By Emma Sarran Webster | January 3, 2017 | People
Joe Minoso and his Chicago Fire cast and crew just celebrated a major milestone: On December 6, the show aired its one-hundredth episode. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a time when Chicago Fire wasn’t a Chicago fixture, and the fictional universe didn’t include three, soon-to-be four (Chicago Justice premieres March 5), shows. But Minoso, who plays Joe Cruz, has been there from the start and experienced One Chicago's growth and success firsthand. We caught up with him to find out what this wild ride has been like for him, what to expect from tonight’s big crossover episode, and how his recent Chicago wedding played out. The crossovers will air January 3: Chicago Fire at 9/8 central, and Chicago P.D. at 10/9 central.
Congrats on 100 episodes of Chicago Fire! How does it feel?
JOE MINOSO: It’s not like anything else. It’s an incredible experience, being on this show at all. Being able to work with such a tremendous group of people and having developed such a family to work with over the last four-and-a-half years has been the highlight of my career. The fact that we get to do this—hopefully for another 100 episodes—is a dream come true.
When you first started on the show, did you ever imagine that it would last this long and grow into the massive franchise that it has?
JM: Absolutely not. I think most actors come in with their hopes high, [thinking] we'll [do] as much of it as America will watch, and hopefully they latch on to the show and we create a following. To think it’s expanded into this universe of shows—it’s unlike anything we have ever seen on television. The fact that I get to play the same character over four different shows, over four days of the week, is unlike anything that’s ever been seen on television, so it's a real honor.
What do you think it is that makes these shows so successful and resonate so much with audiences?
JM: I speak for Chicago Fire in this particular case. I think what we’ve been able to really hone in on [is] that family that we've built. Off-screen and on-screen, we truly are a real family. We care for one another; we’re [close with] each other; we’re at each others weddings. I think that has translated in a very real way on the show. And I think this city, in and of itself, is a working-class [city with] family-oriented people, and I think that’s what we depict on the show. And I think, in a lot of ways, that’s what people are attracted to about us, and why we've been as successful as we are.
You lived in Chicago before joining Chicago Fire, but what’s the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve learned about the city from working on the show?
JM: You know, it’s funny because when you live in a city, I [don’t] think you explore it as much as you should. I was born and raised in New York and I went to the Statue of Liberty once. [But] with Chicago Fire, we’re everywhere. We’re deep into the south side; we go up to the north end; we go into the suburbs sometimes; [we go] downtown. I think, [getting] to see the city through the prism of a television show, [I’ve seen] how beautiful the scope of the landscape is.
[And when] we go to different locations, I think about [things like], 10 years ago when I was working at Kitty O'Sheas in Chicago. We were just filming right by [where I worked] a month ago, and I [couldn’t] help but recall being a server, in 100-degree heat, serving cokes for a bunch of Lollapalooza fans; and now I’m doing a television show. It’s humbling and it really helps me remember where I came from. That has been really big for me.
There’s a big Chicago Fire/Chicago P.D. crossover episode airing tonight. What can you tell us about that?
JM: I’ve always loved crossovers; they're so epic [and] there’s [about] a million things going on. A lot of the crossover [will focus on] what’s going on with Dawson and Casey and their legal struggles with the adoption of their foster child, Louie. That’s going to unfold in an interesting way, and I’m sure there will be plenty of drama. [The episode] will also take a look at what’s been going on with Severide. He's been trying to move forward with [donating] his bone marrow and trying to help somebody, and unfortunately gets back into some of his older habits. He starts to kind of question where he’s going and what he’s doing, and I think it unfolds in a really fascinating way.
If you had to add a fifth show to the franchise, what would your idea be?
JM: I think they should do Chicago Media. I think it'd be really interesting to take a look at reporters, and bloggers, and journalism as a whole. Especially in a city that is so rife with so much political drama, I think it would be really fascinating.
Do you have a go-to hangout in Chicago that you feel is your own Molly's?
JM: Absolutely: MAD Social. It's an awesome little restaurant on Madison and Racine, and it’s probably where we go three out of four weekends a month. Their drinks are fantastic, their food is fantastic, and their atmosphere is fantastic.
Last time we spoke with you, it was before your wedding, so congrats on getting married! How was the wedding? It looked like it was a big “One Chicago” affair.
JM: Yes, it was. Charlie Barnett and Yuri Sardarov were in my wedding party; they were my groomsmen. Christian Stolte was our officiant. It was an incredible event. We actually had no idea what Christian was going to do for the ceremony. We trusted him, and we consider him the smartest, funniest guy that we know. So we told him, “Surprise us. Do whatever you do,” and he showed up in tremendous fashion. He brought a gospel choir [and] he got Jesse Spencer and Miranda Rae Mayo to play instruments during the wedding. It was really nice, a real family affair, and all of it was such a surprise to my wife and me.
Photography by Parish Lewis/NBC
April 25, 2017