While shows like Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire are keeping us on the edge of our seats, another Chicago-based show is giving us a comedic spin on the fast-paced, everyday lives of first responders—USA’s Sirens, which follows a group of hilarious Windy City EMTs. To gear up for season two (which premieres tomorrow at 10 p.m.), we visited the Chicago set as the cast and crew, led by executive producers Denis Leary and Bob Fisher, shot the new episodes. In between alternating serious and hilarious takes, we caught up with the cast to talk about filming in the city, their favorite off-duty haunts, and what actual first responders think of the show.
“The people of Chicago, to live through that f---ing cold that you guys do, and then the heat...people out here are just badasses, and I think there’s something very attractive about it,” says Michael Mosley, who plays Johnny on the show.
Adds Kevin Bigley, who plays Brian, “There’s this thing that Hollywood does I think, where a lot of their characters...[are] from Chicago. It has this greatness and a niche to it, and when you shoot in this city it kind of has this personality. It’s really another character of the show.” Plus, “It’s like New York with less of an opinion,” he says.
Josh Segarra, who plays Billy on Sirens, also had a recurring role as Justin Voight on Chicago P.D. “It’s cool to be in a town like this that has Chicago P.D. and [Chicago] Fire and Sirens, and of course now all the other shows that are shooting here,” he says. “But P.D. and Fire kind of started it here, [and] Chicago now has something to wrap [its] arms around. I’ve worked on P.D. and I got to see the way the city has embraced them. I’m excited for the city to embrace us a little more.”
“I’m a huge sports fan, [and] I’ve got my die-hard teams, but it’s awesome to come to a sports town like this,” says Segarra. “I’ve adopted all the Chicago teams. I wear a White Sox hat, I wear a Cubs hat, I wear a Blackhawks hat...I love it.”
But it’s not all about sports. “The food kills me. I’ve gained like 12 pounds, and that’s rough...I’ve had pizza 30 times; I feel like I’m a pizza connoisseur now.” His favorite pizza? “I love Lou Malnati’s. It’s unreal.”
Jessica McNamee, an Australian transplant who plays Theresa on the show, had limited exposure to Chicago before joining Sirens. “I’d been out here once before. [Chicagoans] like their sports and they like drinking, so that’s kind of what had been my experience of Chicago, and when I came back it continued to be my experience,” she says.
Aside from that, she’s spent her Windy City time exploring and hanging out with the rest of the cast. “I’ve got a bucket list that I’ve been ticking off,” she says. “I’ve been trying to get to all of the restaurants along Randolph [in] the West Loop, which has been great. But generally, we stick to our area, which is downtown, so we frequent Sweetwater a lot. And I really like the blues and jazz scene here, so [I’ve] had some nights at Kingston Mines and at The Backroom as well.”
As far as working in Chicago goes, McNamee is all for it. “I like being in Chicago because you can come to work and do your thing and really enjoy that, and [then] switch off when you go home, and not have to be surrounded by people in the industry the whole time,” she says. “L.A. [is] completely industry-based and industry-driven, and that can be exhausting, so I love being out here knowing that I can switch off and go home and not have to talk about [work] and think about it too much.”
“We got to sing the seventh inning stretch at the Cubs game; that was spectacular,” says Kevin Daniels, who plays Hank on the show. In fact, when the guys found out they were getting that chance, “We just stared at the table like little kids,” Bigley says.
And it only got more surreal once they were in the stadium. “You’re watching the game and it’s the sixth inning, and we’re all just quiet and we looked around at each other, and we [were] all losing our s---. ‘Oh my god, we’re gonna go out there and do this?’” Bigley says.
“It’s great,” Daniels says. “We did ride-alongs this year..I was like, ‘We just want to get a feel for what you guys really say and what you guys really do. I mean, we [have] BFAs; you [have to] teach [us] a little bit.”
Adds Mosley, “They like the show, and I’m just fascinated by what they do...and how calm they are, and their relationship with adrenaline.”
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF USA NETWORK/JEAN WHITESIDE
November 15, 2018