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Interview with Colin Donnell and Joe Minoso of Chicago Med and Chicago Fire

I had the pleasure of chatting with Colin Donnell (Connor Rhodes) and Joe Minoso (Cruz) about the upcoming 3-way crossover event between Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD. Be sure to tune in Tuesday, January 5 to NBC - 9/8c to 11/10c and Wednesday January 6 at 10/9c! What follows is a quick summary of some of the questions and their answers. A full transcript will be available in the next day or so – please keep a look out! Both were terrific to speak to, although a bit hard to hear due to calling in from the Phoenix airport!

Q: What does the crossover mean?

CD: It’s an amazing feat of logistics to bring together three casts of three busy shows. It’s a little more work for everybody, but so worth it to give fans the ability to unify all three shows. It’s really unprecedented on television today.

Q: Will you be live tweeting?

JM: I’ll live tweet if possible, but I may not make it back to Chicago in time.

CD: I’ll look over his shoulder and steal his tweets! (laughter)

Q: Cruz is in an emotionally precarious place. How will this play out for him going forward?

JM: It will weigh on him heavily. Any time you introduce someone to your group, you hope it will go well. No one thought it would get so volatile with Freddy. For it to happen to Herman of all people, who is the heart of 51, just made it that much worse.

Q: Were there any challenges in filming these episodes? Weather-wise, etc?

JM: Can I take this one Colin? It’s been awesome! Because of Chicago Med we get to hang out indoors instead of freezing our butts off outside! They’re so hospitable over there that we’re warm on the outside and warm on the inside because there’s so much love there.

Q: For Colin – was there more or less medical jargon in these episodes?

CD: There’s a bit. One line kept screwing me up and it took five or six takes to get it. I don’t remember if it was in the Fire or Med episode…

JM: It was in the Fire portion. You had to walk in and deliver some news. By the fifth or sixth take, I was saying it with you, but I never got it! Kudos to Colin!

Q: Was helping Freddy in part a way for Cruz to atone for what happened when he left the other gang member in the fire?

JM: That’s a very philosophical question! In terms of Cruz, he dealt with that in a very personal way. He had to protect his brother and himself because they were coming after them. It’s a reality of his neighborhood culture because you never know what will set it off. There was a lot of controversy among the writers at the time over that storyline. There’s a really beautiful confessional scene. Freddy was just a way for Cruz to really help people get out.

Q: Will we see Rhodes and Halstead come to blows?

CD: They certainly have two opposing viewpoints on how they approach medicine. Things get a bit more aggressive over the next week.

Q: This is the new show on the block. What was your reaction to landing the role?

CD: I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of such a cool universe. I was a little familiar with the shows, but when I got the part, my wife and I went back to Chicago Fire, season one, episode one and rewatched them all. I just got hooked. Every episode got me more excited to be involved.

JM: I’ve become such a fan of Chicago Med! So exciting and it’s an awesome experience watching this family grow.

Q: Cruz has had it really rough lately. Where would you like to see Cruz go next?

JM: Hopefully on a vacation! (laughter) It has been a crazy year for him and I couldn’t be happier. I also got to do more stunt work, which is awesome! I’m enjoying the meaty dialogue. The writers are on a whole new level. It’s so innovative and exciting bringing the three shows together in this way.

Q: Colin, it’s great to see you back on tv. Which has been your favorite medical case so far?

CD: It’s one you haven’t seen yet! The episode that dealt with the shooting in the theater was one of my favorite episodes, so far. Whit it had to say and did say was very powerful. These are the kinds of stories I’d like to be telling.

Q: Joe, you are making Cruz’s Zumba video workout. Out of all the cast members, who would be your back up Zumba dancer?

JM: Can I only choose one? Definitely Colin because he’s got mad moves! And Charlie Barnett!. I’d want Jesse and Christian in the background, pretending they knew what they were doing.

Q: Colin, how it going to play out with you and your dad?

CD: We’ve seen some of the Rhodes’ family history unfold. There will be more next week. All of the characters have a story, and that’s what makes these characters so good. You’re going to see why there’s so much animosity between the two, coming up.

Q: Joe, I heard you were shy and that’s just not true!

JM: I was very shy before I started acting. Acting helped me explore a lot of my own demons. My first girlfriend took me to see her in a play. I was so hooked, I went up and asked if they needed help backstage. Then I auditioned and I never looked back. It’s all I know how to do!

Q: You really capture the essence of Chicago.

JM: That’s the crew! Dick Wolf always said that Chicago was a character, and that’s all owed to the crew to make that character come alive.

Q: The camaraderie between you is obvious. Does that help a lot with the characters closeness on screen?

JM: I don’t know how we’ve been so lucky with everyone coming in. We’ve had no divas. All are true professionals who can still act like five year olds. We’re not afraid to be silly.

CD: I have to say, before coming in, I’d heard nothing but how nice everyone was, and I was prepared not to believe it. It sounded too good to be true. But it is! This crossover was my first opportunity to work with the other and Joe came up to me right away and personally walked me through and introduced me to everyone. I so appreciated the warm welcome when you’re just dropped in to this family.

Q: Do you work with a language coach on set?

JM: I’ve been in Chicago for twelve plus years, so whatever happens when I talk is just from being here. We do have a speech person on set who mainly works with Jesse and Eammon. The dialect coach was my dialect teacher when I was doing my Masters here in Chicago.

CD: Connor spent so long away, doing his degree in Mexico and so on, that he’s a bit of a special case. But I’m a mid-western kid from St Louis and I went to school in Indiana.

Q: What were your initial reactions to the crossover?

JM: It’s something bred into the thinking of the show from the beginning. Dick Wolf wanted to take a new look at how you do television. They’ve done a really exceptional job. It’s one and a half hours of tv – that’s as long as most movies!

CD: We knew it was coming but we were excited to see what kind of story it would be.

Q: What was the dynamic like with all three shows coming together?

CD: It was very welcoming. It’s what you need to really deliver a good performance. You see everyone across the board working so hard but so welcoming and it’s amazing to be a part of it.

Q: If there was a fourth show added, what would you want it to be?

JM: Chicago Sanitation! Something on politics or a law show.

Q: Are Law & Order: Special Victims Unit jealous not to be included?

JM: Haven’t heard from them… I’m a big fan of SVU, and I would like to work with them!

Q: Why are the burst of comedy between the drama so important in Chicago Fire?

JM: It’s especially important in Fire. Those real moments of levity, that’s how these people, real firefighters, work. They distract themselves from the seriousness of their job. It’s a relief from the atrocities they see. Fire takes advantage of us goofballs. It’s how real firefighters deal with stress.

Q: What would you like to see happen in the next crossover?

CD: Some really cool stuff coming up, not necessarily for Connor. I can’t give anything away, but the stories have just gotten better!

JM: I’m excited to see what the writers do with the next crossover. This is unchartered territory in the world of television.

This was the end of our time. Don’t forget to tune in to the three hour event airing this week! Chicago Fire at 9/8c and Chicago Med at 10/9c on NBC on Tuesday, January 5 and Chicago PD at 10/9c on NBC on Wednesday, January 6. Check back for the full transcript!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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