Never underestimate a woman with the world at her fingertips. Tucked inside a sprawling seventh-floor hotel suite at Mandarin Oriental, Paris, Bridget Moynahan is handily taking care of business without sacrificing an ounce of style. The actress, decked out in a vintage white John Galliano column that fits like a glove, is the very picture of a strong, modern woman as she perches atop a desk, phone in one hand, globe in the other.
It’s one of several striking images being created for Watch!, and the shoot’s theme of an independent woman who’s elevated multitasking to an art form resonates with Moynahan. She’s not only the female lead of CBS’s hit drama Blue Bloods but also a single mother to 4-year-old son Jack, a spokeswoman for Garnier skin care products and a committed philanthropist. (She works with Jumpstart, an early-education organization for kids from low-income families, and The Hole in the Wall Gang, a program for children with serious illnesses, founded by actor Paul Newman.)
While Moynahan makes managing her multitude of commitments look effortless, that’s not always the case, as she admits over roast chicken and truffle fries at the hotel’s chic eatery, Camelia, the day after the photo shoot. “I’m juggling too much right now!” she insists. “But I don’t think I’m unique in feeling that. Women in general these days are juggling so much between family and career and trying to be conscious of the environment that they live in.”
It’s a reality Blue’s Erin Reagan-Boyle also faces, and Moynahan welcomed the opportunity to filter her own experience through the character, a feisty New York prosecutor and dedicated mom. “There’s a lot I relate to in her,” she says, “which is part of the reason I was attracted to the role. Her life is complicated and diverse.”
PARIS? JE T’AIME!
How Moynahan came to her current role as actor and mother is a less complicated story of local girl makes global good.
Long before she had a role keeping bad guys off the streets of New York, Moynahan was a young model pounding the pavement in Paris. On her own with an apartment in the City of Light, the Longmeadow, Mass., native spent her days on go-sees and worked to polish the French she’d studied in high school—all the while marveling at the unexpected turn her life had taken. “I thought I was going to be a dentist!” she says with a laugh.
Instead, the 5-foot-10-inch brunette blessed with chiseled cheekbones quickly catapulted to the top of the competitive modeling world, landing on the covers of Glamour and Elle and in the pages of Vogue. Over the years, work often brought her back to the European fashion capital she’d once called home, and she eagerly returned to Paris for Watch!. The eight-plus-hour photo shoot in vintage French couture brings back memories of the actress’s former career, which she reveals with a characteristically dry sense of humor: “Ah, yes, the sore feet. The uncomfortable positions. The panic when a zipper won’t go up!”
Getting the perfect shot may not always be glamorous, but during the shoot Moynahan proves she still possesses model dedication to the task. In an Yves Saint Laurent caftan and skirt and bare feet, she gamely steps into the hotel’s black marble fountain, which runs the length of the courtyard garden, and works it like a runway. (“The water’s cold but it’s clean!” she says, enthusiastically.) As raindrops begin to dot the Place Vendôme and curious tourists gather to look on, she leaps tirelessly through the air in a scarlet Galliano and Manolo Blahnik stilettos, hitting her mark for the photographer every time. And when, in the final setup of the day, the Parisian wind begins to toy with her black gown, she relies on a trick she learned long ago from a stylist. “Quick! Who’s got a coin?” she calls out to the assembled crew, before dropping a euro into the fold of the dress to weigh it down and keep it in place.
You can take the girl out of modeling, but you can never really take the model out of the girl.
GROUNDED IN SUCCESS
Moynahan could’ve coasted on her looks, but in her late 20s she decided to switch careers. She enrolled in acting class, where she studied for three years before going on any auditions. “I wanted to feel confident,” she explains. “There’s a very short list of casting directors, so you’d better make an impression—and it had better be a positive one. Otherwise, you might make the list of ‘I don’t need to see them again.’”
