Jesse Spencer Opens Up About CHICAGO FIRE
On the heels of the news that Chicago Fire will be renewed for a third season, I had the opportunity to speak with Jesse Spencer (Lt. Matthew Casey) just before he headed out the door for a well-deserved hiatus.
Big Episodes Coming
I asked Spencer if he’d tease for viewers just a bit about what they might expect in remaining episodes of the season. “There’s a really big episode coming up,” he teased. “I think it’s Episode 20 or 21. It involves a terrorist attack sort of like the Boston bombing, and the gang gets in there and gets into the thick of it. It’s a crossover episode with Chicago P.D. as well. It’s really big.” The two episodes, “A Dark Day” and “8:30PM,” air first on April 29 and conclude with Chicago P.D. on April 30.
Spencer’s Favorite Episode
Spencer’s favorite episode to date, however, was Episode 17, “When Things Got Rough,” that aired on March 18. He told me, “I haven’t seen it, but my favorite is the story where the firefighters run into a building to save a family, and the father’s already saved them. It’s a true story. He was completely burned and didn’t survive. But he saved one or two kids and the mother, such a tragic loss. After his death, Casey has to go through every moment and explain to the mother what happened, and then he turns to the mother and tells her that was the bravest thing her husband could have done – to save his family. It was a really hard thing to play. Yeah, that was my favorite so far.”
Before shooting the pilot for the series, Spencer trained with firefighters at the Chicago Fire Academy. “But, it all kind of comes naturally now,” he said. “We have firefighters on the set all the time. They show us the ropes, but what we do is pretty simple. We don’t do the water lines or anything.”
Spencer continued, “Casey doesn’t give up. He falls down a lot, but he keeps getting back up.” And that tenacity is one of the things Spencer admires most about Casey. Asked what he’d change about the character, he said with a laugh, “I’d like to see him in a stable relationship. Of course, that’s probably never gonna happen. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a drama.”
Another drama Spencer has starred in was the FOX network’s House, where he played Dr. Robert Chase and co-starred with Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde. Chase and Casey are two completely different characters, and Spencer contrasted them by saying , “They’re at pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum I guess. On a medical show, it was very cerebral, analytical, hiding as much emotion as possible. With Chicago Fire, there’s much more emotional impact.”
Helping Others Through Music
Spencer still plays violin in The Band from TV (www.bandfromtv.org) with Laurie, and they continue to help charities worldwide. “I’ve been in Chicago and haven’t played much,” he confessed. “I did play the National Anthem on violin at a Cubs Game, which was really fun. And, I think the group might be playing Israel this year, if we can get the dates right.” Some of the charities Spencer and The Band have helped financially include Save the Children, the Lupus Foundation, and an Aids charity hospital in Kenya (Spencer’s charity of choice). “I think we’ve raised 2-3 million dollars by now,” he said. “It’s a nice thing to do, and it’s really fun.”
Walking in the Outback
When I asked how he’s going to spend his hiatus, Spencer said with a laugh, “I’m going to walk about in the Outback.”
Chicago Fire airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 10. The Season Finale airs May 13.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.