‘Chicago Med’s Colin Donnell and ‘Chicago Fire’s Joe Minoso Discuss the ‘Chicago’ Crossover Event

Colin Donnell Chicago Med
Colin Donnell as Dr. Connor Rhodes in ‘Chicago Med’ (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

NBC is taking full advantage of the Chicago franchise they’ve created with special crossover episodes involving Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago P.D. The first two parts of the crossover event aired on January 5, 2016 with Chicago Med‘s Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) and the hospital staff fighting to save one of Chicago Fire‘s most beloved characters, Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg), after he was stabbed by a gang member Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) was trying to help. The crossover event will conclude on January 6th on Chicago P.D. airing at 10pm ET/PT.

In support of the Chicago crossover, Joe Minoso and Colin Donnell teamed up for a conference call to discuss not only the special #OneChicago episodes but also their characters and what it’s like to be a part of this popular Chicago franchise.

Joe Minoso and Colin Donnell Interview:

Colin, what does this One Chicago crossover mean for you? Was it a little bit more work? What did it actually involve for you?

Colin Donnell: “The crossover is an amazing feat of logistics first and foremost. I mean, to pull together three casts of three extraordinarily busy shows into one unifying story is just amazing to me. So, it meant a little bit more work for everybody – I think especially behind the scenes. But ultimately I think it’s so worth it to give the fans such a unique experience of being able to unify three separate shows that are within one universe. It’s totally unprecedented in television, especially right now. And it’s amazing to be a part of that.”

Joe, we left your character in such an emotionally precarious position. How is he going to be handling this? And is it going to affect him for the rest of the season, that he introduced this kid to the firehouse gang?

Joe Minoso: “Well, you know, I think it’s going to weigh incredibly heavy on him. You know, I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t. I think any opportunity where you introduce someone into the world or into your community or your family, you’re hoping that that is going to go well and that there’s going to be sort of a symbiotic relationship. In the case of Freddie, I think no one was expecting that he would become so volatile. But unfortunately it turned into a really serious thing. And Hermann, you know, obviously as many have said and I agree with, is the heart of that house. And so for it to happen to him of all people, who reached out so willingly to help, it hurts the most. And it’s going to kill Cruz. And we’re going to see that I think unfold, quite a bit throughout the season.”

Were there any challenges in filming these episodes in regards to the weather or anything else?

Joe Minoso: “Yeah. I’m going to say it’s been awesome because thanks to the beautiful new Chicago Med cast and their lovely set, we get to hang out indoors instead of freezing our butts off outside. So that would be my answer to that particular question.”

Colin Donnell: “And speaking as a Chicago Med cast member, I just want to say you’re welcome Joe, for being part of a hospital drama that allows people to have a little respite from the Chicago winter and come indoors, into our hospital, so you don’t have to freeze your butt off outside.”

Joe Minoso: “I tell you, thank you so much. It’s just like walking into a warm fireplace, you know? And they’ve got the chestnuts going. First of all, they’re so hospitable over there. They’re just the loveliest group of people so not only do you feel this warmth because the heat’s on, but you feel warm inside, because there’s just so much love.”

Was Freddie a way for you to make up for the gang member that you left in that fire a long time ago?

Joe Minoso: “Wow. I mean that’s a very philosophical question. That’s very deep. You know, I think for the audience’s perspective, perhaps that could very easily be the case. I think, you know, in terms of Cruz, I think he dealt with that in a very personal way, knowing that it was going to ultimately affect the life of his brother. And it was one or the other. And even so, his own life. You know, Cruz was definitely on the watch list of those gang members and could have easily ended up just as dead as the next guy. And that’s I think a reality of that neighborhood culture all the time is you walk on thin ice when you live in that kind of world because you never truly know what’s going to set someone off in what particular way. So it’s a fine line that you have to write it. When they wrote it there was a lot of controversy amongst the writers as to whether or not it would be a good idea or that it would be too much to take. You know, I think ultimately they really found a really interesting window to kind of have true experiences to process and a very kind of beautiful confessional scene in the first season.

