Havre de Grace native and New York University senior Ben Getz has been acting in various productions since he was a child, but he recently got a major break in his career when he shared two scenes with veteran Emmy-winning television actor Tom Selleck for an episode of the CBS police drama "Blue Bloods."
Getz, 21, played a youth named Reynaldo who tries to solicit donations for a New York Police Department charity from Selleck's character, NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan. The series is in its fifth season, and the episode, titled "Occupational Hazards," aired last Friday.
Getz auditioned for the role in late January and the episode was shot in early February.
"The police commissioner, he's very wary of the cause," Getz said. "It's an NYPD cause, and he's never heard of it."
Selleck's character spends his portion of the episode tailing Reynaldo and investigating whether the charity is legitimate.
Getz said he had two scenes with Selleck, a veteran film and stage actor who is known for the 1980s TV series "Magnum P.I." and the "Jesse Stone" television movies.
Getz said he and Selleck discussed whether he should play Reynaldo as someone who knows the charity is a scam, or if he believes the charity is real, and they agreed the character should think the cause is real, "because then the audience is brought on this roller coaster of thinking it's real."
Getz also noted Selleck "controlled the set," including the camera angles and dialogue, during shooting.
"He took a big interest in the episode's [story] arc," Getz recalled. "He was very protective of it."
Getz described Selleck as "very hands on and very kind and willing to work with a young actor, and it was really nice."
He said he did not get to meet some of the other leads actors in the series, such as Donnie Wahlberg or Bridget Moynahan, but he spent a lot of time with actress – and Columbia University student – Sami Gayle, who plays Commissioner Reagan's granddaughter.
"She was a lot of fun to work with, and we ended up spending the whole day chatting," Getz recalled.
He said Gayle has been acting since she was a child, and "it was very interesting how she juggles school and her job on the show."
Getz auditioned for the show's casting director in January. He was scheduled to audition again for the producers, but the session was cancelled because of a snowstorm. He learned that the producers would make their decision based on videos of the auditions for the casting directors, and he did not expect to hear anything after that.
"I really didn't think I had a chance, because I was not super established here in the city," he said.
As he was walking into a 9:30 a.m. class, however, he got a call from his agent, who told him he got the role on "Blue Bloods."
"I went right into class and had to sit on the information for an hour, and then call my mom when I got out," he recalled.
Getz is the son of retired podiatrist Dr. Elaine Hirsch and architect Gary Getz, of Havre de Grace. He is a 2011 graduate of Havre de Grace High School.
His younger sister, Leah, 14, has also gotten into acting.
Leah will be playing the lead role of Gabriella Montez in Havre de Grace Middle School's spring production of "High School Musical," according to Hirsch.
"They're constantly keeping me entertained," Hirsch said of her children.
She said her son "has always been really outgoing, even as a little kid."
"This is just his thing," she said of acting. "It's his passion; it never stopped."
Getz got his first taste of the stage as a child, when his mother brought him to dance classes.
"I wasn't a great dancer, but I loved the stage," he said.
Getz has performed in productions in middle school, high school and college, as well as community theater productions with organizations such as the Tidewater Players in Havre de Grace, and he is studying theater at NYU.
He has also been in a few short films and commercials, and he has the lead role in an upcoming independent horror film, "Uncaged."
He said the "Uncaged" producers have sold the film in Taiwan, and they plan to bring it to the famed Cannes Film Festival in France to sell it to a distributor.
"Hopefully, it gets U.S. distribution," Getz said.
He is scheduled to graduate from college in May. He plans to stay in New York City and work on becoming a full-time actor, and potentially move on to Los Angeles.
"That would be the dream," he said. "I'm going to stay in the city for a couple years, at least, and see what happens."