'Chicago Fire': Eamonn Walker on Life-Altering, Split-Second Decisions and the Aftermath
"The truth of the matter is, Boden feels everything," the actor tells THR of his character's decision to let a man die in a dangerous buiding fire.
The high stakes of firefighting hit a peak in the latest episode of Chicago Fire, which finds one of its own in the middle of a potential legal dispute.
After making an executive decision to save his men's lives over the life of a civilian, Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) is threatened with a possible lawsuit from the victim's distraught family members. "What this episode is going to let you in on is what a deputy chief does," Walker says to The Hollywood Reporter.
He adds: "The decisions are not all black and white to do what they do."
Walker talked to THR about Wednesday's big episode, how this will affect Boden moving forward and the most challenging scene to film.
The Hollywood Reporter: What was the last scene you shot?
Eamonn Walker: The scene I just shot was with Cruz (Joe Minoso), who has made a crucial decision between him and his family and Chief Boden is unaware of it. Boden comes in to give him praise for a brave piece of firemanship, and come across this other thing that he's feeling. This is Boden's first proper scene where they are in a room talking so it was a fantastic scene.
THR: Chicago Fire has a big ensemble cast. Was there a particular dynamic or relationship Chief Boden has that you were surprised by?
Walker: I don't know if surprised is the right word. Because I play the chief, everyone has to come by me and I am the paternal figure. It's a dysfunctional family, I feel like, and everyone's got their individual way of going about stuff. When I'm talking with the girls, Lauren German (Leslie Shay) and Monica Raymond (Gabriela Dawson), on the odd occasion -- there's a few scenes where I've told them off -- I really enjoy those scenes. I never really want to tell them off, even when I'm telling them off we all know that Boden doesn't want to. It's different for him with the guys; it's full on because they're endangering people's lives.
THR: In this week's episode, Chief Boden finds himself in a bind after he makes the difficult decision not to let his men go back into a buring fire to save a man still in the structure. (Watch the scene here.) That will prove to be a big challenge for Boden to overcome as he deals with the repercussions of leaving a man to die. Can you speak to his latest obstacle?
Walker: What this episode is going to let you in on is what a deputy chief does. A deputy chief's job is to make the call based on the building, the amount of smoke and fire, how it operates and judge [whether or not to send] men into a burning building that could fall and collapse at any given point.
THR: Boden's priorities are his men, it seems.
Walker: As actors, we've begged and prodded every person we could possibly get any information. It's hard, sometimes, to get any information because it's like getting blood out of a stone. The decisions are not all black and white to do what they do. It takes a special person to run into a fire instead of running away from it.
THR: The scene between Boden and the Chicago attorney as she's interrogating him on his executive decision is quite tense. She goes through the motions, saying the city is behind him even though it doesn't feel that way. At one point, Boden declares that he "doesn't care." Can you speak to that moment?
Walker: She's a political animal. [That scene illustrates] why you give that man that job. She walks that line; she's the voice that if you're going to sue the fire department, you have to talk to. Boden is trying to make her understand the decision he's making is actually easier for her to deal with -- that that man lost his life through smoke inhalation -- versus the three or four firemen, had Boden not called them out of the building. She would've had to have faced that. Somebody was going to die.
THR: Does the aftermath affect Boden moving forward?
Walker: Of course it does. He's a human being. The truth of the matter is, Boden feels everything. He doesn't show it. You have to look for it. There are little windows into Boden, where you get to see that. It's normally when he's alone or with his best friend out of the company.
THR: What was the toughest scene to film in this episode?
Walker: The toughest to shoot is when I'm looking in the eyes of Peter (Charlie Barnett), a young, healthy, strapping man who feels like Superman and he feels like he can go into the building and save everybody -- because he has youth. To look that man in his eye and deny him the chance to use his training and say, "No you can't go back in," based on Boden's experience and because he will lose his life. Very quickly after, a couple of seconds after Boden makes that decision, the building blows up. He knows in that instance that he would have died.
Chicago Fire airs 10 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC.
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