I got a chance to speak with Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, and Danielle Gelber about their new show on NBC, Chicago Fire. Jesse plays Lt. Matthew Casey and Taylor plays Lt. Kelly Severide. Danielle is an executive producer. I watched the first three episodes and I can honestly tell you that this show is worth checking out. I loved it. You instantly feel for the characters and they are intriguing enough to keep you coming back for more. As a huge House fan, I’m thrilled to have Jesse Spencer back on a weekly television series. Chicago Fire gives an edge-of-your-seat view into the lives of the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Fire House 51 and is set to premiere on NBC on Wednesday, October 10 at 10:00 pm Eastern.
Lena Lamoray: Can you talk about working together and with the rest of the cast?
Taylor Kinney: I think we got – we got really lucky. I know there’s, you know, coming into a, you know, a show that we’re all out of town, we’re all way from our perspective homes and to show up to work together and to enjoy each other’s company and then, you know, on the weekends whether it’s football games or poker or going out to eat, you know, everybody gets along, you know, for the most part. Nobody’s stabbing anybody yet. But I think it comes – I think it comes across on camera as well. You know, everybody trusts each other’s, you know, instrument and what they bring. And we all, you know, we all talk shop collectively outside of work too. It’s, you know, it’s a labor of passion. And everybody’s really proud of this project and we’re all doing as much as we can to, you know, delve – whether it’s delve deeper into character or storylines or Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, our executive producers, who wrote the show or, you know, they spend a lot of time here. And, you know, they’ve been really great about bouncing ideas off of if we have a character suggestion or if they see, you know, they see an interaction between two characters and someone throws an ad lib and you discover something in the moment in the scene, you know, you can go with that. So I think that, you know, getting the chances to have your ideas heard and everyone, for the most part, you know, getting along as well as we do it’s just an added dimension to the show that brings more color and hopefully gets, you know, gets people excited.
Jesse Spencer: Oh yeah, it’s – it’s great. Listen, I’d heard horror stories about other shows when I was on House. That was a – we had a great cast on that and everyone was in the same boat and we didn’t have any, you know, egos running around and we’re all looking to do the best job that we possibly could with the characters and the scripts that we were given. And I think I’ve landed on a really, really great show where we don’t, you know, it’s the same thing. We have a bunch of really talented people who are looking to make a good job. And that’s it. And I think we can, on top of that, also really sort of I think thank being on location in Chicago and having us really band together as actors and get excited about what we’re doing here and get excited about, you know, playing firefighters and meeting these guys and hearing their stories and that’s really brought us all together. And everyone’s taken that on board really, really well. And I think we’re applying it to our job in the best way that we can.
Danielle Gelber: That sense of camaraderie really infuses the storytelling as well. I mean, it just comes through so strongly. And it’s tough to get that alchemy all the time with a big ensemble but we really think we’ve struck gold with this group.
More Conference Call Interview Highlights:
Q: Did either of you added anything to your character that wasn’t originally in the script?
Taylor Kinney: Jesse? Oh I would say coming in…because we started with a single script and the pilot we did ride-alongs with firefighters and the girls – some of the actresses got to ride with the paramedics. So it enabled us to evolve with the character. So you have – you come in with set ideas I think in any job and it evolves as you move. So not to have something set in stone so I would say, you know, there’s so many aspects to it. But you keep your eyes open, you spend time with fighters, paramedics, and you pick things up that you otherwise wouldn’t. And you’re able to bring that to the table to your character to make it that much more authentic.
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, I think, yeah, I think overall the, you know, since we did the pilot I feel like the writers have really started – you know, when they write it, you know, they’re writing with, you know, these characters they have in their imagination. Since we’ve all joined the show they’ve really started writing for us. And, yeah, and helped our characters to evolve, you know, in the way that suits us and suits the characters both.
Q: Are either of you planning to celebrate the premiere any way special or with anyone special?
Taylor Kinney: My brother is coming so he’ll have to suffice for a date. We’re doing – we’re having a premiere for the cast, some crew members, some firefighters and people throughout the city tomorrow evening. And I think that’ll be – working around our schedule now it’s going to be a big event so I know that the rest of the cast, you know, myself and a few producers are flying in and that should be a really special night and everyone’s looking forward to that.
Jesse Spencer: Yes, my girlfriend is going to be there. I think there’s going to be – I’ve heard the place holds 400 and there’s going to be 150 firefighters plus their guests…so it’s going to be 3/4 full of firefighters and firefighter partners.
