Anna Faris, Allison Janney, and Kristen Johnston on the set of Mom.

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.

The show, with its genius cast, headed by Allison Janney and Anna Faris, continues your grand tradition of working with the crème de la crème of ensembles that began with 3rd Rock's John Lithgow, French Stewart, and a teenage Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Just wow.

I've been so lucky because I'm a weird person to cast. I have a specific look and I'm not right for everything. So the fact that 3rd Rock was so perfect for me and happened when I was in my 20s was just one of those crazy, miraculous things. And it's happened in bigger and smaller ways later in my career where the role and project met up so perfectly.

Kristen Johnston and Anna Faris on the set of TV show Mom.

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

Like your immortal one-off turn as the aging party girl in Sex and the City who, seconds before she falls out of a window to her demise—splat!—mutters, "I'm so bored I could die."

Honestly, once a week—still—somebody says that line to me. Paget Brewster was a guest star on Mom and she did it. I was living in New York when the show originally aired, and I couldn't walk down the street without being attacked by gay men making me do their outgoing phone machine messages. [Laughs.]

   

Amy Sedaris, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristen Johnston attend HBO's Sex and the City season premiere screening after-party in New York City.

Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

Well, your trademark larger-than-life characters have unquestionably made you a gay fave. Onstage in NYC you've even played gossip-monger Sylvia in The Women and The Skin of Our Teeth's Sabina, a role originated by über gay icon Tallulah Bankhead for God's sake!

Exactly! I've been one for so long! [Laughs.] My understanding of and the influence of gay culture in my life and career...I owe everything to it. I really connect with those very dynamic, glamorous, evil, funny, larger-than-life women.

Allison Janney and Kristen Johnston on the set of TV show Mom.

Photo Credit: Robert Voets/CBS.

And then there's Mom's Tammy, who is certainly larger than life, but ...

Tammy is probably one of the gentler roles I've played recently. She's just a very sweet person who comes from a place that... hasn't understood gay culture the way Kristen has. [Laughs.] Basically, the show needs a fabulous gay to be Tammy's new best friend!

   

Jaime Pressly, Anna Faris, Kristen Johnston, Beth Hall, and Mimi Kennedy on the set of Mom.

Jaime Pressly as Jill, Anna Farris as Christy, Kristen Johnston as Tammy, Beth Hall as Wendy and Mimi Kennedy as Marjorie in Mom.

Photo Credit: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Bingo! Tell me your first acting epiphany.

Margaret Hamilton's performance as the Wicked Witch of the West. I still get very emotional about that, because I was only 4 or 5 and it was the first time I really understood the power of a truly great performance. From that day on, I was like, "That's what I want to do--I really just want to be the Wicked Witch of the West!"

The greatest answer ever. Gift us a parting shot.

Thank God for Mom. Watch it!

Originally published in Watch! Magazine, January-February 2020.

Watch all-new episodes of Mom on Thursdays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger & Michael Nash.

As Criminal Minds rolls out its 15th and final season, the beloved cast gathers to discuss serial killers (what else?), special guest stars, and their millions of phenomenal fans in this exclusive interview.

By David Hochman

The scene is quintessential Hollywood: a train station at dusk. Steam billowing up from the tracks. Loved ones bracing for their emotional farewells. What could be more fitting for the cast of Criminal Minds?

Chugging into its 15th and final season after more than 300 episodes, the police procedural is among the 10 longest-running dramas of all time, and in the top 20 for longest-running scripted television shows. "This is Gunsmoke and Guinness Book territory," says Matthew Gray Gubler, who has played quirky FBI brainiac Dr. Spencer Reid since episode 1.

To honor the landmark occasion, all eight series regulars are gathered at a railway museum in L.A.'s Griffith Park for photos, poignant reflections, and a few behind-the-scenes confessions (mostly involving a tradition called "hot tub wine machine"—stay tuned).

On TV, the tenacious profilers of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit—or simply "BAU" to fans—are a hard-bitten bunch, tracking down serial killers and other vicious "unsubs." But in person, clearly good friends across the board and decked out today in their spiffiest finery, the cast can scarcely hold back tears as they get candid about their extended journey together and what it means to come to the end—sniff, sniff—of Criminal Minds.

