All fired up

The cast of Chicago Fire tells us how they play with fire with­out get­ting burned.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - En­ter­tain­ment@ thes­tar. com. my

WHEN Chicago Fire premiered in 2012 no one could have guessed that it would spawn two more shows down the line – Chicago PD ( 2014) and Chicago Med ( 2015).

Fast for­ward to 2016 and the three shows in the Chicago fran­chise have pro­duced over 150 episodes and em­ployed 5,000 ac­tors thus far.

What’s more, the uni­verse is set to ex­pand even fur­ther with talk of one more drama join­ing the ranks.

It all started with the men and women – fire­fight­ers, Res­cue Squad and paramedics – of Chicago Fire­house 51.

“We didn’t want to do a fire or case of the week pro­ce­dural show,” says ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Derek Haas.

“We wanted to do an en­sem­ble show with 10 char­ac­ters and you get in their lives. It came out of the fact that when the fire depart­ment goes on a call, they don’t know what they are rolling up to. You get there and you have to re­act.”

By Sea­son Four, the num­ber of cast mem­bers grew to 11. Join­ing the show this sea­son is Steven R. McQueen.

The for­mer Vampire Di­aries star plays Jimmy Borelli, the new can­di­date at the fire­house.

“In the Vampire Di­aries su­per­nat­u­ral world, you have to imag­ine see­ing stuff, whereas on Chicago Fire, you walk in on a stunt day and there’s ac­tu­ally a car on fire. You have to use an axe to get through a door. It’s been nice liv­ing in a world of re­al­ity,” re­veals the 25- year- old ac­tor about work­ing on such dif­fer­ent shows.

McQueen says ev­ery­one on Chicago Fire has been so wel­com­ing and he has been work­ing hard to find where he fits in.

“When I first started, I went to a cou­ple of fire­houses and I asked them what their ex­pe­ri­ence is like go­ing into a fire and they all gave an an­swer that was sur­pris­ingly sim­i­lar,” he ex­plains.

“They all said they saw this group of peo­ple work­ing to­gether to ac­com­plish this goal, al­most like a clock. A bunch of gears mov­ing to­wards one goal.

“As a can­di­date, you have to find your place. You have to be­come a gear and you have to help to ac­com­plish this goal oth­er­wise you are not part of the team. So that’s kind of been my jour­ney as a can­di­date.”

As much as the ac­tors im­merse them­selves in the world of first re­spon­ders, they are un­der no il­lu­sions that it is some­thing they could do in real life.

“You can wear the equip­ment and you can go through the steps but at the end of the day, there is a cer­tain thing that you have in your back­bone to run into a burn­ing build­ing,” ex­plains Joe Mi­noso, who plays fire­fighter Joe Cruz.

“Th­ese men and women do it self­lessly and solely with the in­ten­tion of sav­ing an­other life. Kelly Sev­eride ( played by Tay­lor Kin­ney) may look bet­ter in a fire suit but the guys who are ac­tu­ally do­ing it are the ones you want.”

That said, the cast does a good job of keep­ing to their fit­ness regimes and tak­ing on the stunts. The fires on the show are real, not CGI, but the scenes are done in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment.

“There’s an in­trin­sic el­e­ment of gen­uine con­cern that our crew has so we feel very safe,” says David Ei­gen­berg, who plays sea­soned fire­fighter and fam­ily man Christo­pher Her­mann.

“We have had no ma­jor in­ci­dences but that does not mean it can’t go wrong. Things blow up and we do it ev­ery week.”

Chris­tian Stolte, who plays Randy “Mouch” McHol­land, ap­pre­ci­ates get­ting to act with a real fire as it makes the scene more be­liev­able.

“Though you are aware that you’re rel­a­tively safe, when you are lit­er­ally sur­rounded by fire, not green screen, I think it helps the per­for­mance,” says Stolte.

In any case, fans of the show look for­ward to more than just the ac­tion se­quences, they are in­trigued by the re­la­tion­ships and the pal­pa­ble chem­istry be­tween cer­tain char­ac­ters.

“Peo­ple like the res­cues but they re­ally get into the show be­cause of the char­ac­ters,” re­veals ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Michael Brandt. “On Twit­ter, fans are al­ways ask­ing us who is go­ing to sleep with whom.”

For­tu­nately for the fans, the

too. “At the start, I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to the ac­tion stuff but it quickly wears off,” dis­closes Jesse Spencer, who plays Lieu­tenant Matthew Casey, the fire­fighter dip­ping his toe in the political world by run­ning for al­der­man ( an elected mem­ber of a mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil) in re­cent episodes.

“They are dif­fi­cult days and they are very phys­i­cal, hard to shoot and tech­ni­cal. The first time you hang off a lad­der or do an ex­plo­sion, it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing but it’s not re­ally why you be­come an ac­tor.”

He says he be­came an ac­tor to con­nect with some­body and ex­plore dif­fer­ent lev­els of hu­man­ity.

“At the end of the day, I re­ally like do­ing a scene with Mon­ica ( Ray­mund, who plays his girl­friend, para­medic- turned- fire­fighter Gabriela Daw­son), go­ing through some­thing, ex­plor­ing each other in a sit­u­a­tion,” Spencer adds.

Whether it is the char­ac­ters gen­er­at­ing heat on screen or the blaz­ing fire the squad has to deal with on any given day, au­di­ences are tun­ing in to watch the drama.

Even the real fire­fight­ers have warmed up to the show. “They have grown more sup­port­ive over the sea­sons,” Stolte says.

Over the years, Chicago Fire has proven to be a bona fide hit, pulling in up to 13 mil­lion view­ers in the United States on its best days.

The promis­ing num­bers gave rise to spin- offs Chicago PD and Chicago Med and now a fourth se­ries, Chicago Law, is in de­vel­op­ment. ur d

el ac­tors are game for more re­la­tion­ship drama

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McQueen is the new ad­di­tion to the cast of

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