Danielle Gelber: I think sort of the continual message of the show is that we’re really doing this obviously for audiences for also to really keep in mind the firefighters and the real people who are the heroes in our country. And so we always want to try and take an opportunity to honor them and single them out so this premiere is really sort of centered on them.
Q: How was it filming in Chicago. Were you treated well?
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, it’s – I don’t think we could have asked for a better reception. Chicago is – I mean, I’ve never lived here; this is my first time living here but I love this city. And I think it’s the perfect setting for our show. It feels like the people in the city are really supportive of the show. And, I mean, it just adds so much because, you know, the fire is another character in the show and Chicago is a whole another character in the show, you know, the look and the feel of it and the, you know, the different areas that we’re shooting in. And, you know, we’re shooting in more, you know, dangerous sort of like hood areas and we’re shooting in upper class areas. And we’re shooting downtown. And it’s sort of, you know, I think throughout the season we’re going to give a really good, you know, taste of tons of different, you know, different areas and a good feel for what Chicago is like. And, you know, with the history of Chicago and fire as well it really plays into the show as well. And I think it’s the perfect backdrop for us, absolutely.
Danielle Gelber: Mayor Emanuel and the State of Illinois were incredibly welcoming right from the start during the pilot and that’s only increased during the production of the show. And it’s – Chicago is such a visually singular city that we just feel really lucky to be able to sort of bring that into people’s living rooms every week. And, you know, that’s very special for us.
Q: Lady Gaga has been in town a lot of visiting. Has she expressed any interest in being on the show?
Taylor Kinney: I really couldn’t tell you anything about that.
Q: Were there different titles thrown around because Chicago Fire is the name of the soccer team?
Taylor Kinney: You’ll have people – because if you mention the show or even with firefighters when we were starting out and now it’s getting a little bit more traction so people are – people know and will hear of it and they’ll say, you know, oh the show but if you said we’re working on Chicago Fire they ask you if you’re a soccer player. Like people in the city…
Jesse Spencer: …at some point.
Taylor Kinney: Yeah, we need to do something. But, no for the most part – for the most part it’s been, you know, like Jesse was saying, the city has been really receptive, the people, the firefighters have been really open and helpful about advising and, you know, we’ve been, you know, working and doing simulation fire stunts and – at the academy. It’s been really welcoming.
Q: Can you talk about your personal Chicago experience and where you’ve been hanging out, what you’ve seen, have any favorite places yet, stuff like that?
Taylor Kinney: I have yet to go to a Bears game but I know Jesse went and a few of the other cast members went and I’d love to do that. We’ve been two Cubs games. Jesse played the national anthem and I got to throw out an opening pitch which was, you know, a dream come true as a kid and a baseball fan. But other than that it’s, you know, we’ve been pretty busy but I think the biggest history lesson within the city is during work because we shoot so many locations. So, you know, we’re getting to see, you know, places that we otherwise wouldn’t on the South Side, you know, all over the loop, downtown, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park. So you go to these areas and people – the people and the public have been open about, you know, us shooting and maybe causing a bit of a commotion. And then it’s, you know, hey, you guys find yourself in town there’s a great restaurant here or there’s a great bar here, there’s things to do here. It’s just getting to know the city through work.
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, I feel like you could spend years here and still find stuff. It feels like the kind of place that there’s so much stuff. And local knowledge is really good too, you know. So I think we’ve, you know, we’ve only barely scratched the surface with all that sort of stuff. But, I mean, it’s got such a – it’s got so many different types of entertainment too, you know, the museums are great, you know, Navy pier, even the touristy stuff is, you know, really nice areas. And Chicago overall just has a really nice feel. But, I mean, we’ve hit a few steakhouses and a few restaurants and as Taylor said. I mean, we’re mostly working. We know Englewood probably better that we know downtown Chicago.
Q: For your characters you do a lot of the firefighter work and the show focuses a lot on the firefighting but I wondered if you could talk about the subplots a bit, which I think are pretty interesting coming up in the second and third episodes, Severide’s arm and Casey’s run-in with that sort of bad cop guy I guess? If you could talk about those subplots a bit and maybe do you prefer one storyline over the other or is it all good?