Originally published in Watch! Magazine, July-August 2019.

Watch all-new episodes of Criminal Minds on Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

  

Black and white photo of the cast of Criminal Minds on a glam photo shoot.

On Rodriguez: Suit, shirt, and tie by Zara. On Vangsness: Dress, Vangsness' own. On Gubler: Suit, shirt, and tie by Prada. On Henney: Trench coat, shirt, tie, and pants by Dior Homme. Watch by Hamilton Watch Company. On Tyler: Dress by Dolce & Gabbana. Shoes by Alexander McQueen. Earrings and necklace, Tyler's own. On Mantegna: Suit, shirt, tie, and pocket square by Calvin Klein. Socks by Happy Socks. Shoes by Magnanni. Tie bar by The Tie Bar. Watch, Mantegna's own. On Cook: Vintage trench coat by Versace. Shoes by Fendi. Earrings by Jagger and Co. On Brewster: Dress by Simone Rocha. Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Ring from The Ruby Fashion Library.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger & Michael Nash.

WATCH: Behind The Scenes With The Killer Cast Of Criminal Minds

Judging from the misty eyes and group hugs, it looks like the series wrap-up is generating "all the feels," as they say. Are you able to get through scenes this season without a tissue break?

Joe Mantegna (Senior Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, Seasons 3-present): This is my 50th year in show business, and next to voicing on The Simpsons, Rossi is my longest-running role. I came in with dark hair and now it's gray. I arrived without much of a game plan, and the show and character are now a deep part of who I am. This cast is a true family for me. So every episode this year has an added bittersweet layer. When the director announces, "This is the last profile scene" or "This is our last scene on the jet," you look around with a real sense of passing. It's monumental.

Kirsten Vangsness (BAU Technical Analyst and Media Liaison Penelope Garcia, Seasons 1-present): The term that keeps coming up is "ambiguous loss"—that feeling of losing something you love, and that everything's about to change. In this case it's not a person, thank goodness. But still, in the middle of a scene, it hits you. But you can't cry; you have all this makeup on. Plus, what are you crying for? It's been such an incredible experience. I will have done every single episode except episode 5, every episode of the first spinoff, and two episodes of the second spinoff. I love these people. No, sir. I'm not crying. You're crying. [Editor's note: She's crying.]

Paget Brewster (Supervisory Special Agent and BAU Unit Chief Emily Prentiss, Seasons 2-7, 9, 11-present): Um, I'm in complete denial, so I'll break down into tears the week after we end, but not before. I'm pretending this show's never, ever going to end.

  

A.J. Cook and Matthew Gray Gubler of Criminal Minds crossing train tracks.

On Cook: Dress by Victoria Beckham. Vintage purse by Moschino. Shoes by YSL. Earrings by Jagger and Co. On Gubler: Sweater, shirt, and pants by Prada. Shoes by Alden Shoes.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger & Michael Nash.

Without spoiling anything, what can you say about Season 15?

A.J. Cook (Supervisory Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, Seasons 1-present): Well, I can tell you that we will find out what happens now that JJ has expressed her true feelings for Dr. Reid.

Matthew Gray Gubler (Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid, Seasons 1-present): Don't you mean "Jeid?" That's what the internet is calling us. Hey, I'm not spoiling anything. I mean, don't rule out, uh, "Jemily" or "Jarcia" this season, either!

Adam Rodriguez (Supervisory Special Agent Luke Alvez, Seasons 12-present): And we do have guest stars. We love guest stars! [Editor's note: Among others, watch for Jane Lynch to return as Reid's schizophrenic mother, and for Rachael Leigh Cook as a potential new love interest for Reid.]

Daniel Henney (Supervisory Special Agent Matt Simmons, Seasons 10, 12-present): Overall, I'd say 15 has more of an arc through the episodes than previous seasons. Our unsub, Chameleon, is played by Michael Mosley, and he's definitely into some gruesome, creepy stuff.

Brewster: Like, we have a scene where a bunch of body parts are hanging from a tree. Our prop guy, who's a professional fisherman in real life, was on top of a 15-foot ladder with a foot and an ear hanging off his fishing pole.

