Interview with Eamonn Walker and David Eigenberg of “Chicago Fire” on NBC by Suzanne 3/23/21
These guys were a lot of fun to speak with. I interviewed David back in 2016 as well. I hope you enjoy this short interview as much as I did!
Here is the video version of it.
David: We have some good Fires coming up. Boden’s gonna hop up on the front lines and steal things from me.
Question: So, David, you’re alluding to the fact that the cast gets just as impatient as the fans, as far as Brett and Casey, just move this train long.
David: Yeah, I mean, I find it interesting that their characters are so, you know, distressed at times about things, and you root for them in a certain way, and but their characters are very specific. Some people in life can’t pull the trigger, so to speak, in a amicable loving way, but it’s an interesting scenario. I’ve had friends like that, and I’m a “jump in” guy. I met my wife, Mary, I was 38, but I knew I was gonna marry her when I met her. She didn’t.
Question: What about for Boden?
Eamonn: Boden’s glad to be getting out of the office and getting some action, because Severide and Jesse’s character have been turning around and making out that he’s some old firefighter now. So, he’s grateful to be getting out there all of a sudden, whether I take it from David’s character or not. I don’t know about that, but there’s a lot of Boden in his office, and it’s about time that he came out of it.
You know, there’s the episode that went out recently with Mouch and Boden having a moment together to recognize how long they’ve been firefighters for. That moment really touched me, and I’m saying I would like more of that, because that experience is one of the things that I find grounds not only the show, but grounds to all of the characters, that these people have been doing it for a long time. Christian [Stolte] did that great speech, which really moved me when he was doing it, and I was in the room. He was saying, “They were looking at me. Most of the time, I feel invisible, because of my age, because of this, whatever, and there were these young guys that were looking at me and listening to me.” And I was like, “Right. I really feel that,” and I would like more of that with he and I. So, I’m putting that out so the writers can hear that.
Question: I’ll forward the little tidbit along to him. Make sure they get the message.
Eamonn: Thank you.
Question: This feeds right into what you were talking about. So, both of you have been on this show, is it eight years now?
Question: Nine, I mean, almost a decade
Question: So, I’m sure you have some shorthand with each other in this that you feel sort of comfortable in your character in a certain sort of way, but is it still really challenging to you, as an actor, to find new facets of your character to put out to the audience?
Eamonn: I don’t know if we look at it as in terms of putting it out for the audience, because that’s the showrunner’s job, but what we do find with each other is we challenge each other at work in a way that you’ll never you’ll never get to see it. So, David will come up to me, or I’ll go up to him – and, you know, we were having a discussion yesterday. We really want the scenes to work. We really want the scenes to matter, the length and the depth of the subject matter, of all different subject matters that can be held within the fire department. We’re still challenging each other to be the best we can be, and the fact that we are doing that nine years later, it speaks speaks volumes. So, the audience will never get to see that, but I can guarantee you that when we’re in the middle of a scene and David has got that look in his eye, I’ll turn around and go, “Go again.” He’ll go, “Really?” [I’ll] go, “Yeah, go again.” And you’ll go, “Right. Claire, one more.” That tells me who we are, and that’s nine years in.
David: Yeah, we all do play deeply off of each other. I was working with Joe [Minoso] yesterday, and what Eamonn says also goes for us, but there’s just a thing that we all want each other to succeed. There’s no pettiness here, and not that there’s a lot of that in this industry, but there is really a will for all of us to succeed and do well.
And the characters, you know, we’ve been aging on the show. Like there aren’t a ton of shows a go long distance. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been aging in dog ears here, the weather and stuff, but I think that the writers have changed some of the writing from time to time, or we see it differently sometimes, and I find myself making adjustments into it, and that does keep it interesting for me.
Eamonn: The thing is, we care. We care about each other, and we care about the job still because of the love of the people that are here and the family that we have. So, that’s never going to go away. I know that now.
Question: We have found new respect for first responders, and you guys have been on this show for so long. How did the pandemic hit you in terms of, you know, as characters who understand more about these first responders, and how was it getting back into it while we’re in the pandemic? Did [you have] any new experiences and new stories, any new feelings?
