“Fire,” executive produced by Dick Wolf, the man behind the “Law & Order” franchise, follows firefighters and paramedics at the firehouse of Engine 51. The quickly became a hit when it premiered in 2012.
“It doesn’t matter where I go now because ‘Chicago Fire’ is in almost every single country in the world, said series star Eamonn Walker during an October press event celebrating the franchise. “And so most people go, ‘Hey Chief!,’ wherever I go.”
“Chicago Fire” currently ranks as NBC’s second highest rated series behind “This Is Us.” It spawned “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med,” and a third spin-off, “Chicago Justice,” will launch in early 2017.
The “Fire” cast celebrated the show’s 100th episode in December with a show appropriately titled “One Hundred.” Walker said he’s “very-very proud” of the crossover shows, and noted “the precedent that was set with this cast and crew.”
“The formula that they created — that we put out — they repeated and now created a world (and) therefore created American television history. How can you not be proud to be a part of that? I don’t know where it’s going to end up, but I’m really glad that we’re doing ‘Fire’ cause I’m honored to play a firefighter because I know the job that they do.”
Walker’s ‘Fire’ co-stars joined him during NBC’s Chicago day, where we asked Kara Killmer and Monica Raymund if their character research revealed any true-life stories about sexism in the profession.
“It’s a topic that’s often talked about here in Chicago, and all of the cities I’m sure it’s talked about,” Raymund said. “We have heard stories and accounts from women who are female Firefighter/Paramedics about some sexism that they have experienced and it’s an ongoing challenge and ongoing fight for them. We’ve also heard different perspectives of people manipulating the system. I think it’s something that has a lot more growth to go, and a lot more work needs to be done to fight for equality between male and females in the Chicago Fire Department,” she explained.
“When you watch “Chicago Fire” you’re watching a family of people who happen to be firefighters, and that’s what’s great about it,” said Walker. “Our alchemy and relationship as a family is what you get and hopefully you get invested in our lives and the people who are connected to us.”
Walker plays Chief Wallace Boden on the series, a long-time veteran of the CFD who is extremely protective of the men and women who serve under him, even putting his career on the line several times.
“I know I’m very different to Boden (and) Boden is basically Steve Chikerotis, who’s a fireman’s fireman,” he said.
Chikerotis was a 35-year member of the Chicago Fire Department, where he served as a deputy district chief. Now he’s a consultant on the series and Walker describes him as the template for his character.
“I try to make all my characters completely different,” Walker told EUR/Electronic Urban Report during NBC Chicago day. “So when I started Boden, I knew what they had on page in terms of their broad-stoke notes, but when I went to the Chicago Academy with Steve Chikerotis, I was looking around for someone or something to click, and I met a bunch of characters. We’ve all met firefighters, mostly what they give you is, ‘Hey, I’m a jolly guy!’ So trying to get the real stuff out of a firefighter is like trying to get blood out of a stone. All their real true emotions they cover, and so I know I had to dig deeper.”
In order for Walker to play Boden, he knew he had to take “the jolly stuff” and “dig a little deeper” while asking questions.
“The question that brought something up for me with Steve Chikerotis, our consultant — who was still a firefighter at the time — was about children, and finding children in fires. So that made him go to a place and after that I knew Boden was going to be like him,” he explained.
“Chikerotis put himself first and he wouldn’t make you do something he wasn’t prepared to do himself. He doesn’t like bureaucracy. He doesn’t like politics and he will protect you to make sure you go home and see your family, as much as he can without pulling away from the job.”
Walker noted how his professional philosophy requires thorough research of the characters he takes on, because — as he put it — “Research is, for any given character, the only thing that makes the characters different.”
Catch Eamonn Walker when “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med” return with a crossover episode on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.
“Chicago P.D.” continues the crossover on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 10 p.m.
“Chicago Med” ends the #OneChicago episodes on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. EST.