Aisha Tyler (Special Agent Dr. Tara Lewis and forensic psychologist, Seasons 11-present): And people wonder why my house in L.A. is like a fortress and I'm armed! I'd say it's a direct result of Criminal Minds. This show is definitely dark. I'm not going around profiling sociopaths and serial killers, but, yeah, being on Criminal Minds, you become more perceptive about people's bad behavior.

Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds posing in front of a vintage locomotive.

Trench coat by Zara. Turtleneck by Barneys New York. Pants by Zara. Socks by Happy Socks. Shoes by Magnanni.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Michael Nash.

Anybody else find it hard letting go in real life after chasing serial killers at work all day?

Cook: I'm blessed with a good shut-off switch. Once the day's done, I can block everything out. But as soon as I became a mom, something shifted where the naive girl from Canada got the boot and mama bear arrived. We saw that happen with JJ on the show, too. When she became a mom, it was suddenly like, "Whoa, watch out for that guy in the park!"

Henney: I'll tell you a story. About two months ago, I'm at home sleeping and a burglar alarm goes off, and I literally switched into Simmons mode. All the training I'd done with the FBI guys and our tech advisers instantly came into play. I threw on black sweatpants. I was creeping around the perimeter of my house, FBI-style. I clocked all my points of ingress and egress. When you do so many episodes, basic instincts kick in.

Did you identify the unsub?

Henney: Nobody was there! It was a stupid, faulty window sensor.

Brewster: The show definitely sharpens your reactions to your surroundings. When you start the show, you have access to the FBI training manual, which, frankly, no civilian should ever see because the photographs are so grisly. You end up going through a period of hypervigilance where you can't go into a sandwich shop or airport without thinking, Uh-oh! I think that couple's going to end up in a domestic dispute tonight.

  

Daniel Henney of Criminal Minds in between train cars.

Shirt, tie, and pants by Prada. Shoes by Tom Ford. Watch by Hamilton Watch Company.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Michael Nash.

Group question: What's your standout memory from these many seasons?

Rodriguez: I jumped onto this flying carpet 12 seasons in, and my first scene was out in the middle of the desert, and we shot all night long. There was an old car that was supposed to be in the scene, but it broke down and they ended up rolling it into the shot, which was funny. But more than that, I remember how welcoming people were. I was the new guy, but I felt immediately at home.

Brewster: We watched your family grow, too, Adam. You had a kid. A.J. had two kids. I met my husband on set. We've been lucky enough to live our lives and develop together as people.

Cook: For me, having both my boys appear in the show was an absolute treasure. Mekhai, who's 10, has been doing it way longer than Phoenix, who's 4, and he loves it, though I can't tell if it's the acting or that everybody's giving him cookies and ice cream all the time.

Henney: I was really proud to play Simmons because, as an Asian American actor, you don't often get the chance to play the quintessential American guy's guy. He's married to a Caucasian woman and has mixed-race children—which is true with me, too [Henney is also of mixed descent]—and I loved representing that on television. To have a kissing scene with Kelly, my wife on the show—you weren't seeing that 10 years ago.

Tyler: Directing a couple episodes was an incredible opportunity. But for me, just the experience of seeing this through to the end is so rewarding. I was only supposed to do six episodes. Everything's been gravy since then.

Mantegna: Hands down, my highlight was being able to work in my passion for law enforcement and the military by making my FBI character a former Marine. That allowed me to bring in Meshach Taylor, one of my dearest, oldest friends, as my commanding officer in Vietnam, and directing two of the three episodes that involved him as a character.

That included the episode where his character died, because Meshach had died. To actually bury him on camera as my dear friend—I'm the godfather of his kids, and he's the godfather of mine—it was everything. If I do nothing else on television, doing that for Meshach to me means the top of the ladder.

Black and white photo of Aisha Tyler in train station.

Trench coat by 3.1 Phillip Lim. Briefcase by Art Dept. Clothing. Earrings and necklace, Tyler's own.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger.

TV shows come and go. How do you explain the enduring success of Criminal Minds?

Tyler: Well, I'd say it's not about prurient interest in the macabre. I think the reason people like the show is because we want to know that there's a smart, dedicated team of professionals out there working very hard to make sure that the rest of us stay safe. Even if we don't know who they are and we can't see them, it's comforting that people are sacrificing their personal lives and their relationships so that they can put evil people away.