David: I don’t know if it’s tied into the fact that first responders, the real ones, they have a vulnerability. I mean, they’re throwing themselves right out there and into it. And this is not a statistical reality, but there’ve been quite a few real firefighters in healthy shape that have gotten hammered by COVID, and I wouldn’t say they’re long haulers, but they’ve gotten hit pretty hard. And you – appreciate it’s not the right word, but, you know, you respect the choices that they’ve made, the decisions in their lives, and the depth of the character that they have in reality to take care of people. This is a new reality and a new vulnerability. So, it impacts us as people to see them, to be around them, and to have compassion for them, because some of them have been taking it on the nose. So, I don’t know if that answers you completely, but that’s something that we’ve been around and with.
Eamonn: For me, when it first hit – we’ve been living with it for a year now, and so we’ve all gone through the emotions of COVID and learning to live with it. On one level, we’ve all got kind of emotional, mental fatigue of being with it. But when it first hit, I don’t know if you remember the worry and the fear of not knowing what the hell this was or how it was going to impact our lives. None of us thought we’d be here a year down the line, but because of our relationship with these first responders, and that’s police, firefighters, [and] paramedics, we knew that they still had to do their job. We knew they would still go and do their jobs because of the type of men and women that they are.
So, when we closed down, and we all went home, there was a certain amount of safety for us as actors, but the people who work with us on the show who were firefighters and policemen and paramedics, we knew they would be going out there in the middle of COVID.
So, I know, for me, I was worried; I didn’t know who I was going to see again, and that impacted me a lot. So, when we came back in September after however long off, I was grateful to see people who I knew who had been going. I also had been reading a lot and knowing that some firefighters and first responders were getting sick; I knew some had died. I was grateful to the people that we had come to know and love over the years that we’ve been doing this work [with] were still here, but we’ve lost some people along the way.
So, yeah, it’s changed everything. Our lives are all going to be very different. There’s no two ways about it. Whatever we consider to be normal is not going to be normal again. We know that now, but we’re very grateful that we were able to come back and work, but life isn’t going back to what we think it’s going to be. It’s going to be new.
Suzanne: Hey, guys. I went on all of the Chicago P.D., Med, Fire Facebook groups that had over a thousand people; you guys are so popular. I asked if anyone had any questions, and I got a lot, but Christy wants to know what your least and favorite things are about working in Chicago.
David: I’ve always loved this [city]. This is a scrappy city, and it has a lot of grit, and I highly value it. There’s weather here; it’s a tough city. I spent 25 years of my life in New York City. My family’s roots are all from New York City, and it’s another tough city, but Chicago has a grit that’s very different than New York even. There’s a beautiful part of their hearts and their souls that you get to be among and with, and my life now is in Chicago. My kids are Chicago kids, and I love being here…
Eamonn: Yeah, it’s just the people; the people make Chicago. So, I’m saying the same thing as David is saying; it’s got everything here. It’s got the food; it’s got the music. It’s got blues. It’s got all of that kind of stuff, but every other city has that, but it’s the nature of Chicago people that makes Chicago. They’re straightforward people. They say what they mean.
David: I’m not a hater, so there’s nothing I really hate. There’re things that are harder in this town, but every city has its own ups and downs, but there’s nothing to really hate here. You know, there’s certain elements of humanity that I don’t appreciate or even sometimes despise, but that’s not necessarily endemic in Chicago. There’s a great concern for humanity here. So I really appreciate it.
Eamonn: There’s an underbelly in Chicago that we all know about, and I know that the the media sometimes picks up on or just puts it out, and when I go back to London, I know that’s part of the stuff that they pick up on, but I know London really well. There’s an underbelly to London that will freak you out, and I come from that part of London. So, for me, there’s nothing unusual here. It’s all fantastic when you get to know the people, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and it’s the people that make Chicago.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Battalion Chief Wallace Boden, “Chicago Fire”
Eamonn Walker stars as Battalion Chief Wallace Boden, a fireman’s fireman, in NBC’s drama “Chicago Fire.” As chief of the firehouse, it’s Boden’s job to look out for the lives of the men and women who are the courageous firefighters and paramedics of Firehouse 51.
Walker is a compelling performer known for his depth, integrity and ability to give life to the most layered of characters. He credits Sidney Poitier’s performance in “In the Heat of the Night” as the inspiration that led him to become an actor.
Born in London, he is perhaps best known in the United States for his portrayal of Kareem Said, the Muslim leader on the critically acclaimed HBO series “Oz.” His work on this show earned him a Golden Satellite nomination and a Cable Ace Award for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series.