But as of right now with Freddie, you know, I think what that just shows is more of how Cruz truly wants to help people get out of what he got out of. And for me, that’s a really personal thing, because I came from that kind of background. I saw some real crazy things in my childhood. I’m glad to be able to play that out on this show.”

Colin, we going to see some fisticuffs between Rhodes and Halstead at some point?

Joe Minoso: [Laughing] “Oh, I hope so.”

Colin Donnell: “Yeah. I think they certainly have two opposing viewpoints on how they approach medicine. I don’t know if it necessarily gets to – we haven’t seen it come to that much of a heated argument. But things get, like even next week you see things get a little bit more aggressive between the two. It’s a contentious relationship.”

Colin, when the opportunity came along to join the Chicago universe, what was your reaction?

Colin Donnell: “You know, I mean I was thrilled that I was being invited to be a part of such a cool series and […]being a part of a Dick Wolf universe. I was a little familiar with the shows. But right after this all happened, my wife and I went back to the very beginning of Chicago Fire, Season 1 Episode 1 and we were like, ‘Let’s watch some,’ and we got hooked. We were so thrilled and every single episode got me so excited to be a part of something that was so unique and so fun, so entertaining, so moving. You know, I fell in love with Cruz…”

Joe Minoso: “…you hit all the bullet points that we talked about before the phone call. Honestly, you nailed it. You know, I really thought that you were going to miss on the Cruz – falling in love with Cruz part. But, thank you. I’m so glad for that. You know, I just wanted to say it’s crazy, right, because you go into a show and you think it’s going to be like…you just hope that it goes beyond 13 episodes then beyond Season 1. And what we’ve been involved in has been such an insane whirlwind. And to know that we are now in the midst of a third show and I, personally, if we’re just going to be doing a little backstroking on each other’s backs here, I’ve become such a fan of Chicago Med. I think that they really have great things going on. I think they’re telling medical stories in a very interesting, unique way. And, you know, the cast is just kicking butt. We had to do this quick promotional last year, right before the hiatus, right before the Christmas break where we had to say Happy New Year to a couple of folks. It was all three casts all together and it really felt like a big kind of Thanksgiving dinner at a family. It was like so exciting. I think I can speak for Colin when I say it’s been like such an awesome experience just watching this family grow.”

We’ve seen so many different medical cases on Chicago Med. Which one has been your favorite so far?

Colin Donnell: “I think the episode that aired just before the holiday break that dealt with the supposed gun violence and the shooting in the theater, I think was one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done so far. I just think that what it had to say and what it did say was very powerful. Those are the kind of stories that I would like to be telling. And I think it was very deftly handled by our director and our writers and our cast as a whole. And I was very proud to be a part of that.”

How is the story going to play out as far as the relationship between the Rhodes family, in particular between Connor and his father?

Colin Donnell: “We’ve seen a little bit of the Rhodes family story unfold so far. It won’t be just this week but next week, you’ll see some more of it unfold. What I love about all of our characters [is] every single character across all of these Chicago shows has a story that we get to peek into. I think the writers of every show do a great job of shining a light on all of these characters. And that’s what makes it so appealing to an audience is because you fall in love with each of them as you go along. And, specifically, you’re going to see why there is such animosity between Connor and his father in the next couple of weeks. And to say anything more would, unfortunately, give it away.”

Joe Minoso Chicago Fire
David Eigenberg as Christopher Herrmann and Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz in ‘Chicago Fire’ (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)

It seems like the casts have a really good connection. Does that have a lot to do with how it comes across on screen, that you guys really have a good time?

