Gregory Jbara Is Feeling Blue
The Tony Award winner discusses his return to CBS' hit drama series, Blue Bloods.
THEATERMANIA: Your character is a DCPI -- Deputy Commissioner for Public Information. For what exactly is a DCPI responsible?
Gregory Jbara: He's basically the press rep for the commissioner's office. I had a tour of the actual DCPI office and learned that they really do manage all of the information about the New York Police Department that goes to the public. The thing that is great about this part is I typically get hired to play working class, simple, not necessarily thinking men or educated men. But with Moore, he started as a journalist, and he's someone who's very handy with the public.
TM: Tom Selleck hand-picked you for this part. Why?
GJ: He and I had met doing the movie In and Out. Back then, he goes, "I really think you're talented, I do produce a lot of television, and I'm really going to try and hire you every chance I get." It's nice just to have someone like Tom Selleck say that to you, but if every person in a position of power who has said that to me actually came through, I would never be unemployed! But, in fact, this is the third TV job that he has actually given me since we worked together.
TM: Your character and Selleck's character, Frank, have a long history together as well, don't they?
GJ: They have been friends for over 10 years. Moore is one of the few people, other than some of Frank's immediate family, who is very honest with him and challenges him on a regular basis. What's nice about the writing is they have a very sort of unspoken communication that is becoming really well-realized as episodes progress. Moore is ultimately around to help. When the commissioner needs a person to tell him the things he doesn't want to hear, that's what my character does, and it's great. There's a little humor too, especially in the way that we bust each other's chops.
TM: What is it like to work opposite Tom?
GJ: He's an amazingly handsome presence. He's really business-like on the set, although he has a great sense of humor. He invests a lot of time and energy when shooting to make sure the script is just right, and that things are being done in the way that he thinks best serves the relationship that my character and his have together. He always makes the effort to let everybody know that he's still got a sense of humor.
TM: One of the major themes in Blue Bloods is tradition within the family business. Do your two sons want to follow in your footsteps?
GJ: They're very proud of what I do. The oldest, Zachary, very actively pursues music. He and Aidan take lessons in drums and guitar. But I think right now they're looking forward to just being kids. My wife and I are certainly not pushing them to go on auditions because in reality it means we have to take them around. I'm grateful that right now they're just enjoying having a very normal, suburban life.
GJ: Just to believe my first agent, Brian Riordan, who took me on at the age of 25. He said, "We're going to be able to get you work, and we'll be able to help you feed yourself now at the age of 25, but in terms of the kind of character that you are and the characters you'll be playing, you're really not going to hit your stride until you're in your 40s." And I believed him. He was one hundred percent on the money, and I'm grateful that he imparted that advice on me because it gave me a realistic expectation of what's going to be happening in my career. And it has only improved with the grayer I get. I'm thrilled that I'm able to live up to his expectations.