For 9 seasons, the Reagans from Blue Bloods have invited America to Sunday Dinner and have practically become our family. In Season 3, we met NYPD Detective Maria Baez, the loyal partner to Danny Reagan, who helps solve crimes and keep criminals off the streets. We at PopMalt recently spent some time chatting with Marisa Ramirez, the talented actress who plays Baez. She gave us a great perspective on life, family, and the acclaimed hit series. (By the way, she is the sweetest, kindest person you could ever imagine!)
PopMalt: “When you’re on a new TV show, having the show picked up for a second season is a big deal. Blue Bloods is in its 9th season. So, not only are you on this show that everyone loves, but you’ve been such a memorable character on the show for so long. How does it feel?”
Marisa: “It’s amazing. I was only supposed to do one episode. I’m from L.A., and I was flown out here [to NYC] to do one episode, and I will never forget my driver saying to me, “You’re the new partner.” Like, what are you talking about the “new” partner? I had no idea what Blue Bloods was. I didn’t know there were other partners. He kind of filled me in on the situation, and I was shocked. I never thought there would be a possibility of another episode.”
Upon her arrival, however, the actress immediately hit it off with co-star Donnie Wahlberg. “Donnie and I met and we had an instant chemistry. We just worked so well together, and got along so well [like], ‘You should stay for another episode,’ and then I kept staying…for seven episodes. I was here. It was just crazy how it happened. I expected to go back home!”
I think we can all agree that Baez was one of the best things that ever happened to the show. Marisa opened up about her unexpected journey to New York City. She was starting a whole new life. “I still pinch myself, because I’m so blown away! You know, I think when I’m out there auditioning for pilots and for shows, ‘Oh, this would be a good one.’ ‘Oh, this would be great.’ You know, you always say, ‘I’d love to be on a show that lasts for a while,’ but it happened! Now, I’ve been here for 6 years. It’s insane!”
Marisa definitely paid her dues to get to this point. Growing up in Los Angeles, Ramirez started modeling at the age of 12. After her parents’ divorce, she grew up with her mother, who was always supportive of her entertainment pursuits. She continued modeling throughout high school where she did department store catalogs and commercials.
“I went to an all-girls Catholic high school where you’re only allowed to miss 15 days a semester, and if you miss more than that you have to retake the semester. I remember, my mom and I had it down! I missed 14 1/2 days of each class because I was leaving to go work. I almost didn’t graduate high school, because I was working all the time.”
Marisa did graduate, however, and, in 1997 her modeling career eventually led into acting.
“After high school, I decided to travel [doing] modeling, instead of going to college. I lived in Sydney, Singapore, South Africa, Italy—and then, I started to realize, ‘I can’t be a model. I want to talk! I want to start talking now. All these are people are talking about me in other languages, and I can’t understand what they’re saying—No. This isn’t for me anymore.’”
Over the next 16 years, Marisa found her calling as an actress. “So, I went home, and I got with the theatrical department of my modeling agency, and they started sending me auditions. I got into an acting class, and then I started hosting with MTV, and then, after that I started, you know, acting, getting jobs, and it was awesome. It was kind of like I had been groomed since a little kid, you know—my mom giving me the confidence that I could do something like this. And, it paid off.”
It took Marisa’s father a little while to warm up to the idea of her acting, but over time he became her biggest fan as well. “Haha, you know. It’s hard. He wanted me to go to college and do something with more job security, but he’s so happy now, and proud of me now—he sees it.”
Ramirez has appeared in multiple films, TV shows, and even music videos.
PopMalt: “Speaking of the late 90s…you were in a Backstreet Boys video!”
Marisa: “I was in a lot of videos, yup! I did a Backstreet Boys video.”
PopMalt: “I love how you were in ‘As Long as You Love Me’!”
Marisa: “Yeah! Haha. I also did the Jordan Knight video when he did a solo album, which was so funny, because now here I am all these years later working with Donnie, [and] they were in New Kids on the Block together.”
PopMalt: “That’s so cool! Coming back full circle, almost.”
Marisa: “I know, I make the rounds. Hahaha!”
We also had the opportunity to discuss some of the fun logistics of Blue Bloods. We wanted to see how much Wahlberg and Ramirez are like Reagan and Baez in real life.
PopMalt: “How much are you guys like your characters? Do your personalities spill out into the show, or are they really different?”
Marisa: “Donnie [Wahlberg] is more comedy than Danny is. He’s not too much like his character. He’s very real, and very honest, and very open [like Danny is], but he’s not very—I feel like his character can come across kind of harsh a lot of the time, and that’s not who Donnie is. If he’s ever saying anything kind of “harsh,” he’s gonna finish it with a laugh or something, you know?”
PopMalt: “As far as Baez?”
Marisa: “I think Baez is very different from who I am too. You know, there’s always a weird feeling when you strap on a gun on your hip and a badge on your belt band, and you kind of just take on this different character. “I’m walking around with a gun on my hip, and I’m a cop now.” I really feel like a different character has formed every time I do that. I’m nothing like the character, hahaha. I feel like I never smile on the show! In real life, I feel like I can’t stop smiling!”
PopMalt: “Was there a moment where you felt like you were finally Baez? When was that moment that you felt like, ‘Okay, I know exactly who I’m playing now.’”
