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How A Real-Life EMT Wound Up Playing A Background Character On Blue Bloods

"The Fast and the Furious" doesn't have a monopoly on the concept of family. For the long-running CBS police procedural "Blue Bloods," family is what the show is all about.

The drama follows the ins and outs of a family of officers and detectives in the New York City Police Department, headed up by Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), the NYPD commissioner. Frank gets advice from his father, former commissioner Henry Reagan (played by Broadway legend Len Cariou) while giving advice to his youngest son, Jamie (Will Estes), who decided to become a cop after graduating from law school. Frank's son Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a NYPD detective with sometimes questionable tactics, and daughter Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is the assistant district attorney. Almost every episode has a scene where the family comes together around the dinner table to discuss current issues.

Not one to shy away from hot-button topics, the series considers ethical issues surrounding police and law enforcement — which, like "Law & Order," sometimes results in criticism. With the approved Season 13 premiere right around the corner, on October 7, here's how one actor on "Blue Bloods" ended up rising through the ranks on the show.

Adrian Matilla went from extra to speaking part

Hollywood is indebted to its unsung heroes: the thousands of extras who populate movies and television series to make them look more realistic — especially with a complicated show like "Blue Bloods." Sometimes being an extra can be a breakthrough point for a budding young actor.

Such is the case for Adrian Matilla, a New Jersey native and former EMT for Jersey City Medical Center, who now has over 30 acting credits on IMDb. Matilla was an extra and background player in many episodes in the first few seasons of "Blue Bloods," including its pilot, according to NJ.com. He eventually parlayed that experience into a speaking role as a low-level drug dealer, and became very comfortable working with cast members Donnie Wahlberg and Marisa Ramirez. "I had been in parts with them so many times before that it felt so flawless to work [with them]," Matilla said. "It was like being home again." 

Matilla's other acting experiences include playing lots of cops in shows like HBO's "The Leftovers," "Law & Order: SVU," and "Chicago PD," a bodyguard in "The Mysteries of Laura," and an uncredited role on the Ava DuVernay Netflix series "When They See Us," per his Instagram. He also did stunts in Marvel's "Luke Cage" and "Daredevil." "Playing these roles gives me a good sign I'm going in the right direction," Matilla said.