On Monday, October 7, Annie Ilonzeh, Joe Minoso, Taylor Kinney, and Miranda Rae Mayo of Chicago Fire joined us in a roundtable discussion about the upcoming crossover episode/s—set to air October 16 on NBC.
Some major talking points were: shooting new episodes, overcoming obstacles, challenges, and loss, and feelings about the crossover event as the stakes are raised this season.
How has it been different shooting this season than it was last season?
Annie Ilonzeh: “I’m in it. I’m grounded. It feels good. Found her voice a bit and even my own. Coming here, these guys are a well oiled machine and legit a family that’s glued together and it’s not falling apart. It was a bit intimidating for me, in my head at least thinking, am I going to be able to fit in? And these guys have accepted me with open arms and that made me feel super comfortable and confident. So that happened pretty immediately. And then also, too, knowing season two for Foster, she’s not trying to prove something and I think initially it was the idea of, is she gonna…are we gonna like her like we loved Gabby, and we don’t want her here. And I think now the viewers are like, there’s not a comparison between Foster and Gabby. She’s a different person, there was never a thing of replacing, there was never competition with them and I think knowing that the viewers are over that notion has made me feel comfortable. So season two is a smoother ride.”
Foster decided that she’s happy being a paramedic right now. Do you think that’ll change at some point?
Annie Ilonzeh: “I think she’s really in the pocket. And it is where I’m supposed to be. Initially in season one with her getting offered to go back to Med school and that was a pivotal moment for her and it could have been a major turning point if it went the other way but having such an honorable offer and turning that down, I think really solidified that this is where I’m going to be.”
What would you say is Foster’s biggest obstacle this season and how would she approach overcoming it?
Annie Ilonzeh: “Initially with season one starting with the death of Otis and losing her partner, that was a huge obstacle of this idea of family [that’s] so embedded, and for your sister to leave…that abandonment was really tough, and then having to just say, OK, overcompensate with: I can do this, and jump into this role of leadership and trying to turn it around. For the future, I wonder if it will be something relationship related with some type of a love interest and that be an obstacle or something that is tough for her to deal with. We haven’t explored too much of her family background yet, at least on camera, we know that her mother passed from cancer, so I think something along that line, too.”
Cruz has been having a very difficult time since losing his friend, Otis, how are we going to see him adjust to life without his friend?
Joe Minoso: “Well, I think specifically for Cruz, he lost his connection to youthful exuberance in losing Otis. And so, I think unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the character, you’re going to see kind of an evolution of real growth for him. I think he is going to be somebody that becomes a lot more laser focused on his career. I think when you see somebody in this business die that way, you can’t help but be affected by everything you walk into now, and so I think you’re going to see that manifest for him, both in the way that he attacks his job and how he’s going to try to hold on to the last few people in his life that he has and he loves, specifically Chloe and his brother. So I think you’re going to see a real effort on his part to grow up, frankly. I think Otis gave him an opportunity to live in that juvenile space longer than he would have liked.”
It’s been really good to see Chloe supporting Cruz. How do you think this relationship has been important for Cruz even before Otis died?
Joe Minoso: “We saw seven years of Cruz constantly being rejected in one way or the other. The biggest relationship he had was with Brett and she basically wanted to dump him because he was too enthusiastic in the bedroom. So he beat her to the punch and broke up with her, but really it was all about her. It is really refreshing to see someone love Cruz as much as Cruz loves. I think he’s such a lover and he’s so open with his affection and he’s so willing to give himself like that, that it’s really nice to see someone reciprocate that kind of love. I think he deserves it and I think they have found a great character in Chloe. I think there’s such a good match. And I’m really excited, we’ll see a lot more of Chloe this season. I’m really excited to work with her more. She’s a fantastic actress.”
With Gallo coming in, how is Cruz going to react to that?
Joe Minoso: “You know, I think in a lot of ways, we’ll explore learning each other. I think the one major interaction that you’re going to see between Cruz and Gallo in the very beginning is ultimately Gallo moving into Otis’s locker and Cruz not being ok with that. But I don’t think it’s about Gallo. I think it’s about the respect for this one fallen firefighter who we’re not ready necessarily to say goodbye to all the way yet. But beyond that, when you have a firefighter lose another firefighter in as gruesome a matter as he just did, and you see this young, new hot shot come in and feel like he can do no wrong, all you’re thinking is that kid’s going to get himself killed. And the last thing that this firehouse wants is another death, so I think that there’s a lot of where people are coming from when it comes to Blake. The kid is talented, and he’s a go getter, and he’s got tons of ambition, but he’s going to do something stupid one day, and that’s where I think the concern for Gallo come from everybody more than everything else.”
Are Kelly and Stella in a good and stable place?
Taylor Kinney: “Yes. That I can say with assurance. It’s not all fights and contentions and back and forth. I think we’re stable and we’re helping each other in other ways. I think once you put that to bed, the question marks and the anxieties of are we/aren’t we, so it’s been healthy.”
Miranda Rae Mayo: “Yeah, I’m committed. I think that’s essentially what he’s saying. I’m here, let’s build home. And that’s what we’ve been doing this season. Providing that space for one another just knowing like, hey you’re safe here. You can go off and feel uncertain in other places, but here, you’re safe.”
On the crossover…
Miranda Rae Mayo: “It was fun. Our special effects and make up department did an incredible job so that was fun. But the whole thing has just been very grand. Like the production value, the shots, everything. I think that our audience is going to be so pleased and just blown away by the quality of this three hour event. Even the teaser, it looks like a feature film. And every single one of our directors was so specific about what they wanted, and the shots, and how it looked, and the writers… we’re still getting pages. You know, just wanting to make it the best that it can be. So it was really fun to work on something where everybody was so excited about making it great.”
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