By Emma Sarran Webster | November 7, 2017 | People
As Chicago Fire continues on with its sixth season, it’s hard to imagine a time when Dick Wolf’s drama *wasn’t* a fixture of the Windy City entertainment scene. In fact, the same goes for Fire’s younger siblings, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med, in their fifth and third seasons, respectively. All three shows—which film at North Lawndale's Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and on-location around the city—have breathed new life into Chicago’s TV industry, and the casts and crew who came from other cities have become Chicagoans in their own right.
We got the chance to see the stars in their element at Cinespace for NBC’s “One Chicago” day and talk to them about their life in Chicago, the evolution of the shows, and more. See what they had to say, ahead.
“I hadn't been here before I moved here for the show; I never visited Chicago. Now I'm going on my sixth year here. I know all the restaurant spots—it's kind of my jam. Everybody asks me whenever their parents come, 'Mon, where should we go for dinner?' I think Avec is my favorite. I also really like Duck Duck Goat. [...] And the music scene is awesome. I always find new music, and I go listen to blues and jazz all the time. The Jazz Showcase [is] the best jazz club in Chicago.” -Monica Raymund, who plays Gabriela Dawson on Chicago Fire
“I like the Old Town School of [Folk] Music. [...] That place is great. They have all these acts come through from all over the world, like different folky music. It’s just a great mish mash of styles, and musicians, and smaller stuff that you never get to see. [...] Chicago has so much of that stuff.” -Jesse Spencer, who plays Matthew Casey on Chicago Fire
“I had only taken maybe two short trips to Chicago in my life before this job, so there wasn't much that was not new information. I didn't know, on the positive side, that such amazing food culture is here. I didn't know I was going to get to witness a World Series win, and how passionate the fans are.” -Rachel DiPillo, who plays Sarah Reese on Chicago Med
“My parents were actually in town the other day and we did the architectural [boat] tour again; which is one of the coolest things that I've ever been able to do with people, just because there's no other city that you can see like that, from the inside out. And seeing the evolution of architectural movements...to see it be built up through these different decades of architectural movements—it's amazing. So I was reminded of how cool that was and how cool the city is. I love this city. And don't get me started on restaurants at this point—it's become a fulltime job to work off my meals. Maude's [Liquor Bar] has become a go-to date night spot for my wife and I. ” -Colin Donnell, who plays Connor Rhodes on Chicago Med
“I did the architecture tour, too, with my mom and it was amazing. It's a cool city; it really is. And I've never been here before, so it's been really cool to get to explore it, and the music scene, and the pizza—the pizza [is] so good. People are really friendly. It's just a great town.” -Norma Kuhling, who plays Ava Bekker on Chicago Med
“Miranda [Rae Mayo] and I have taken to spinning at [the] new Cyclebar on Halsted and Lake. That's my jam. [...] I was doing Jillian Michaels DVDs, but this is a fun way to meet new people and it makes you sweat. It's good music, and Marina Squerciati does it with us sometimes, so it's a fun thing to look over and see your girlfriends [who] you're working with working out.” -Kara Killmer, who plays Sylvie Brett on Chicago Fire
Miranda Rae Mayo and Yuri Sardarov
“[I’ve discovered] a bunch of different coffee shops. [...] Wormhole Coffee on Milwaukee is incredible.” -Miranda Rae Mayo, who plays Stella Kidd on Chicago Fire
“[I’ve discovered] the neighborhoods. You tend to travel a lot more than you used to because you want to get to know the neighborhoods that surround you, and the various ethnic groups that are around you, and diversity—and that comes directly with some great food. So [I love] everything that has to do with getting to know the Chicagoans. I didn't realize how the pockets are so specific in Chicago. And that's different [than] New York or California, so I think I'm enjoying that a lot more than I thought I would.” -Marlyne Barrett, who plays Maggie Lockwood on Chicago Med
S. Epatha Merkerson
“I grew up in the Midwest; I grew up in Detroit, so Chicago is not that different for me. I call it a miniature New York because everything I can do in New York, I can do here. It's a little cheaper, it's not as dense, it's a Midwestern mentality which I grew up in—which means it's kinder—[and] there are alleys, so there's no trash.” -S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med
“I love going to restaurants. [...] I love Momotaro a lot. And in my neighborhood, there’s a restaurant called Gather that's really, really wonderful.” -Amy Morton, who plays Trudy Platt on Chicago P.D.
“I'm a big comedy fan, so I go to iO a lot [and] I go to Annoyance Theatre once in awhile.” -Christian Stolte, who plays Randall McHolland, or Mouch, on Chicago Fire
“I think we try to see what's happening in real life, in Chicago and elsewhere, and then just try to find a way to turn that into a compelling crime story [and] tell that story through the lenses of our various characters. There's no formal process. It's like, ‘Oh, that's a cool story. How do we make it a Chicago P.D. story?’ and then we start thinking about it and find something hopefully that clicks in. Like the first episode of the year that Eriq [La Salle] directed, [“Reform”], we tried to make it about how hard it is to be a cop in Chicago these days. It's always been a hard job, but these days with some of the racial tension, the federal involvement in the Chicago P.D.,...and we just wanted to tell an honest story.” -Rick Eid, Chicago P.D. showrunner
“I'm proud to be part of a show that wants to do that. I think it's important to talk about what's happening all around and not turn a blind eye to it. And I think that the show is putting everything on the table and making it a conversation, and I think it's important and I’m happy to be a part of it.” -Tracy Spiridakos, who plays Hailey Upton on Chicago P.D.