On the big screen, Walker received stand-out notices for his performance as Howlin Wolf in “Cadillac Records,” opposite Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def and Beyoncé Knowles. He also has given memorable performances in such films as “The Messenger,” opposite Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton; “Lord of War,” opposite Nicholas Cage and Ethan Hawke; “Duma,” Carroll Ballard’s critically acclaimed film; “Tears of the Sun,” opposite Bruce Willis; Laurence Fishburne’s “Once in the Life;” the psychological thriller “Legacy;” and M. Night Shamaylan’s “Unbreakable.”
Moving seamlessly between film and television, his numerous TV credits include the NBC series “Kings,” the Jerry Bruckheimer series “Justice” and the award-winning BBC series “Moses Jones.” He portrayed a modern-day John Othello in the BAFTA and Peabody Award-winning adaptation of London Weekend Television’s “Othello” and Tom Fontana invited Walker to portray the sympathetic killer in the “Homicide” finale, the two-hour teleplay “Homicide: Life Everlasting.”
Other credits include a special arc on “Lights Out,” “ER,” and the miniseries “The Governor” and “Supply and Demand.” He also appeared in the BBC’s groundbreaking Martin Shaw series “Inspector George Gently” and the Cinemax series “Strike Back.”
Walker was nominated in 2005 for a Drama Desk Award for his Broadway debut as Marc Antony, alongside Denzel Washington and Colm Feore, in “Julius Caesar” at the Belasco Theatre. He later performed to sold-out audiences as the first black actor to portray Othello at the historic Old Globe Theatre in London.
Walker co-founded the Flipside Theatre Company in London and starred in their production of “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.” He also appeared in London’s West End and in plays on such venerable stages as the Citizens Theatre, the Royal Exchange and the Hampstead Theatre.
Walker starred in Chicago’s famous Steppenwolf Theatre for the company’s 2016 premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Walker was nominated for a 2016 Jeff Award, which celebrates excellence in Chicago Theatre, in the category of Best Actor in a Principal Role. The same year he also won the Black Theater Alliance Sidney Poitier Award for the same play performed at Steppenwolf Theatre in the Best Actor in a Drama or Comedy category.
Walker resides in both Los Angeles and London.
Christopher Herrmann, “Chicago Fire”
Eigenberg is known to film and television audiences for his former role as Steve Brady, the good-hearted husband and quintessential New York bar owner in the Emmy Award-winning series “Sex and the City.”
His film credits include “See You in September,” “The Trouble with Romance,” “The Mothman Prophecies” and “A Perfect Murder.”
Eigenberg’s selected television credits include “Justified,” “Criminal Minds,” “N.C.I.S.” and “Law & Order: SVU.”
A member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, Eigenberg has performed in numerous Off Broadway plays. On Broadway, he received his break in 1990 playing a hustler in the original cast of John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” directed by Jerry Zaks at Lincoln Center. He also starred in the original cast of “Take Me Out,” directed by Joe Mantello, which was awarded the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Drama League and New York Critics Awards for Best Play.
Eigenberg served in the United States Marine Corps for three years. He is married and living in Chicago with his wife and two children.
From renowned Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order” brand) and co-creator Derek Haas, the writer behind “3:10 to Yuma,” comes season nine of the high-octane drama “Chicago Fire,” an edge-of-your-seat view look at the lives of everyday heroes committed to one of America’s noblest professions. The firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51 risk their lives week in and week out to save and protect the citizens of their incredible city.
The family inside Firehouse 51 knows no other way than to lay it all on the line for each other. Capt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) leads the Truck Company and brash Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) runs the Rescue Squad.
The firehouse also includes Battalion Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker), a fireman’s fireman. As chief of 51, Boden keeps his house running smoothly and his firefighters prepared to overcome all adversity. Paramedic Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) returns alongside seasoned veterans Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) and Randy “Mouch” McHolland (Christian Stolte) as well as resourceful firefighter Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo).
Completing the team are dependable squad member Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso), daredevil Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende), engine newbie Darren Ritter (Daniel Kyri) and the newest addition, paramedic Gianna Mackey (Adriyan Rae).
Executive producers are Dick Wolf, Derek Haas, Todd Arnow, Andrea Newman, Michael Gilvary, Michael Brandt, Reza Tabrizi, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski.
“Chicago Fire” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Wolf Entertainment.
Please visit the official show site at: https://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire
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Proofread and Edited by Brenda