Chicago Fire – Jesse Spencer Q & A

The last episode for NBC’s Chicago Fire is May 22 – tonight. But that’s not the last thing you’ll hear or see from Chicago Fire – it’s already been picked up for a second season. As a matter of fact the show, it’s concept, and perhaps the city of Chicago has proven so popular that there is already a spin-off in development – aptly called Chicago PD.

One of the reasons Chicago Fire has done so well, besides the explosive physical and emotional scenes, is the excellent cast that’s been assembled. But that’s always been a trademark of a Dick Wolf production. Just think of all of the Law & Order permutations; well written scripts about contemporary concerns with a memorable cast.

Jesse Spencer is probably known to audiences best as Dr. Robert Chase on House. He played that role for eight years, but now it’s on to Lieutenant Matthew Casey of Firehouse 51 – Chicago Fire.

Chicago Fire - Season 1

POPCULTUREZOO: Now that you’re playing a fireman, do you have a different reaction than you used to when you see first responders in situations like the Boston Marathon bombings?

JESSE SPENCER: Yeah. They’re a community and so they all know each other and when stuff happens, they tell you. A few months back, our chief fire consultant came in and he usually wears a white shirt and he had a bit of black on his collar, and I was like, “Have you been working?” He was like, “I just came from a fire – we lost a three-month-old.” It’s real, because it’s right there and they’re doing it and telling us where they’re coming from and where they’re going to and who their friends are. I’m sure they know a lot of the guys out in Boston. I know they know some of the cops out there. So we have inside info into the first responders at those sorts of situations.

PCZ: We know that Casey is going to go on a revenge trip regarding several things that happened this season, what was your reaction to reading that script?

SPENCER: To be honest, I was excited about it. I love the physical stuff. I think that’s what the show has offered me that I didn’t get in House at all – it was so cerebral for eight years that it was good to chase someone down. It’s great – I’m really enjoying the physicality of it. I mean, it’s nothing without the character element, but I think they play to both really well. But obviously, in a show like this, toward the end of the first season, it’s going to be a high-octane finish for sure.

PCZ: Of the physical stuff you’ve gotten to do this season, what’s been the most challenging and did you ever get hurt?

SPENCER: The last thing I did was a big sequence trying to bust someone out of more or less a metal cage. It was a fourteen-hour shoot, and wearing seventy pounds of gear and busting down doors – I can’t tell you how hard it is and I can’t really put it into words, but every time I’ve run out and ripped my mask off and talked to the firefighters, I’m like, “How do you -“ Because I’m starting to get claustrophobic – I think I’m getting get worse, not better, but it’s really, really tough. We experience probably a tenth of what they experience in a real situation, so you can’t help but really have respect for those guys and what they do. They do amazing stuff.

PCZ: How much training did you get for all of this?

SPENCER: A couple of weeks. Everyone’s really fit. We all box together. We actually hang out with the cops as well. The cops and one of the ADs on our show do the Golden Gloves, so we’ve been training with all the cops. There are days when you’ve got the gang-bangers and the cops all training together in the gym. So we’re all pretty physically fit to start out with, so it’s a matter of learning, knowing the equipment and techniques and having the fire consultant there on set to make sure that we’re portraying it correctly.

Chicago Fire - Season 1

PCZ: Your ex-girlfriend, Dawson, is back on the show, but your character still has a thing for Gaby. Is there actually going to be a romantic triangle? Could you talk about that relationship?

SPENCER: I believe that’s going to be a long-running arc, which is nice. I think an arc like that should be played out – they don’t want to burn it out too quick, so that will be heading into Season 2, I think. It’s been really nice having the situation with Mills [Charlie Bennett] as the candidate under Casey, yet there’s an attraction between Casey and Dawson [Monica Raymund], and is that affecting their relationship, or is he able to separate that and be professional about it? It’s kind of nice to watch the interplay between the professional and the personal.

PCZ: When you started with Chicago Fire, was there any thought of letting you use your real Australian accent?

SPENCER: No. There is that exchange program that they do have, but that’s specifically with bush fires in California and Australia. So they have an exchange program, but no, not in Chicago.

PCZ: What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t gotten to do just yet?

SPENCER: I want to start a hockey team, the Chicago Fire hockey team, just so we can punch arms on the ice. That’s what I want to see.

PCZ: Did you play hockey in Australia?

SPENCER: No, never. We’ve been going to all the Black Hawk games. But I can skate. It’s because I’m such a sports fiend, we’ve been going to all the Bears games and the Hawks games. We’re getting quite involved in Chicago.

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PCZ: What would you most like people to know about Chicago Fire right now?

SPENCER: I literally had a fireman come up to me and, listen, Chicago loves our show, they really do. I know it’s always difficult for people of a certain vocation to watch their vocation being portrayed on screen, but that fireman was literally like, “Hey, thank you for portraying us in such a great light. It’s the heart of the show – you guys really capture it – the heart of it is amazing. Thanks.” It made me feel really good, that he felt that we were capturing the heart and soul essence of their community. That feels great.

PCZ: On a much more serious note, would you do a calendar, a firefighter calendar by any chance?

SPENCER: Yeah. Sure. I mean, I think they actually have one up on the NBC website, I think. You can have a look.

NOTE FROM PCZ: Yes, there is a calendar on the NBC website – but not that kind of calendar.

Chicago Fire – on NBC – Wednesdays 10PM – Tonight the Season One finale “A Hell of a Ride”