Rodriguez: I meet young people all the time, teenagers, who love the show and say they love the game of it all—figuring out how these processes work and the skills that go into solving crimes. I think we've probably inspired a generation of people to go into this important work—on the good-guy side, not on the bad.

Cook: So many people have struggled in their lives, and they can relate to what they see on the show. Hardworking moms, people that have been abused, people who've experienced loss.

Vangsness: I think it comes down to a show with some of the greatest characters on television. Garcia is just a bundle of positive energy, and that resonated. Her desk is a living piece of art to how she's connected with the audience. I've got a papier-mâché heart pen a fan from France gave me. There's a little rabbit from a fan in Japan. A German woman knitted a Penelope doll that's sitting there. Oh, and Richard Simmons gave me a necklace one time because he loved the show!

  

Paget Brewster and Adam Rodriguez of Criminal Minds.

On Brewster: Trench dress by Khaite. On Rodriguez: Suit, shirt, and tie by Calvin Klein. Watch by Bulgari. Cuff links by The Tie Bar. Ring, Rodriguez's own.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger & Michael Nash.

Criminal Minds fans are a devoted bunch.

Henney: I once checked into a ski lodge in Switzerland and my television wasn't working, so I went to the front desk. The two desk guys started staring at me like zombies and pointed to their TV, where Criminal Minds was on, with me on the screen.

Brewster: It takes you by surprise in the weirdest places. You'll be in a bathroom at a movie theater and girls are outside whispering, That's Emily Prentiss, and they wait for you to finish so you can wash your hands and hug them.

What are you going to miss most about the show?

Cook: Um, everything. The scenes in the jet are my favorites because it's such a tight space that we forget we're on a TV show and just enjoy hanging out together. This show, for me, was a coming of age. You can look online and find me in the beginning of season 1 wearing this ridiculous pink pinstriped blazer that will haunt me forever. I look like I'm 12. But I've grown up along with JJ. [Tearing up.] I'll miss it all so much.

Gubler: Likewise, I really look up to Spencer Reid, and I feel so honored to have played him for so long. I will miss his long, you know, three-page monologues of technical jargon about protons or whatever. I'll miss the way he holds his hands like an ostrich foot when he's solving a problem. He's definitely way smarter than I'll ever be, but I like to think that some Dr. Reid qualities have imbued themselves into my own personality a little bit. If nothing else, I've adopted his ever-changing hairstyles.

Tyler: I'll miss being an FBI badass. I'd love to take the FBI jacket, but it's absolutely illegal to walk around wearing it.

Vangsness: I can tell you what I won't miss. Garcia's glasses—because I have them all already. I've bought every pair she's ever worn, so I have a collection of around 65 at home. They remind me to be confident like her, to see life through her eyes. Garcia is my Sasha Fierce.

Brewster: I will miss the hot tub wine machine.

   

Black and white photo of Kirsten Vangsness of Criminal Minds in trench coat.

Trench coat by Victoria Beckham. Dress by Elie Tahari. Shoes by Prada.

hotography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger.

Hot tub wine machine?

Vangsness: You heard that right, mister. It's an epic hot tub party at my house that the women on the show have turned into a standing gig—or more like a floating gig.

Brewster: It's basically a therapy and gossip and splashing-around session fueled by chardonnay and rosé.

Tyler: And it's ladies only because it gets kinda frisky.

Rodriguez: This is a sore subject for me even as a very securely and happily married man.

Mantegna: They do send us pictures on group text, which is thoughtful of them.

Vangsness: I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to tell you that this fine tradition makes it into our last episode. I co-wrote the finale, and we tried to cram in as many little Easter eggs and satisfying plot tie-ups as we could, both for fans and for each other. So within the episode, you'll see the BAU version of hot tub time machine. We worked really hard solving these super-intense crimes over what will be 325 episodes. After all these years, don't you think we deserve a little spa time?

SEE MORE: Exclusive Photos: Criminal Minds Cast Glams Up For Their Final Season

Originally published in Watch! Magazine, July-August 2019.

Photography by Robert Trachtenberg. Styled by Annie Jagger & Michael Nash.

Watch all-new episodes of Criminal Minds on Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS and CBS All Access.