Ultimately, the opposite turned out to be true: In 1999, she was cast for what was originally conceived as a bit part on Sex and the City, but she so impressed executive producers Michael Patrick King and Darren Star that the role of Natasha was expanded and became, for a time, Mr. Big’s wife. Moynahan still seems bewildered by the fact that Carrie Bradshaw’s romantic rival proved to be her breakout role. Natasha “didn’t say a lot—she was practically mute!” she says. “But I guess she had a big presence.”
The actress confesses that she found being a part of the HBO phenomenon scary. “I had no concept of what I was walking into,” says Moynahan, who’d never watched the seminal series before she was cast. “It’s nerve-racking to go onto a show that’s already in motion and has its rhythm. You have to jump on the hamster wheel, keep pace and make it work.”
Even now, 13 years into a career that has included making films with such Hollywood heavyweights as Al Pacino and Morgan Freeman, Moynahan doesn’t dare take her success for granted. Just listen to how she responded when an actress friend recently landed her first big-paying job and asked Moynahan for advice on what she should buy to celebrate. “I was like, ‘You shouldn’t buy anything! Put the money in the bank or invest it so that you have it when you really need it.’ In this job, there are times when you don’t have opportunities. You never know what will happen, so it’s smart to put your money away.”
Still, even the most practical of girls can be tempted—especially when she finds herself in Paris. This superwoman is decidedly human in that way. Which is why, mere moments after wrapping the Watch! Shoot, Moynahan rushed over to Colette, a favorite boutique on Rue Saint-Honore, to sneak in a little shopping before it closed. “It was,” she admits, “amazing”. A little damage to the wallet was most definitely done.
STRONG AND SECURE
Growing up with two brothers, Kathryn Bridget Moynahan—then known as Kat—was a tomboy who played varsity soccer and basketball and helped lead her high school lacrosse team to state championship. It seems fitting, then, that she’s found her greatest big-screen success playing tough, capable heroines in big-budget action films, including I, ROBOT, The Sum of All Fears and, most recently, Battle: Los Angeles, in which she faced down an alien invasion. “I like those kinds of roles,” she says. What she’s not so crazy about is “when a woman in an action film who’s trying to kick butt obviously doesn’t know how. It’s like, ‘You need more training!’”
Moynahan, who maintains her toned physique through tennis, golf and running, spent her most recent Blue Bloods hiatus shooting the independent film Small Time with Christopher Meloni. But if she has her way, she’ll be back in action before long: “I’m just really happy in that genre”.
For this busy mom, who’s currently dating film director McG, part of the attraction of Blue Bloods was the security that comes with a hit series. “It’s nice to stay in one place and have your kid in school and have a life,” says Moynahan, who relocated from Los Angeles to New York to film the family drama.
It didn’t hurt that the gig would also provide an opportunity to reunite with good bud Donnie Wahlberg, with whom she’s previously worked on cable pilot in 2008. It was Wahlberg—who plays Danny Reagan, Erin’s hotheaded cop brother—who suggested Moynahan to producers in the first place. “Knowing that I was often going to be going toe to toe with the character, I wanted the actress to be someone that really cared about the work and wasn’t gonna be worried about ego,” he says. “That’s Bridget”.
Tom Selleck, who plays family patriarch and police commissioner Frank Reagan, also clearly has a soft spot for his TV daughter. “Apart from being beautiful, she’s got chops,” Selleck says admiringly. “Usually you get one or the other, but she’s just a really rare combination. I love working with her”.
The feeling’s mutual. “It’s a pleasure going to work,” Moynahan says. “These people become your family. You share so many experiences with them. I can’t imagine there’s an actor on the show that isn’t thankful to be a part of this particular project.”
Gratitude is an emotion the actress is feeling a lot of these days. As she says before returning to her hotel room to pack before hopping a flight back to the States, “I’m in a really good place. Life is very rich in terms of health, family and career. It’s a good balance of all the good things.”
— Shawna Malcom
Originally published in Watch! magazine, February 2013