‘Chicago Fire’ Star Taylor Kinney Spent 24 Hours with Windy City Firefighters to Research for Show

by Courtney Blackann
(Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Many actors research their roles in preparation. It not only helps give a real-world perspective, but it prepares them emotionally. This is also true for “Chicago Fire” actor Taylor Kinney, who was able to spend 24 hours with a real local firehouse in the Windy City. The star went on a ride-a-long, which helped him become more connected to his character.

Kinney has played firefighter Kelly Severide on “Chicago Fire” since 2012. He also recently renewed his contract for the drama series through its tenth season. While he’s been in plenty of dire situations onscreen, it was his experience offscreen – with the real deal – that helped shape his approach to the role.

“With the ride-alongs in Chicago, I love that. I did a lot of carpentry work growing up, I spent a lot of summers on roofs and framing and I like to see my work, I like to sweat, I like to use my hands. So getting a role like this and an opportunity like this to play a firefighter – I could see myself in that profession. I have a high respect for these guys. So getting to do the ride-alongs, we’d spend twenty-four hours with them,” he says in an interview with Assignment X.

Taylor Kinney Shares Ride-a-Long Experience

The actor goes on to add:

“We have some gear, we’d suit up, we’d go to calls, we’d go to bigger calls, we’d go to smaller calls, we’d go to gun shootings, victims, we’d go to potential jumpers in the city, and a lot of the firefighters – I think for the most part now it’s almost mandatory that they have EMS [emergency medical service] training, so they’re there, paramedics are there, cops are there – and being on a shout with these guys, that’s one element. [Someone asked] about how much downtime they have. And it’s one of those things where they get paid for what they can do a lot of times, but not what they do do.”

“Chicago Fire” Star Shows Major Respect for Real First Responders

Further, Kinney says the experience gave him major respect for our first responders and what they do on a daily basis. Not only did he recognize their perseverance, he realized that firefighters go “above and beyond” on a regular basis – that it’s not pretend for them, it’s just their daily lives. And he’s grateful he gets to relay that experience.

However, Kinney’s character isn’t without flaw – as no human is. The “Chicago Fire” actor likes some of the more complex sides of his character. He embraces them wholeheartedly, he says.

“He doesn’t spend a lot of time in the rearview, there’s always something exciting going on,” Kinney says. “There’s always something he’s working on and he loves his trade. He loves what he does for a living, that’s kind of been ingrained in him by his father, Benny, when he passed.”