Jesse Spencer: Well I think they – no, I mean, here’s the thing, you know, this is an ensemble show and these story lines for the individual characters, I think, are all very important. And they – and, I mean, throughout the show we’ll see, you know, these stories, you know, evolve into other stories and they intermingle and interact and stuff. But, I mean, for Casey this is sort of a – his ultimate – his whole livelihood is being threatened by this guy. He’s, by chance, run into a situation where this guy’s son has – in a drunk driving accident has caused this kid in the other car to be paralyzed. And so, you know, being quite a, you know, he’s quite a morale guy and an upstanding sort of citizen. But, you know, he can understand – he can – he doesn’t have to go that way, you know, if things get difficult. But he sort of gets forced into the situation and doesn’t really have a choice. And then it becomes a matter of principle because this cop is – starts throwing his weight around. And it builds and builds to the point where we see Casey for the first time, I think, really threatened and really having to fight back to basically protect a loved one so it becomes really primal. And we’ll see him kind of – we’ll see him lose his shit, which is kind of really exciting.
Danielle Gelber: And the show was really designed from the ground up as a character procedural so everybody’s character is going to be delved into deeper and deeper over the life of the show. And the longer we live with these characters – Derek and Michael who created it – are just mining more and more ways along with Matt Olmstead, our show runner, to really, you know, bring more dimension and facets of their past and their lives into the present day, you know, sort of life of these guys. So it’s pretty compelling.
Q: Danielle, do you find that that’s really important to make this more than just a fire of the week thing?
Danielle Gelber: Absolutely. Okay, I mean, I was just going to say, yes, absolutely it’s the kind of thing where you’re only going to be invested so much in the adrenaline part of the show. But to carry you through emotionally you need to go past that and much deeper. And these people are really an ad hoc family in this fire house and the whole effort of the show is like a lot of NBC’s great, you know, dramas of the past to really get into their lives. It’s an amalgam of the two, the action and the emotion are what we think makes it a really strong show.
Taylor Kinney: And I think the aim and the payoff with what we’re doing to have an audience empathize with these characters is how much time you spend with them and how much time they spend together as a family – as you would a family. It’s a – the camaraderie and the – just the cohesive effort that they have together and yes, they have these careers and they get into, you know, situations that put their life on the line at times but they’re also just people and they’re also dealing with demons and triumphs and successes like anybody else. And I think it’s great – the one thing about getting episodes is, you know, I’ve really enjoyed the time that we all spend together. So everybody gets – everyone has their separate issues but they all come together and they all – we’ll sit down and have a meal together or they’ll all go to a call together. So it’s the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood among these people is – and I think it’s really special. It’s not so singular where you follow two characters and they never interact with two other characters; it’s all one big, you know, collaborative effort.
Q: Do you guys as actors find that being in Chicago and away from home and living here right now that all the actors sort of get that camaraderie going too and it’s helping the show?
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, definitely. I think it gives us a better chance. And I’ve found that on a lot of jobs that when everyone is in the same boat on location like we are and in such a great city, thank God, that it really, you know, because people don’t, you know, know that many people here and it gives us a lot more opportunity to get to a place on a level where we’re much more comfortable and know each other much better than if we’re in LA and everyone has their separate car and their separate lives definitely.
Q: Danielle, there’s a huge fire in Chicago this weekend. Do you guys follow what’s happening in the city and think about ways to incorporate?
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, we saw that; I saw that last night on the news.
Danielle Gelber: Oh yeah, we definitely – you’re just so much more emotionally invested in the city that you don’t live in when you’re shooting a series there so absolutely. And, yes, we really want to mine stories from, you know, real endemic situations to Chicago. So, you know, we’re constantly working with our consultants and just our own awareness as to, you know, what kind of great stories we can tell. We really want the show to feel very authentic to the city so we will always try and incorporate things that have happened in the past and dramatize them today or take things that are just happening now and really speak to them.
Jesse Spencer: As far as I know Chikerotis, consultant, every situation we’ve had so far has come from a real story. Most – a lot of them, I know, have been really close to the true stories; some have been adapted a little bit and creative license has been taken but they’re all based on something real that happened.
Q: Did you go through a fireman boot camp?