By Jessica Shaw

Good news for #jamko fans:

Will Estes and Vanessa Ray, who play Blue Bloods' patrol partners turned precinct paramours Eddie Janko and Jamie Reagan, are every bit as adorable when the cameras aren't rolling. And that's saying something, because on-screen, these two have had a swoon-worthy run, from Jamie endearing himself to Eddie's difficult mother to Eddie's crazy jealousy when Jamie flirted with a beautiful doctor, all the way up to last season's tear-inducing engagement.

But no amount of watching Estes and Ray's on-camera chemistry can prepare you for spending an afternoon with these two, who constantly crack each other up, finish each other's sentences, and give supportive compliments—only to playfully mock each other seconds later. "Get him out of here!" Estes jokingly scolds Ray when her actual husband's name pops up on her ringing phone.

Vanessa Ray and Will Estes against a burnt orange background

On Ray: Top by Snidel. Jacket by Loewe. Necklaces by Parpala Jewelry. Rings by Astrid & Miyu and Joanna Laura Constantine. On Estes: Suit and shirt by Kenneth Cole. Tie by Joseph Abboud.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli

Sharing a couch in Ray's dressing room on the Brooklyn set, in between pop-in chats from Bloods family members Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg (not to mention a drive-by from Wahlberg's wife, Jenny McCarthy, and their brand-new Pomeranian puppies), the co-stars talked about the awkwardness of making out on camera with your real-life platonic best friend, why they were initially opposed to their characters coupling, and what the future holds for the fan favorite duo. (Spoiler alert: it may change around the seating at the Reagan family dinners!)

WATCH: Go Behind The Scenes With The Blue Bloods Cast On Their Stylish Photo Shoot

Do you remember your very first auditions to play Jamie and Eddie?

Vanessa: I auditioned on tape and then went to meet with CBS in Los Angeles. The day I went in for my callback, the casting director got stuck in an elevator and they were like, "Maybe we should reschedule for tomorrow."

But sometimes as an actor you're like, No! I'm ready right now and I don't want to come back tomorrow. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I know today I can get this job.

So I waited on the CBS lot for two hours until the fire department got the casting director out of the elevator and then I was like, "Ready?" And I got it!

Will: I auditioned for what felt like 11 times, but it was actually just four. I remember the script was my favorite thing I'd read all year. I don't think I ever told anyone this, but I was totally broke. After reading with Leonard [Goldberg, Blue Bloods' executive producer], I remember he said, "I believed you." That was an endearing vote of confidence.

Will Estes in black and white

Blazer by Selected Homme. Shirt by Joseph Abboud. Jeans by Mavi. Watch by Kronaby.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli

Will, you've been on the show since it premiered in September 2010. Vanessa, you joined in season 4. At this point, it's hard to imagine Blue Bloods without the two of you together in some capacity. Do you remember the first time you tested together? Was there instant chemistry?

Vanessa: [To Estes] I think you were skeptical of me.

Will: I don't think that!

Vanessa: Remember we were in the hallway?

Will: Is this a real story?

Vanessa: This is Will's new thing. He thinks I'm lying.

Will: At any given time you can believe 75 percent of what Vanessa is saying.

Vanessa: This story I'm positive about. I remember you were in full costume. And I think you were like, "Who is this girl? Who is this blond girl?"

Will: I remember always liking you.

Vanessa: Awww!

Vanessa Ray in Valentina Kova slip dress

Top by Alexander McQueen. Slip dress by Valentina Kova. Earrings by Astrid & Miyu and Glamrocks Jewelry.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

When Vanessa joined, was it made clear to both of you that these characters were going to be partners who eventually fall in love?

Will: One of the oddities of television is that sometimes performances dictate the story. It's a create-as-you-go format. So certainly the writers wrote it, but if we were horrible together they wouldn't have written it. Us having a great time together helped.

Vanessa: Aside from the romance, there are so many times one of our conversations will end up in the story. I'll look at a script and be like, We just had this argument or We just talked about that thing!

Like what?

Will: I've deliberately blocked it all out.

Vanessa: Anything. Our views on society or relationships in general.

