Believe it or not, the actor who plays Wallace Boden on Chicago Fire is about as far as one can get from a Chicago native. It may come as a shock to fans who were completely convinced by his performance, but Eamonn Walker hails from London, England.
Walker has been playing Wallace Boden since Chicago Fire began in 2012. By now, he has the Chicago accent down pat. But it didn’t come to him right away. In a 2019 interview with NBC10 Philadelphia, Walker described the long process of developing Boden’s voice with a dialect coach. He claims that they did most of the work in a hotel room.
Still, Chicago Fire was far from the first time Eamonn Walker needed to put a new tool in the toolkit. His career has seen him play multiple Americans with differing backgrounds. One of his more recognizable American characters was Kareem Said on the HBO series Oz.
But how does Walker manage to pull these characters off so convincingly? According to him, it’s much more than an accent alone.
“I have an ear, I guess, for the musicality of the voice. I also know and come from a philosophy of acting that your whole body is a tool box. So my voice, the way I walk, the way I move, all of that is part of the toolbox. So if I can formulate a character based on what’s coming off the page, also from what the writer is trying to say, then I’ll use whatever. Sometimes an accent is easy, and sometimes one isn’t. So it’s much more about building the character, which comes from the piece, rather than doing an accent,” Walker told Assignment X in 2015.
Hear ‘Chicago Fire’ Star Eamonn Walker Speak in His Natural Voice
Convincing as Eamonn Walker’s Wallace Boden character on Chicago Fire may be, Boden isn’t just a switch the actor can flip on at any moment. The way he tells it, it takes him a while to build into character.
And it’s not as if all the years of playing American characters have done anything to lessen his natural London accent. In the interview with NBC10 Philadelphia included below, the actor speaks in his natural voice. Warning for all of you Chicago Fire fans out there—some things can’t be unheard.
“When I first arrived in 1997 doing Oz, I was petrified at having to do an American accent in front of Americans. I’m not in that place now. I’ve worked with several voice people over the years,” said Boden.