Joe Minoso: “Well , for me I think that it’s very much so the case. I don’t know how we’ve been as lucky as we have in terms of all of the cast members that keep coming in. You know, you hear horror stories when you’re a young actor about working with a bunch of divas and how that can be impossible. We have not come across that, really. Everyone that keeps coming into the shows are just such lovely people to work with. They’re true professionals. They’re ready to just kind of do their work and at the same time, all know how to act like five year old morons. They enjoy one another and can not be afraid of just being silly. And that I think is why it just makes this job so easy and such a pleasure to do.”

Colin Donnell: “Before coming into this, I had heard nothing but amazing things about how everybody was so nice and so wonderful and you won’t believe it. I actually was preparing myself not to believe it because it sounded too good to be true, how like wonderful of a group it was. But that’s exactly what I walked into. And specifically doing this crossover, because the crossover was my first opportunity to step on another set aside from Chicago Med, and I have to say like Joe was actually one of the first people who came up to me when I came on the set. He personally just walked me through and introduced me to every single person who was there. And it was such a wonderful welcome to the family, really. I really felt very – just it was such a warm, warm welcome and [it was] so appreciated on my part, being able to drop in to something that’s been going on, into a family that’s been together for three plus years and not feel like the new kid that was invading space.”

What were your initial reactions when you found out that you were going to be doing the crossover episode?

Joe Minoso: “Hallelujah! This has been something that I think has been kind of bred into the thinking of this show from the very beginning. I think Dick Wolf has really been reaching for kind of a new look at how you produce television and this has been something that has been on his mind from the very beginning. And it’s actually a real honor for me to see it unfold. I think that they’ve done such an exceptional job in putting this whole thing together and like now that Med is here, I’m really looking forward to us telling some really interesting, well-rounded, fully developed stories. You know, I feel like if you think about it, there’s going to be three shows telling the same story over the course of one week. That’s an hour and a half of television, which is the length of most movies. So we’re really putting on a movie a week here, when we do a crossover event.”

Colin Donnell: “Because we knew it was coming but we didn’t know what story was going to be told, for me I was just so excited to see what kind of story was going to take up that three hours of television. You know, I was like, ‘I want to know! I want to know!’ And it didn’t let down.”

Chicago Fire has bursts of comedy between the intense scenes, such as when we discovered Cruz’s background as a Zumba instructor. Why do you feel it’s important to incorporate the comedic elements in between all the drama?

Joe Minoso: “Well I think, especially for Fire, I think that we have that luxury to be honest with you, to take some really moments of levity, just because that’s just how they live. That’s how firefighters and paramedics coexist in the universe. You know, you spend enough time with a lot of these people and you realize that they do a lot of things to just kind of keep themselves happy and just to kind of distract themselves from the seriousness of the job. You know, you get to see some of the world’s most atrocious things as a firefighter and you are the last line of defense for a lot of people’s lives, and sometimes that doesn’t necessarily happen. I’m sure that this is the same for the people over at Med. There’s a great responsibility that comes with trying to save a human life and when that doesn’t happen on your watch that can be a real low. So I think, fortunately, Fire has the best kind of avenue in all us goofball firefighters, to kind of take a break and maybe laugh at ourselves a little bit, because it really is how they handle all that stress.”

Looking beyond this week’s crossover, what’s ahead for your characters? Are there any storylines you’re really excited for fans to see this season or to explore?

Colin Donnell: “You know, there’s some really, really cool stuff coming up for – not even particularly for – for Connor but there are some storylines that we’re doing right now…I think we’re on Episode 9 on Med right now…that I’m super excited. I can’t give anything away. I wish I could. But suffice to say the stories I feel have just gotten better from where we started. And I’m very excited for audiences to see what the writers are doing and what’s going on.”

Joe Minoso: “Yeah. And I mean I would say for me, I’m just excited. You know, once this crossover takes place and America gets to see the potential of what we’re really capable of doing when we’re telling a story now, with these three shows, I’m excited to see what the writers decide to do with it next time because I think that they’re going to find themselves with a great position to do some really interesting television. I think that for me that’s what’s most exciting, is we’re going to explore uncharted territory in the world of TV.”