“I love that. And it's timely. [...] What I think is good about this is that we can show different viewpoints and let other people kind of hopefully open up their minds to other ways of looking at things, and we have greater understanding of each other, and that's television worth making. It makes me happy to go to work for that reason.” Jason Beghe, who plays Hank Voight on Chicago P.D.
“I like that we're showing the grey areas, and no one’s a hero and no one’s an evil person. I think it’s important now; there’s so much going on in Chicago—to ignore that is foolish.” -Marina Squerciati, who plays Kim Burgess on Chicago P.D.
“It can be a little nerve wracking sometimes, when we first take a look at the scripts. But our producers and our showrunner are incredibly amenable to both our input and our questions...so by the end of it, by the end of several ongoing conversations, it becomes rewarding. [...] Anything worth doing is tough to do sometimes.” -Patrick Flueger, who plays Adam Ruzek on Chicago P.D.
“Rewarding is a perfect word, especially after we've done our best to make sure that we get to share the voices of the people we represent in an authentic way. The hardest thing about tackling issues that the world knows about, especially with a city like Chicago that has a strong enough stigma on its own, you don’t want to misrepresent anything. And as an artist you want to give it as much truth as you possibly can. [...] We do our best to make sure we tell the most authentic story that we can, given the circumstances that we're given. Sometimes a lot of stuff is above our pay grade—we don't pick the stories personally as actors, but they trust us with the stories. And it's our job to breathe a true life into them, an authentic life into them, and I think we've been doing a pretty good job of that.” -LaRoyce Hawkins, who plays Kevin Atwater on Chicago P.D.
“We used to come here to shoot ER but we'd just come for just seasonal things. It’s great that you have another city to tell stories in that's very specific to give you certain texture. New York has its texture, L.A. has its texture, Toronto has its (almost) texture. For the film industry to come here, and [the] television industry to come here, it's exciting. And obviously the way that Dick Wolf is doing it is unheard of, to launch this type of franchise that keeps growing. And there's great crews here, so you get to discover new talents, new voices, new textures. And...what makes this show special is that it is Chicago. That's why Chicago is in every title. -Eriq La Salle, Chicago P.D. Executive Producer
“I remember when we started, Kelsey Grammar was doing a show, Boss, [and] it was ending. And then Jason Clarke was doing The Chicago Code and that got cancelled. So we're coming in, and maybe a movie like a Superman or a Transformers came through for a couple weeks, but there [were] no roots. And with the [Cinespace] stages here, I think we were the first ones to put up the interior stages; and to look and see where we started and what it is now—Fox is doing a show, Empire, and ABC did a show...and you look at just how many people have come to the city through either L.A. or New York for productions, and how great it's been for the city, the local economy, the people, all the unions. It’s been really great and now it's huge.” -Taylor Kinney, who plays Kelly Severide on Chicago Fire
“I work on the Universal lot, and this studio is busier than Universal Studios. It's crazy.” -Derek Haas, Chicago Fire Executive Producer
“I haven't personally [heard from anyone], but I know some of the other cast has said that they have. And one of the things that's noticeable to [cops] is how we handle ourselves—how we've been trained to handle a weapon, and how to clear a room. [...] That’s the one thing, from what I understand and what I've heard, that they said—that a lot of police officers feel that it's very realistic in how it's done. And I think all that goes to Brian Luce, who's the tech advisor on the show. He's an amazing person, and he's very so valuable to have on your side learning how to play these characters.” -Tracy Spiridakos
“You become friends with them. A lot of our background guys, or extras, are firefighters; and you get an easy rapport. Because we're doing our best to replicate and tell these stories, and they're huge assets. [...] Derek [Haas] and our showrunners have done a great job of letting us have access to that, so we're doing our best to do right by the job [and] to tell these stories.” -Taylor Kinney
“There's nothing better when they tell us we got something right. That's the best. And it's usually the heartwarming stuff. Because most firefighters, they really are heroes. They really are running into buildings that other people are running out of. And so just to represent that and...there were so many cop shows before we started, so the fact that we got to do a show that's all firefighters’ lives is rewarding.” -Derek Haas
The cast of Chicago Fire.
“I never would have thought, starting on Fire, it would turn into this. So it's amazing to see it grow and see all the different actors come in to play, and different shows. I think it’s really unique and it's a special thing to be a part of.” -Jon Seda, who plays Antonio Dawson on Chicago P.D.
“What has been great about this season specifically, there’s actually less incident work. There’s not as many big fires, and they've really started to focus more on a lot of character and a lot of relationship stuff, in more ways than just your classic romantic relationships. For me personally, that's been amazing.” -Joe Minoso, who plays Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ELIZABETH MORRIS, PARRISH LEWIS, & MATT DINERSTEIN FOR NBC
March 22, 2018