Taylor Kinney: Yeah we – yeah, during the pilot we came – I think we all got here in early March and we had about two weeks of rehearsals, prep and ride-alongs with, you know, prospective companies. You know, my character is on the rescue squad so I got to meet up with some guys from Squad 5 down in Englewood. I spent a day with them doing ride-alongs and Squad 3 in the city. And, you know, it’s – we went through a training regimen at the fire academy with Steve Chikerotis who’s – serves as an advisor on our show and I want to say he’s the battalion chief here in Chicago. And his experience and his knowledge has been invaluable. And he’s, you know, like I said he’s an advisor on set so if there’s any questions on know-how, you know, a way about going through something that we haven’t been trained on he’s there. So we’re not, you know, we’re not throwing arrows in the dark; we’re, you know, we’re doing things to authenticate them, to do the best portrayal of these people and what they – as possible. But, yes, we did – we spent a lot of time with these guys in ride-alongs and training.
Jesse Spencer: I think one of the best things is that they’re just always on set as well. You know, they play the engine squad – the engine company, rather. And just having those guys all around – around all the time just sort of really helps with the overall vibe of our cast because they’re always there and we’re always mingling with them. You know, they’re coming from a shift the day before or about to go to one the next day. And they swap out and change and so we get a really sort of nice cross section of, you know, the real guys doing the real job. And I think that’s really been invaluable to us. I didn’t know we were actually going to get that when we started it but really happy to have had that because they come in with something every week. You know, if you just talk to them for five minutes there’s always something going on that, you know, they’ve been doing and, I mean, even just their day to day lives. So it’s been great having them around.
Danielle Gelber: It’s also great on set because you – the episodic director does not literally have to direct those people; they know what they’re doing the second you say action. Which is really neat.
Taylor Kinney: And they have been – a lot of these guys, you know, we spend a lot of time with them on set and as with the cast and since we’re all away we spend time with them offset. You know, we go out and have dinners, you know, a few of the guys who went, you know, riding Harleys all over the city last weekend with one of the firefighters and another one of our buddies who’s on the show all the time we’ll go out and have beers with him. So everyone gets together and, you know, it’s, you know, we can, you know, bust each other’s balls and have a good time and show up and do our work and enjoy that. But it’s a give and take, you know, they, you know, they can ask us questions about, you know, something or a camera position or a blocking or a move, you know, and it’s a back and forth, you know, we’ll ask them about, you know, would you necessarily – would you use this tool in this situation or how would you, you know, what’s the most efficient way to go about any given situation. And it’s a give and take but it’s become really great, you know, like a small family.
Q: What have each of you found the most surprising or maybe the most shocking thing that you learned about firefighting or an incident; was there something that really shocked you? Or is it just all of it is pretty amazing?
Taylor Kinney: I remember at the – and, Jesse, I’m sure you could attest to this – at the training facility at the fire academy we put on all of our bunker gear, our air mask, helmet, gloves and have a tool, a halogen bar or maybe an axe and we go through the motions of clearing a room in the event of a fire and whether it’s a floor below or above. They say we’re going to walk into a smoke-filled room to simulate a structure fire. And so you go through these motions in a parking lot how to clear a room, you block it out and you say, you know, fair enough. I think I can handle this. And it’s maybe 65 pounds of gear. And they throw you into a room and it’s filled with smoke and you can’t see anything. So it was a shock to the senses. And I was – I couldn’t believe it. I think that was the most surprising thing that these guys will walk into a situation like that and still have the wherewithal to remove a victim or clear a room or find a room or check underneath a bed when you can’t see anything. It’s really tough to breathe and you only have a matter – you have maybe between 10 and 15 minutes. And, you know, you do get – the protective gear, the bunker gear, is good for I want to say 18 seconds in, you know, if stuff really hit the fan. So that was really – that was a shock.
Jesse Spencer: It puts it in perspective. You just realize how it’s not just a physical job but mentally, I mean, you have to really be able to control your fear and your emotions. And that’s what these guys do as well; that’s the stuff that you don’t really see. They have to stay calm, have to stay in control. They have to stay, you know, be able to communicate really, really well, be able to get their guys in, do their job and get them out again. And when you’re, you know, when you experience, you know, if you experience claustrophobia like that and the pressure, I mean, it really plays with your mind and can screw you up. And, I mean, we were experiencing that simulation probably, I don’t know, maybe 10% of the heat of a real fire, I reckon. And you’re coming out drenching. I don’t know how they do it to be honest. Like it’s, you know, these guys they operate on a different level.
Danielle Gelber: There’s no doubt about it. Also I have to say our actors have been pretty terrific because the bunker gear that they’re wearing is really regulation gear; it’s not designed like, you know, fake paper mache boulder or something. It’s the real stuff. I put it on and I was just weighed down instantly.
