Jessica McNamee is the star of Sirens, which is shot and set in Chicago.
Australian actress Jessica McNamee has a thing for Chicago. After gaining recognition as Rachel McAdams’ sister in the Windy City-set movie The Vow, McNamee now takes on the role of a tough-girl cop in Denis Leary’s Chicago-set Sirens—a USA Network comedy about three Chicago EMTs that premiered on March 6.
Here’s what McNamee has to say about filming in Chicago, working with McAdams and Channing Tatum, laughing on set…and why she’s keeping the list of people she’d like to do love scenes with a secret.
You filmed in Chicago for almost a year. Did you discover any great restaurants? JESSICA MCNAMEE: We all lived downtown, so we spent a lot of time at a bar called D4(345 E. Ohio St., 312-624-8385) because it was super close to us. My favorite places are Maude’s(840 W. Randolph St., 312-243-9712) (best cocktails); Au Cheval(800 W. Randolph St., 312-929-4580) (best burgers); La Scarola(721 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-1740) (best Italian); and Shaw’s Crab House(21 E. Hubbard St., 312-527-2722) (best seafood). We also spent a lot of time in the West Loop. The best place I went, though, was Grace(652 W. Randolph St., 312-234-9494). It was an amazing experience. Denis [Leary] took us all there for a cast dinner when we arrived to shoot the series. Wow—incredible degustation.
How about any cultural spots or institutions? JM: I loved the architectural boat tour. Chicago is such a beautiful city and to see it from the river was unreal. I love jazz and blues so I was lucky enough to check out Kingston Mines(2548 N. Halsted St., 773-477-4646) and Buddy Guy’s Legends(700 S. Wabash Ave., 312-427-1190). One of our hairstylists on the show is the daughter of Lonnie Brooks so she took Mike [Mosley] and I along. Lonnie actually joined us one night, which was a thrill. Then, of course, I went to a ton of games: I watched the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Cubs—covered all of them. I’m certainly a Chicago sports fan now.
You worked with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum on The Vow. What was that like? JM: It was up there with one of my favorite experiences. I literally had just stepped off the boat from Australia when I was cast in the film, so it was all very surreal really. They were both so lovely and welcoming and just really good fun to be around. Also, [it was great] to work with Jessica Lange—what a legend—and Sam Neill, who is an honorary Aussie and someone who I grew up watching. I made some of my best friends on that shoot: Cassidy Lange, one of the producers, and Michael Sucsy, the director. They adopted me when I finally made the move to the USA.
Who do you dream of working with in the future? JM: Oh gosh—different people for different things. Directors would be the Coen brothers, Baz Luhrmann, Sofia Coppola, Guy Ritchie. In terms of comedy, I’d love to be involved in anything with Judd Apatow or Will Ferrell. I am a huge fan of great comedy: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd—basically the entire cast of Anchorman. Also Denis [Leary] and Bob Fisher in anything they do. I am going to keep the list of men that I’d like to do love scenes with very close to my chest...besides it is too long for this article.
You’ve been in horror movies, dramas, and now a comedy show. Which genre do you enjoy the most? JM: I don’t know—it’s very confusing! I think I’d have to say comedy. I have had a blast shooting Sirens, [even though] I am not the best at keeping a straight face. I spend a lot of time having to redo takes because the [other cast members] make me laugh. Moral of the story: working on a job where you have to laugh all day certainly beats one where you have to cry all day.