By Cait Rohan | August 10, 2016 | People
Joe Minoso plays Chicago Fire’s Joe Cruz, a tough firefighter from the Windy City’s crime-riddled Humboldt Park. But while Cruz tends to hide his softer side (helping his gangster brother and being a Zumba instructor on the sly), Minoso lets his sweet, open personality shine right through. We caught up with the actor to find out what to expect from season five, how he brings his character to life, and why he and his fiancée chose Chicago for their upcoming fall wedding.
Joe Minoso attends a premiere party for NBC's Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med at STK Chicago.
You’re working on season five right now—any hints about what we can expect?
JOE MINOSO: A lot more of the things that you’ve seen from the last four seasons—a lot of action, a lot of drama, hopefully a couple of ridiculous moves [from] Otis and [me] for some laughs. We’re focusing on the outcome of what’s going on with Severide and Kidd; right at the very end of season four, when Grant, her ex-husband, is there with a knife. So we get to see the outcome of that. We’re also looking at what’s been going on with Dawson, and now she has to adopt this foster child and has to navigate being a new mother and doing that on the job. There’s going to be a lot of shifts for her character this season. It’s going to be pretty exciting.
What kind of research do you do to play your character, Joe Cruz?
JM: Obviously, we all have firefighter training. Every time we’re working with the tools, Steve Chikerotis, our technical advisor, he was the chief of the fire department here in Chicago, is always hounding us just to make sure we’re safe. All the equipment, all the tools, and all the rigs, everything is 100% exactly what a firefighter would use. We have to be really careful with that stuff because we could hurt ourselves. He’s really diligent about making sure that we stay safe and so every day [when] we find ourselves doing an action-y scene [it’s] like a crash-course in firefighter training, because we literally go through the same steps that they would, and you have to be able to portray that as realistically as possible. And, as I’m sure many firefighters will tell you, we miss the mark hugely, but at the same time, there’s plenty of them that will tell you that we do okay.
Could you ever be a firefighter in real life?
JM: Absolutely not. I don’t know that I have the particular fortitude that it takes to take on that type of job. It’s not only a taxing job, physically, but, mentally—men and women see some really awful things. It’s difficult, I think, even for them, to be able to let go of those things. They have to go home to their kids or their wives and they don’t want to burden them with all of that kind horrific imagery, so they hold all of that in, and somehow they’re really just the noblest, nicest, most welcoming, inviting people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I don’t have what it takes to kind of separate my mind space like that, I think.
You’ve lived with costars Charlie Barnett and Yuri Sardarov. Do you still? What’s it like living with people you work with?
JM: I lived with Yuri Sardarov and Charlie Barnett our first season, then just with Charlie our second season, and then I met the woman of my dreams so we ended up moving in together. It was an incredible time—we [had] the cast over a lot for poker games and parties. The three of us are pretty social, and we were always looking for reasons to hang out with the cast—we totally, legitimately like them, which is rare. I didn’t get much sleep that year but it was a lot of fun.
Congrats on recently being nominated for an Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actor! How does it feel?
JM: Thank you! It’s always an honor. You forget that there are people that are looking at your stuff and possibly there are awards, because you get caught up in […] just doing the work. When it’s 100 degrees outside and you’re just like moving from A to B, you don’t really think, “Oh yeah, this is going to bring up a nomination.” The Imagen Awards in general are a really great time—it’s a room full of Latinos, so it can be loud and boisterous and fun.
Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire.
And congrats on your engagement! Anything you can reveal about your wedding plans?
JM: There’s a password required; we’re doing a speakeasy theme. It’ll be in the fall, here in Chicago. We couldn’t think of a better city to do it than here.
Where do you hang out around Chicago?
JM: We love Mad Social, this week they started their brunch, which is insane. We’re really big fans of RM Champagne Lounge. My fiancée and I are really into a big rosé kick. We really love that place, it’s just got such a great vibe, and it’s where we’re going to host our rehearsal brunch because it fits into our theme so much and we’re such fans of their food and drinks. I’m a big golfer—I picked up the game about a year and a half ago, so I’m jumping around golf courses all over the city all the time.
You are super active on social media. How do you decide what to post/share? What inspires your feed?
JM: My goodness! Well, thank you, first of all. I try to instill a lot of humor in what I put on Instagram—all the things that I find inspirational or things that I find important for the world to see or think about. I’m a big proponent of the idea of joy being more a part of the everyday life, and that moments of joy come in the smallest ways, whether it’s a good meal, a drink with friends, a walk with your dog, or sitting down at a park to read a book. For example, when we’re doing stuff—we’re being silly on set and it’s bringing me joy, I like sharing that, because I hope that it will bring a smile to [other people’s] faces. I don’t know that I’m very actively thinking about how I’m curating my Instagram or my Twitter, but I guess it’s just a manifestation of what I want to reflect in the world.
What’s next for you?
JM: We’re gearing up for the second annual WhirlyCruz Cup. Last year we had a pretty successful event down at WhirlyBall, and raised the money for The 100 Club of Chicago. This year we’re teaming up with Shriner’s Hospital for Children and we’re expanding it, hoping to bring in even more celebrity talent. A big change this year is that we’re going to have open sponsorships for teams that will be actual kids who are from Shriner’s Hospital for Children, so you’ll get to sponsor a team of those kids, and they get a chance to experience WhirlyBall.
When I went out to the hospital last year, I met with a bunch of the kids there and so many of them are giant fans of wheelchair basketball. This is a perfect hybrid for these kids to have some fun and experience something new and just feel like kids. There will be the same big cup as last year, Chicago PD vs. Chicago Fire—we have to change that up a little bit because now we have Chicago Med and Chicago Justice, so it might be a four-way battle for the cup, who knows?
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELIZABETH MORRIS/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES (MINOSO AS CRUZ); TIMOTHY HIATT/WIREIMAGE (MINOSO AT PREMIERE PARTY)
January 4, 2019