Taylor Kinney: I think we’ll be grateful for it in the middle of winter when we’re working outside on location and we have a 16-hour day wearing that. It is warm.
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, because throughout summer it’s been hell. But I think we’ll appreciate it a bit more.
Q: Danielle, Dick Wolf said that this is not going to be a fire of the week show. So can you talk about what kinds of stories we’re going to see if we’re not going to have a fire each week for them to put out?
Danielle Gelber: Sure, well, I mean, by design our show on the action side of things was, you know, sort of crafted so that we can have different kinds of rescues that aren’t only fire oriented. So by that he really meant that, you know, our fire house is very unique and designed after a place in Chicago where we’ve got not only a fire truck but a rescue squad and EMT paramedic. So we can tell stories from all of those angles, medical angles, rescue operations that aren’t involving fire and then of course the truck stories. But all of those action sequences are designed to be complemented by strong character storytelling that have to do with continuing relationships, emotional ups and downs, friendships, you know, all their lives outside their jobs, that kind of thing.
Q: So do you have big things planned for like Episode 2 or 3? Is there something that we can hone in on?
Danielle Gelber: Yeah, I mean, Jesse, do you want to speak to what goes on with your character in the first few episodes?
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, we do have – there’s normally, I would say, at least one sort of big action sequence, you know, that doesn’t – but it doesn’t always necessarily involve fire just to support what Danielle said. You know, there’s a lot – there’s so many car crashes and, I mean, there’s just limitless amount of stuff that we can get our teeth into in terms of set ups, which is really exciting, you know, and I like that stuff. I think that stuff is, you know, it’s what they do and the situations are different every time and you don’t approach every situation the same way, you know, because everything is always different. So they always sort of fly by the seat of their pants a bit and that’s what these guys are good at. But in Episode 3 we have a car crash in which there’s – a drunk driver’s involved and a young boy is paralyzed – the victim of the car crash. And the drunk driver turns out to be the son of the – of a well – quite ac corrupt police officer who tries to get his son off and out of the charge. And Casey gets caught in the middle of it and decides to pursue the truth of the matter which is that the – that his son was drunk and caused this accident. And basically through – there’s quite a story arch-over about three or four episodes, I believe, that this character pursues Casey in a very threatening manner physically – threatens his whole life and his family and is pursuing to try and get his son off and Casey’s backed into a corner and reacts in the way that any guy would when he’s protecting his loved ones.
Danielle Gelber: And Severide’s character is going to be grappling with what happens to him in the pilot where he has an injury that he’s now trying to hide from his superiors so that he can just bear up under it and not have to face potential, you know, disability.
Taylor Kinney: Well a lot of this – yeah, there’s an injury and everything stems from a scene during the pilot when we lose a comrade, a fellow firefighter that Casey and Severide are both friends with. Severide has been friends with him and known him since grammar school; they go way back. And he gets injured during this fire. And it just serves as a scar. I think every time he’s reminded of what happened and it serves as a catalyst for the tension between Casey and Severide because, you know, these guys are competitive guys, it’s a healthy rivalry until this incident. And they both point the finger at each other. And I think they have their own way of dealing with the emotional baggage that follows and pursues whether it’s, you know, whether it’s distancing themselves from loved ones or, you know, Casey has his own struggles and I don’t necessarily reach out. You know, I kind of bury it down. And we see the escalation of the problem with that in the following episodes, in 2, 3, 4 and there’s a big story arc with that with Severide anyway with his injury.
Q: We’ve already seen in promos that there seems to be some bone to pick between your two characters because of the accident that happens or maybe just because they have a different approach to things, etcetera. In one of the upcoming episodes Casey and Paramedic Dawson are in a lot of trouble for different reasons. And Severide kind of pulls Casey out of a very dangerous situation. So their relationship – will it change a little from there on? And could you tell us a bit more about the background of your characters; how much of it we will get to discover during the season?
Jesse Spencer: Sure. I think what that symbolizes when you see these guys, you know, they have their personal issues and professional issues, whatever goes on between them and wherever they disagree and but heads is always – is always thrown out the window when, you know, when they’re working together. And that’s when we see them doing the jobs that they were born to do.