Marisa: “I feel like [it was] when we started season 4. I had relocated here, and I was setting up my home base. That first episode of season 4 I had a brother in the episode and my brother was killed, and there was so much for Baez to do. I really felt like, ‘I’m apart of this! I’m apart of this show. This is, this is real.’ Baez is a big character to have been given this kind of storyline as the season premiere of this show, that I just never expected, in the world, that I would be a part of! You know? I think, maybe it was shooting that first episode.”
She elaborates on Baez’s first emotional scene after finding out her brother died, “When he did die, there was this scene where I’m carrying on and crying, because, of course, what do you when you brother dies in front of you? And, Danny comes behind Baez and just grabs her, and is just hugging her. Like, I really felt like that showed a lot of the partner connection. That showed [that] he’s there for her from that moment on too.”
PopMalt: “Wow! So, you kind of just jumped right in.”
Marisa: “Oh yeah! Oh yeah. But that’s what you do as actors!”
PopMalt: “You can do it! You got it!”
Marisa: “Thanks! Hahaha.”
Not only is Blue Bloods known for it’s touching scenes, It’s also known for its intense action sequences. Marisa gave us an exclusive look into what it’s like shooting them and how they challenge her as an actor. “It’s crazy. We have a retired detective who is our tech advisor—who’s also a producer. So, he’s there through everything. We have stunt people who coordinate everything. One of our producers is a former stuntman, so he can see everything differently. Everything is planned out for us. We get there and we’re walked through what we do, and we talk it over, and you rehearse it a few times. If it doesn’t feel right, you have to talk it through with the tech advisor. It’s a lot of work!”
Marisa described one specific scene in the show’s series that really helped her grow as an actor.
Marisa: “I remember we had one [scene] where we were in this old car warehouse, and they wanted to do this looooong shot, and the cameraman was the same camera operator from ‘GoodFellas,’ and there was a super, super long scene with no cuts in [that movie]. They wanted to do a similar scene [on Blue Bloods]. I was nervous about it! If you miss your mark? If your gun doesn’t go off?…You’re gonna screw up the whole shot.”
PopMalt: “That’s a lot of pressure.”
Marisa: “It’s a lot of pressure! But, we nailed it! You know? You run to your mark! You shoot this guy! Then this guy pops up! You shoot that guy! Then, keep running, and then you dive under this thing! Then, you hop up and shoot that guy! Then, run over and cuff this guy! It’s just, it’s insane! But you can’t—I think what I’ve learned from all of it is, you just can’t overthink it all. You have to just go. If you do screw up, it happens. It happens to everyone, and we just take it over.”
“The fact that we are accomplishing all of these different scenarios, these different stunts, and explosions, and the gunfire, and everything that I’ve never really been a part of—It really feels like such an accomplishment when we finish those scenes, and when they’re cut together so beautifully. It’s really cool.”
It’s also great hearing about cast members that actually like being together on set. Ramirez talks about how she and Donnie Wahlberg regularly laugh to the point of crying all the time. “It’s really amazing how many days—how many hours we’ve spent laughing. You know, you don’t get to do that at work a lot with people. You know, a lot of people don’t get to work with people that they really enjoy being around. So, we’re just so lucky that we get to go to work and laugh, and have a good time, and still make a TV show that people like.”
If there’s one thing that we appreciated during our conversation with Marisa, it’s the fact that she’s so humble about what she does. She’s not pretentious. She’s not presumptuous. She’s just grateful.
“From year to year, I don’t like to look at anything as a guarantee, because you never know what can happen. I feel like I’ve always taught myself, kind of, in the industry you have to set yourself up for disappointment because there’s a lot of it in this industry! So, every year when I do get the official pickup letter I’m like, ‘Yes! I get another year! I get another year.’ I’ve said that now for 5 years, so—haha. It’s just amazing.”
The unassuming actress also gave some great perspective on the normalcy that she goes through. She’s just like the rest of us. She helped pop the bubble that so many of us have acquired of Hollywood at one point or another; this idea that celebrities somehow magically float through the ether whilst being unscathed by the cares of life that the rest of us have to go through.
“I look at it as ‘this is my job’. This is a job,” she said. “And, I don’t know what’s gonna happen after this, but I just have to keep going and hope there’s [another] job that I get. I don’t put too much pressure on it that I’m ‘playing this character on this TV show.’ It’s my job. If I’m talking to somebody at the grocery store and they say, ‘What do you for a living?’—‘Oh, I act. Yeah, I have this job on this show.’ You know? It’s a job just like anybody else has a job. My job is just a little fancy at times, but it’s a job. Haha.”
It gets better.
“I think a lot of actors like to say, ‘I’d really love to play this character on this show’ or ‘I’d really love to do a show like this…’ Yeah, it would all be great, but I just want to work! I just want to continue to work, and pay my bills, and be able to raise my daughter, and not have to worry about getting food on the table. You know? Haha, I’m really good about saving my money, because you never know! So, I just want to work. I’m not gonna be picky about it.”
Hearing of all that makes us love Baez even more! She also loves to kickbox, her favorite food is Indian, and she loves spending time with her beautiful daughter Violet Rae. Best wishes to the starlet in her endeavors!
Catch Marisa on ‘Blue Bloods’ Fridays at 10/9c on CBS!