On a show as family oriented as "Blue Bloods," it's easy to get attached to characters, whether they are series stars or there in supporting roles — and that was very true for Detective Jackie Curatola, played by TV veteran Jennifer Esposito. As the partner of series regular Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), Detective Curatola wasn't the center of the action, but she was a strong character who added a lot of texture to the world of the show.
That all changed after the third season when Detective Curatola was given early retirement after exhibiting signs of burnout. While her departure from the police force was a realistic outcome given the nature of the job, for a TV detective show, the whole situation felt off.
Fans who found Esposito's exit suspicious had their fears confirmed when details of exactly why the actress left the show were revealed. As it turns out, Detective Curatola's early retirement wasn't exactly an amicable split between Esposito and the producers of "Blue Bloods."
According to Esposito's post-firing account of why she was written off the show, things began to go awry after she experienced medical issues on the set of the show. Esposito suffers from Celiac disease and has been a longtime advocate for people with the illness, which can cause extreme fatigue and gastrointestinal issues. In a series of tweets about her firing, she said that her doctor had recommended that she be put on a reduced work schedule due to her chronic disease.
She went on to say that the way the situation was handled was "shameful" and that being booted from the show broke her heart.
Esposito's account of her character's early retirement ran contrary to the producer's explanation. In a terse statement that didn't include information relating to her health issues they declared, "Jennifer has informed us that she is only available to work on a very limited part-time schedule. As a result... we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence" (via Deadline).
Her statement implied that she was written off the show without any attempt from the producers at working with her to remedy the scheduling conflicts her health issues had caused. The actress went on to reveal that after being written off the show she remained under contract, but officially on unpaid leave, which meant that she was neither making income from Blue Bloods nor able to secure another acting role until the contract was up.
Despite her rocky exit from the show, it wasn't all bad blood between Esposito and Blue Bloods. Several years after her stint on the show, she expressed reverence for her onscreen partner and co-star, Donnie Wahlberg. "[O]ne of the best people I've worked with...We had so much fun," she told People in a video interview about her time on the show.
Wahlberg (whose character just can't catch a break — Danny's wife was killed on Blue Bloods, as well) returned his former co-star's sentiments in a tweeted reply to the video. "Seriously, it was not only fun working with [Esposito], but it was an honor to work with her. One of the very best actors/actresses alive today... Not to mention — an inspiring activist, advocate & baker!"
After 11 years of pursuing other acting projects, Jennifer Esposito will return to the role many know her from as she'll reprise the character of Detective Jackie Curatola on the "Blue Bloods" Season 13 finale. It appears as though whatever bad blood may have been between Esposito and the "Blue Bloods" team is water under the bridge (at least partially), as she'll return as the Chief of Police to team up with Danny and Baez (Marisa Ramirez) to investigate a murder potentially linked to serial killer Dr. Leonard Walker (Mather Zickel).
Could there be more Esposito in "Blue Bloods" in the future? That remains to be seen, but fans can see Esposito's triumphant return when her episode airs May 19.