Think Abigail Hawk and you probably think Abigail Baker, gatekeeper to Tom Selleck's NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan on "Blue Bloods" (the 13th season begins Oct. 7). But she is also: mother of two boys; an actor of stage and indie movies; musical theater buff and cabaret performer; and poet and aspiring novelist. Hawk, 40, also lives deep in the heart of Nassau County, which makes her an LIer — a proud one, she declaims.
On Oct. 6, she'll wrap a three-week run in the play, "Jasper," at Pershing Square Signature Center next to Grand Central, co-starring with Jessica Pimentel and Dominic Fumusa. "Jasper" (written by Grant McDermott and directed by Katie McHugh) is about a couple trying to save their marriage and desperately ill child, when a third person (Hawk's character) complicates matters further.
She spoke recently with Newsday's Verne Gay.
You're something of a polymathic — stage, screen, and even singing? What aren't you proficient at?
Not good at dancing — I look like a Muppet when I dance — but I've been singing since I could talk. It is my first love and I grew up singing all the Broadway soundtracks. But I also have a stereotypical ingénue look, and I'm tall [5' 8"]. The first time I saw [Tony Award-winner] Sutton Foster, I thought, 'ah, there is a place for tall women onstage,' but it's been hard for me to reconcile all that.
You've done a lot of small-budget indie films over the years — why?
They have heart and creativity and that shoestring budget and being able to be involved in that creative process is so much of a draw to me. And yes, I've just completed one called "Daruma," which is in postproduction now. We're trying to get ready for Sundance.
You grew up in Georgia. What brought you here?
After graduating University of Maryland on a theater scholarship, I moved straight to New York, where I did survival retail jobs and auditioned during lunch breaks, and then did underground theater that was about as off-Broadway as you could get. Then, after seven years, I got booked on what was meant to be a one-off role on "Blue Bloods." Tom Selleck liked the idea of having a woman as his character's right-hand — who is young, earnest and strong — and he kept bringing me back. Thirteen years later, it's almost unbelievable. He changed my life.
So Baker's husband is Brian and your husband is too?
Yes, but "Bryan" with a "y." He was a lieutenant and paramedic with the FDNY but now he's getting his degree in nursing. He's going to become a delivery nurse — he's extremely calm under pressure and a big dude and very very strong. I think he'll be a source of comfort and stability for couples who are delivering their first child. I'm very proud of him.
Baker almost seems like a mother figure — and sometimes Mother Superior figure — to Frank Reagan. How do you see her?
Tom would describe her as being "Radar" from "M*A*S*H." She has her finger on the pulse of everything and you can't get to the commissioner unless you go through her first. She knows everything but is discreet and pulls no punches. She's also the smartest person in the room — except for Frank.
Have you ever sought to expand the role?
She will be doing something with Steve Schirripa's character [DA investigator Anthony Abetemarco] in the 13th season — I have to leave it at that — but there are 16 of us in recurring and regular roles. That's a lot to get into a 45-minute time frame. I'm just grateful for the part I have.
What's it like working with Magnum P. I.?
Oh gosh, I've never met anyone as charming. When he shines his headlight on you, it is the greatest feeling. I'm also very active on social media and he is not, so he'll often be the first one to reach out to me after an episode to see how the masses are taking it in. But I could sing his praises endlessly.
You identify as a Long Islander — a little unusual for New York actors who typically describe themselves as "New York-based" Why?
No shame in being a proud Long Islander! The first house we purchased is here and that is a source of pride for me and so is the public school my kids are in, where they are in a dual-language program. I'm super-excited that they will not only be biliterate in Spanish and English, but that it will open their minds to diversity and inclusion. There is so much here, and I have many filmmaker friends who are from Long Island, too, including Debbie Markowitz, the LI film commissioner for years.
What's next after "Jasper" ends?
I'll hole up for a little while and spend time with my kids. It has been painful being away from them — much harder than I thought it would be — so I'll take a couple of months. But anything can change. I'm like a barracuda when something shiny comes by, although I did get offered something recently that was shooting in Bulgaria, and I said 'I'm good!' Not right now. I'm also working on a first novel, and I always mention it because it gives me accountability. The more I mention it, the more I have to do it!