If anything can propel a supporting player to a series' forefront, it's to give the character a problematic relative.
Thus, Marisa Ramirez -- alias Detective Danny Reagan's ( Donnie Wahlberg) NYPD partner Maria Baez on CBS' "Blue Bloods" -- gets considerable screen time in Friday's (Nov. 22) episode "Bad Blood." Kirk Acevedo ("Oz," "Fringe") guest stars as Baez's estranged brother "Tic-Tac," an ex-drug addict who's the prime suspect in a murder she and Danny probe.
"You finally get to learn a little bit of the backstory of Maria," Ramirez tells Zap2it, "at least between her and her brother. You also find out why she became a cop ... it had to do with him.
"Danny is still trying to support his partner, and when you have family involved in real life, you would be taken off the case. Because they're so close as partners, though, he wants her to be there for whatever she can do for her brother."
Happy to get Acevedo as her "sibling," Ramirez was even more pleased to find he and Wahlberg "had worked together before, on 'Band of Brothers.' They already had that camaraderie, and they were almost like two little schoolboys. It was just fun to watch them have a good time together."
Acevedo may be in for more than one "Blue Bloods" appearance, since Ramirez confirms "it is left open-ended, so it's all on people's reactions. He's amazing, though. He has such a body of work, we knew he was just going to bring it, and he did. I have a feeling he'll be back, but we haven't heard anything yet."
Featured previously on "Body of Proof," "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" and "General Hospital," Ramirez maintains she "didn't even know" at first that Maria was the latest and -- at least for now -- last of several partners for Danny after Jennifer Esposito's Detective Jackie Curatola left. Megan Boone, now of NBC's "The Blacklist," was Ramirez's immediate "Blue Bloods" predecessor.
"I didn't watch the show, so I honestly knew nothing about the history of the partners," Ramirez says. "I think it was a driver who first said to me, 'So you're the new partner.' I said, 'I'm just somebody to help for this episode,' and he said, 'Well, we'll see. I think you might be sticking around.'
"I kind of panicked, because it was also the start of pilot season. I called my managers and my agents and said, 'Do you know that this possibly might be recurring?' And they said, 'No. We had no idea.' Then I kept being offered to stay for another episode and another episode, and now I'm a series regular."
Ramirez says that result "still kind of blows me away, just the fact that I was offered one episode in February and now here I am, having relocated and started a new life on the East Coast. It's crazy, but it's such a blessing. And to be able to find different pieces of my character and have them start to develop, it's a lot of fun."
While New Kids on the Block veteran Wahlberg is her main perforning partner now, Ramirez appeared with the Backstreet Boys in their "As Long As You Love Me" music video. "He's got that tough-boy attitude goin' on," she says of Wahlberg, "and that bravery that I think is very much his personality. Chemistry helps a lot; it just helps our work together. it flows that much easier."
Photo/Video credit: CBS