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Charlie Barnett discusses Chicago Fire in this Exclusive Interview ahead of the Home Entertainment release

09 October 2013

No job is more stressful, dangerous or exhilarating than those of the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics of Chicago Firehouse 51. These are the courageous men and women who forge headfirst into danger when everyone else is running the other way. But the enormous responsibilities of the job also take a personal toll.

Already renewed for a second season on Sky Living, the compelling hit series gives an up-close and personal view into the lives of everyday heroes, following the adventures of the men and women of Chicago Firehouse 51. In their hands lies the power to make a difference between life and death!

Charlie Barnett talks about his role in the hit series, the importance of shooting in Chicago and what drew him to the role...


What do you think makes Chicago Fire unique?

I want to say, and I hope the audience agrees with me, that it’s the cast. It’s the cast and the crew – everything involved behind the scenes and in front of the camera. The connection we all have as a group is, I think, what’s working because you can have the explosions, the excitement and all of that stuff but you really need more than that – a strong character base that people can connect to is really important. It’s a world that draws people in and that makes it more interesting.


In a way the show is about a surrogate family, isn’t it?

Yes it is and I can relate to that because of how we as a cast came from all these different places and were put in Chicago together as a unit. Chicago does, of course, have connections to the entertainment industry but it’s all on its own so we had to kind of figure it out for ourselves. We were surrounded by all these firefighters and put into that family. Cops, firefighters and most government officials in service at least have to find that balance between their brothers and work, just finding that connection, trust and respect. It’s what we are defined by ultimately having to live that life on screen.


Did the fact Chicago Fire is so character-based appeal to you?

[Laughs] When I was coming in to audition it appealed to me simply because it was a job – a huge job! But Peter Mills, the character I play, fits me very well. We’re very similar and in any kind of TV show the further you go on the more parts of yourself begin to bleed into the character; the two fuse together which is really interesting. What drew me in was the blend of excitement, family and intimacy as well as the fact that anything could happen at any point- it’s risky.


Peter’s a rookie firefighter and this is your first big role. Can you relate to him in that way?

Absolutely, there have been many times I’ve realised I’m sitting off-camera and talking to one of the cast mates or crew members and feeling it mirrors what Peter is going through – having to figure out how he fits into the group and having to figure out how I, Charlie Barnett fit within this group of actors, crew and producers. It’s scary sometimes.


How is it working for Dick Wolf?

Dick cast me in my first job, just a couple of months after I left school, on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999- 2013) and then after that I did a Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001- 2011). I hadn’t met him but I felt very attuned to him. I had a great deal of respect for the man, so when I did get to meet him there was a lot of excitement; he’s a powerful man when you meet him.