And that always overrides anything that’s going on with them personally. And I think we’ll see that time and time and again in the series. It’s sort of the premise of the series, I think, that it’s a big messy ugly family but once the shit hits the fan, you know, they’ll throw themselves under a bus for each other. And I think that’s true of the real firefighters. You know, whatever happens once they go into these situations they look after each other and, you know, lives are at stake and they’re there to help each other. And that’s always going to be true to our show.
Q: Obviously the show explores the effects the job has on firefighters. Is that something you’ve spoken to the real life firefighters you’ve been working with about? And how the traumas that they see affects their everyday lives.
Taylor Kinney: I was just talking about this I want to say Thursday night, Jesse, the night that we were up in – on location with the car pileup. And we had a scene where there was maybe a 15-car pileup. And I was asking about once getting out of the squad the most efficient way and the quickest way to go through to, you know, see whether it’s – if it’s a triage scene or a situation where you had to get people from, you know, a classification of injury. And, you know, the really bad ones you get to red. If people are deceased you move on. If someone is screaming then, you know, their vitals are okay, you move on to someone in worse condition. And in asking this they, you know, some of these firefighters were saying how you almost become emotionally detached in the heat of it. You know, your adrenaline is up, you’re doing a job that you’ve been trained to do. And you have to rely on other people trusting you so you’re doing – you’re there for a reason, like these guys are great at what they do and they put themselves in these situations. And they kind of shut off, like they’re so, you know, well trained they just do it. And they say we’ll see some things and we’ll see something really disturbing or a kid that’s really hurt or someone that’s crying out and they can’t help them because they can’t get to them. And it’s only after maybe a few hours go by or a day goes by that the actual event resonates and then they say wow, I can’t believe that happened. But I think a common trait with a lot of the firefighters and paramedics that we’ve gotten to work with is they all share that. They can all go into a situation and be completely professional whereas a common person seeing something might turn the other way and run or scream or just have a completely different reaction. And I’m still amazed by that.
Jesse Spencer: Yeah. I had – I was speaking to Chik about a week ago when we were filming this – the apartment fire. And he’d literally just come back from a run. He came back to the set and he had grease on his shirt – on his white shirt. I was like where were you? He was like oh I was just at a fire. Like, yeah, we lost a three-year old. I’m like are you serious? And he’s like yeah. And I was like is that bad? Is that – I mean, how do you feel about that? He said well it’s not, you know, it went – the ones that you couldn’t have saved, you know, that are sort of, you know, if they call the fire department too late or whatever and, you know, it has nothing to do with them he said that’s easier. The hard ones are when like you’ve got, you know, the kid out on the front lawn and you’re doing CPR and it’s really touch and go and then you lose the kid or whatever. He said they’re the really hard ones, the ones that really – are really, really close and then that’s when they start questioning themselves, you know, if they were there, you know, 30 seconds too late or whatever then the question, you know, could I have done anything different, you know, to save the kid or, you know, that’s when the psychological stuff I think really kicks in for them when it gets really close.
Q: In the UK you’re primarily known for being in House and Neighbors. So you’ve spent a lot of your career in a uniform. Did you anticipate that you would spend your life in a uniform? And was there ever a point in your life prior to this point where you thought maybe I could do a job in the emergency services or something like that?
Jesse Spencer: Well I’ve never even really thought about that. I guess – yeah, I guess it was in uniform wasn’t I? It was still a uniform. I know, I’m moving up the ranks. Yeah, I mean, emergency fire – no probably not, not unless I went to medicine and stuff that way. My brother was really into – he wanted to do trauma surgery at one point and gunshot victims and stuff and wanted to go to LA because they have the best gunshot service in the world apparently. But, no, I don’t think it was, you know, sort of really my thing. This – I mean, this – I mean, Chicago Fire is such a, you know, in terms of being in a uniform it’s a great mixture of, you know, the sort of, you know, these professional guys. But, you know, it’s so physically and emotionally-oriented, you know, adrenaline is really, really high on this. And that’s sort of what really makes it exciting and new. There’s so much physical stuff that we’re doing every week and all kinds of different stuff and most if it’s based on true stories. And that’s – it’s hard work but it’s very, very exciting stuff.
Q: You’ve talked about a lot of the physicality and that but can you talk more specifically about how hard it is for you guys as actors, I mean, are you doing a lot of the stunts? Has it taken a toll on your or anything?