Vanessa Ray and Will Estes enjoying a friendly laugh

On Ray: Dress by Billy Reid. Belts by Deborah Drattell. Ring by Officina Bernardi. On Estes: Suit by Paisley & Gray. Shirt by J.Crew. Pocket square by Hugo Boss.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

What was your reaction when the producers told you they wanted Jamie and Eddie to go from being police partners to being a romantic couple?

Vanessa: There was pushback because we thought, If you put us together, then where do we go from there?

Will: It was the Moonlighting thing. Once they got together, the story was over. The anticipation is so much better than the monster—that's what Hitchcock taught us. So we were nervous about what it was going to mean once we were together.

Vanessa: Wow. You said that way smarter than me.


Will: We're still not convinced! We just do what they tell us. We talked to them about not wanting to do anything mushy. They said they didn't want to change the dynamic.

Vanessa: But now we're having more fun than ever. We have this incredible secret that we have to hide in our precinct, and nobody can know—but everyone knows.

Will: That's such an actory thing to say. "Pretend you have a secret!" It's such an acting class exercise.

Vanessa: I know! But we actually have one!

Jacket by Necessity Sense. T-shirt by life/after/ denim. Jeans by Levi's Made & Crafted. Watch by Kronaby.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

T

here are sections of fan fiction websites devoted to Eddie and Jamie, and #jamko has joined the ranks of great couples with name-merging hashtags. When did you realize your coupling had taken off to the next level?

Will: What's a hashtag?

Vanessa: Pound Jamko. [Laughs.] I've had to do a lot of educating. Goodness gracious. A hashtag legitimizes us forever!

Will: I have these moments that stand out for me that are just as big as booking the job. One was watching Mom, and one of the characters said something like, "I'd love to come, but I can't. It cuts into my Blue Bloods time." I was like, We made it! The other time was when I was in the crossword puzzle, which was the highlight of my dad's life. Should I tell the story?

Vanessa: Tell it!

Will: The other day I was in a restaurant and this guy comes up to me and says, "I love that show you're on. I'm Ron." I'm like, "I know who you are. You're Ron Howard." I'm a huge fan of his work and of him as a person, and I got to meet him! It doesn't stop blowing me away that someone like that has even seen the show. He was like, "Say hi to Donnie. We did Ransom together."

Vanessa: I was losing my mind when he texted me.

Will: Vanessa was the first person I texted.

Vanessa Ray in profile

Dress by Agent Provocateur. Bra top by Morgan Lane. Earrings by Glamrocks Jewelry. Ring by Carolee.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

Do you ever get out of parking tickets because you have cred with NYPD's finest?

Vanessa: I've never gotten out of a ticket, but it is fun to live in New York City and hear cops in a grocery store or something going, "Hey, Janko." For them to recognize anything that we do is the best thing about this job.

Will: The drama and gravity of what cops do for a living is always an arm's length away for our stories. Maybe that's why our show has gone for so long. There's so much there at our fingertips in the real world that we can draw from. We're doing a show about heroes and cops who get it right 99 percent of the time.

What's something you now know about your character that you didn't know when you started playing him or her?

Will: Doing this job as long as I have, life is starting to imitate art. Our technical advisor, Jim [Nuciforo], starts to tell me something now and I finish the sentence.

Vanessa: That's something I admire about you, that you still check with him. I'll be like, "What do I do with the green paper?" You'll know the answer, but you'll always say, "Let's go ask Jim about it."

Will: I never want to act like I know. Jim was an NYPD cop for 23 years. I've enjoyed going to him. I ask him about everything.

Vanessa: And he answers like a dad would answer with a scenario. Not like, "You'd be angry right now." Instead, "This is what's going on, and here's a story that maybe relates to what you're doing."

Does he ever say, "This is how it's done. No deviation"?

Will: One time. He said, "Jamie would write in black ink on the DD5s." I asked why and he said because back in the day you could only write in black ink. Now you can write in any color, but Jamie would be old school. I liked that.

Vanessa Ray and Will Estes pose against a burnt orange backdrop

On Ray: Dress by Snidel. Corset by Deborah Drattell. Earrings and ring by Carolee. Bracelet by Jen Hansen. On Estes: Suit and shirt by Carlos Campos. Watch by Kronaby.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

How soon after you started playing these characters did you feel comfortable doing cop things like cuffing someone or holding a gun?

