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It was a rough start to the season on Chicago Fire, but the loss of their unborn baby seems to have led Dawson (Monica Raymund) and Casey (Jesse Spencer) to somewhat solid ground. After getting together and breaking up countless times in the NBC drama’s first few seasons, the couple have found stability in the wake of tragedy. The timing couldn’t be better since Casey is getting ready to run for office and with Dawson back at 51 after her brief reassignment to arson.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Raymund to discuss how the “mourning” process fans haven’t seen, how Dawson will handle Casey’s political ambitions and finding Dawson’s “identity” as a firefighter.
That was such a huge storyline for your character to go through. Did you always know that she was going to lose the baby? What kind of discussions did you have with the writers?
We had a conversation because I was like, “Please don’t let me be pregnant on this show because I’m having so much fun on fire truck.” I really like hanging with the guys. I like being an active action hero. It was really important to me. So I was like what’s going to happen? You don’t have to tell me the end, but am I doing this pregnancy? And they’re like, “No, do not worry. You’re not going to be pregnant for too long.” I said, “I don’t know what that means but it’s making me happy because no one wants to be pregnant for too long.” But on a show, dealing with a fake bump, it’s kind of a headache.
Casey and Dawson are finally stable after so many seasons of being on and off. How has it been for you as an actress to explore that relationship on solid ground?
It’s great. I like being in a stable relationship. You get to focus on other aspects of your life. And also, I think it gives Dawson and Casey a chance to really re-explore their trust in each other. A lot of people ask me all the time, “Well, is there going to be a wedding? Do you feel pressure to get married?” And the truth is no. I know that this is a very procedural show, and a lot of storylines move in and out very quickly, but as an actor, I really try to hold onto that baby storyline between him and myself because the truth is you don’t get over grief that quickly. It still is with you. It’s with you for the rest of your life. And so in the wake of that, it seems very inauthentic or forced to be talking about a wedding. You may not see it on the show all the time, but when they go home and they shut the door and they’re in bed together, I’m positive they talk about this. They probably talk about their loss or they cry every now and then, or they may be seeing somebody for it. So I think that the stability is actually an opportunity to sort of enrich the relationship.
Why do you think now is the right time to keep them together for a bit?
I think now is the right time because in the wake of losing a baby, having that stability is a way for them to process the mourning and process the grief. Also, what’s going to be happening with Casey’s character is going to be dependent on the stability of their relationship. He’s talking about potentially running for alderman coming up for a couple of episodes, and so you can’t really do that without the support of your partner. I think they were setting that up to explore different storylines for each character individually.
A lot of politics is about being in front of the public eye and sometimes that put a strain on a couple. How will Dawson react?
That’s a great question. We actually haven’t filmed that stuff yet so I really don’t know. … I would imagine that she’s probably the right lady for the job to support her man who’s going to be going into politics because the kind of stuff we have to deal with everyday politically, bureaucratically and in the firehouse as well as in a fire. We put our lives on the line every single day so dealing with a little bit of corruption here and there is a breeze.
What’s coming up for your character that’s separate from their relationship?
Right now, I feel like the big sister or the mom of the firehouse. I feel like a lot of other people are having their turn at the dramatic storylines and they’re coming to me for support. So I help Otis out with this dating thing that he’s going through, I’m there for Brett on ambo when she and Chili are having this tension between their characters. She confides in me. Severide comes to me to talk about some thoughts or allegations he has potentially about Chili because she’s acting weird and something is going on with her. So I feel like Dawson right now is a real strong pillar for the house.
Your character has been a firefighter for awhile now, so what kind of reactions do you get from female firefighters and the community in general about that?
They’re really excited about Dawson just because as you probably know it’s a very small percentage of women in the first responder world, especially as firefighters, they are just the minority period because it is such a physically demanding job. It’s not that women can’t do it. It’s just that it’s mostly men. So having this story represented from a female perspective is very important I think to the female firefighters and they’re very supportive of me. I’m honored.
Do you ever miss playing a paramedic?
No, I like riding in the truck. I like banging down doors and putting water on fire and putting the mask on. I like to be dirty and messy, I don’t like super clean from an artistic way. I like to have physical challenges, emotional challenges and I feel like, as a firefighter, I’ve found Dawson’s identity by being on the fire truck.
Looking at her identity, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in Dawson since the show started?
I think that now that she’s been through so much. She’s experienced loss, a lot of loss, she’s experienced a lot of joy as well, a lot of coming together, I think that the family has bonded through all of those hurdles and obstacles that they’ve overcome together and so I feel like she is very much a part of the glue that holds this family and the Firehouse 51 together.
Through the emotional stress she’s had to go through, that vulnerability has actually made her stronger.
You know have three shows with Chicago Med. Obviously, there’s so much crossover between the three shows. How is it juggling appearances on three shows instead of just two?
It’s so hard. I do not envy the guys who have to coordinate the schedules on these shows and the hours are already so long and there’s just a lot of bodies involved to figure it out. It has become difficult but we’re figuring it out. I think we’re starting to find our groove with that. And its kind of cool having three shows of one world in Chicago. It’s a great way to explore the city too because a lot of hang out together.
Chicago Fire airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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