Taylor Kinney: I know as much as possible – as many stunts as I can do I like to do them. But we do – we have great stuntmen on the show. And, you know, for obvious reasons, liabilities, we’re only – we only do so much. Maybe two weeks ago we were filming an episode and we had a couple of roofers that got into a situation 50-feet up on a slated roof – a slated church roof. And so we get to the truck, you know, we scale 100-foot ladder and we could go up to the apex of the roof and get our rigging together and maybe we’ll have a stunt guy rappel down on that actual roof. And then we can do pickups and close up and coverage with the actors on a separate roof or telling the same story in a less dire environment or, you know, situation. But other than that the bunker gear and the suits and the running and being in close – really close proximity to fire under, you know, a controlled circumstances that’s pretty exciting. So other than a few stunts I would say that we’re all doing our own stuff.
Jesse Spencer: No, I mean, we’re basically doing – yeah, we’re doing most of it, you know. And, I mean, they’re big long tough days, I can’t deny it. When we’re standing around in bunker gear and 65-pounds worth of gear and running up and down ladders and smashing through doors and, you know, you’re doing over and over and over again it’s…
Taylor Kinney: Jesse, you were – Jesse was hanging 45-feet from a ladder and you did that stunt. That was amazing.
Jesse Spencer: Oh yeah, yeah. I forgot about that. I’m like what do we do? Oh, yeah, we did this and then we did that. And, yeah, that was quite fun hanging up there doing. But, you know, it gets to the point, you know, where we have to get me onto the top of the ladder where I’m safe. And we actually have to do that. You know, and you do it like how many times do we have to swing over. If you actually pull – when you’re pulling a guy up and he’s wearing all this gear and you’re in an awkward situation you realize how difficult it really is to actually save somebody or help somebody out of a situation. It’s really tough work.
Q: Jesse, we know that Casey has a side job at a construction business. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, well, I mean, basically all firemen have other jobs. They all have some other sort of career to supplement what they do. Because they, you know, they work 24-hour shifts and then have two days off regularly so they’re at the firehouse probably around three times a week and then they can take other shifts if they need to. But basically they all need to supplement their income with another career. So they all – so every person has a side career running along doing something. And Casey construction was sort of – was perfect for my character so that’s what they went with.
Danielle Gelber: We’re also really able in our storytelling to use that as just another dimension for his character and really all of our characters depending on what they’re involved with personally we can tell, you know, all kinds of emotional sub-stories with respect to what he does as a construction worker.
Q: Someone should tell Dennis Leary they left that out of Rescue Me.
Danielle Gelber: We love hearing that.
Jesse Spencer: Oh well, I don’t know, I mean, that’s a different – I never even saw Rescue Me but I heard – I mean, very good things about it. It got very, very dark I believe some of the firefighters I talked to kind of went yeah, well, you know, it kind of got really, really into a dark spot. And, you know, I think as much as possible I think these guys deal with situations – although they’re heavy – with a sense of humor as well. You know, and that’s how they cope with it.
Q: When you first read your characters did you have one way you were going to approach the character and then has it all changed once you figured out all the types of things that firefighters go through on a day to day basis?
Taylor Kinney: I would say because when you first get a script and we first got this project – and I had spent a time in San Francisco working on a show as a paramedic and I got – and I spent a lot of time with paramedics, firefighters there. So the one thing I think getting the script and was to actually spend time and to do these ride alongs and to ask those questions before. But, yeah, there is – there was an emotional detachment that, for my character with – in regards to the relationship that he has with Casey and the incident that happens and follows he still doesn’t – he has a way of coping that is, you know, he suppresses emotions. And so if any question that I had would be why? And I think the more time that I spend with firefighters and the more questions you ask you learn that more. And I’m a lot more settled in – I want to say my choices as Severide regarding work and emotional issues.
Jesse Spencer: Yeah, I mean, I think they’ve written it – I don’t think it was, you know, much that we, you know, we had to change, you know, once they met us or anything I think because Michael and Derek, you know, spent some time out here and they’ve spent a lot of time with consultants, Steve Chikerotis and did a lot of research. And, you know, the idea behind, you know, it’s a fine line because, you know, they want our characters to care in the show but once we’re getting down and doing the business, you know, our characters, you know, really just get down to work and that’s what they’re good at, you know, they’ve switched that stuff off. But obviously they want the characters to deal with the emotional ramification, you know, after a scene or sometimes during a scene as well because that stuff happens, you know, they see things and things happen. But they had that pretty much down I think from the pilot onwards. And, yeah, that’s going to pop up again all throughout the show.