Vanessa: I had never held a gun or cuffed someone, so I felt really out of my body when I first started this job. I didn't expect that. I thought I'd be able to adapt easily, but it took me a while. One of my first days on set I was pointing a gun and someone walked by and my gut reaction was to use my hand to cover the barrel of the gun. So I've had to work a lot on physicality.

Will: I had the advantage of having played a Marine once, and there are a lot of similarities, with ex-military becoming police officers. They're coveted by the force. So I was comfortable with firearms, but by no means did I think I knew what I was doing out of the gate as an NYPD officer.


Vanessa: While we were doing the third or fourth episode, I found myself in the makeup trailer alone with Tom [Selleck]. I didn't really know him at all at that point. He said, "Hey, Vanessa. You ever been in the military?" I was like, "Oh my God. Look at me. What part of me has ever been in the military?"

Will: Did you tell him Barry's Bootcamp? [Imitating her] I almost finished a whole class!

Vanessa: I said, "Um, no, Tom Selleck, have you?" He said, "Yes. Do you know how to salute or stand at attention?" So in the hair and makeup trailer he made me stand up and stand at attention. He said, "Do it again! Don't look at me!" He kept making me salute him and stand at attention. I learned more in that trailer that day just about how to stand than anything else I've done.

Will Estes smiling and looking away

Blazer by Selected Homme. Shirt by Joseph Abboud. Jeans by Mavi. Watch by Kronaby.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.


How strange is it to be such good friends but still have to kiss on camera and be a couple?

Will: The first kiss was really weird. Or was it the second kiss?

Vanessa: The second one was way weirder than the first kiss.

Will: Because we'd become friends at that point. We'd spent a lot of hours together. We're married without the romance.

Speaking of your coupling, tell me somethinganythingabout the wedding. How's the dress?

Will: I'll tell you something. Did you know her real husband came to her wedding dress fitting? He was like, "I wanted to do this the first time around but couldn't."

Vanessa: He really did give his two cents. It was a collaboration. Our costume person, Michael Woll, and I found one we were all happiest with. When I actually got married it was a nontraditional dress. This is the complete opposite; it's very traditional. Mine was pale pink with a green muslin skirt and a separate fitted top. It was a very hippie-girl-in-the-trees kind of feel.

Vanessa, you're a trained singer. Any chance we'll be hearing you serenading Jamie?

Vanessa: Not a chance!

Vanessa Ray in a dress by Norisol Ferrari

Dress by Norisol Ferrari. Earrings by Carolee. Ring by Officina Bernardi.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

Are shooting the family dinners insanely fun ... or just insane, with so many cast members in one room?

Vanessa: I feel like I had to learn how to act at those scenes from Eddie. That sounds crazy, but my first reaction being at those dinner table scenes with legends—people who've been in the business for so many years—was to be scared. I would walk in and my confidence level was shook, but what was on the page was never that. Eddie speaks her mind. When I came into my husband's family it was the same kind of thing, and having gone through it on the show, I was able to be more honest in my real life and not shy away from outspoken moments.

Do the writers clue you in on anything they have planned for you two?

Vanessa: In broad strokes they might say where things are headed.

Will: They tell you things? They don't tell me anything. It's a great question, but a one-hour drama is all about adaptability. It's almost a different way of acting. You don't want to get too locked in because they might not write what you think.

A triptych of Vanessa Ray and Will Estes posing against a burnt orange backdrop

On Ray: Top and skirt by Snidel. Jacket by Loewe. Shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti. Necklaces by Parpala Jewelry. Rings by Astrid & Miyu and Joanna Laura Constantine. On Estes: Suit and shirt by Kenneth Cole. Tie by Joseph Abboud. Watch by Kronaby.

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli.

How can I ask this subtly? Any chance we'll see a seating change, perhaps a need for more room, at the family dinner table?

Will: We change from time to time. Vanessa is kind of new; she hasn't been at family dinner for that long. But for the most part we stick to our seats.

Vanessa: What if there's a high chair, you mean? I don't know if I'll do it in real life, so it would be fun to do it on the show!

SEE MORE: Blue Bloods Cast Members Slay In This Stunning Photo Shoot

Photography by David Needleman. Styled by Christina Pacelli. Originally published in Watch! Magazine, May-June 2019.

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