This past episode of Chicago Fire proved itself to be as epic of a fall finale as you could have hoped for — there was action, there was drama, there was a huge cliffhanger for Matthew Casey, and we also had a heck of a story for Joe Minoso and his character of Joe Cruz. It was a potentially-heartbreaking story as Cruz’s new girlfriend Chloe almost died in the enormous traffic pile-up that happened; luckily, she emerged from it in the hospital on the mend, and now the two can continue to move forward in what appears to be a promising relationship.
New Chicago Fire video! – Be sure to get some more personal discussion on the fall finale in our latest video at the bottom of this article! Meanwhile, remember that you can subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and check out our full One Chicago playlist.
So what could come next for Chloe and Cruz, and what was it like for Minoso to explore this sort of dramatic material as this character? We discuss all of that and more in this brand new CarterMatt interview.
CarterMatt – What’s the fan reaction been like to the fall finale and your story?
Joe Minoso – They were really complimentary and they seemed to have taken a liking to it. I’m just glad that, in general, that the episode was a great one. We had some great dramatic peaks and some really good moments. I like a lot how it ended and it was a pleasure to take on that kind of storyline.
It was wonderful to see Chloe pull through after everything that she went through, but looking ahead now, is there a reason to be nervous in the immediate future?
Not in the immediate future. The waters are cool and everything seems fine for now — but going forward down the line, it’s Derek Haas and Chicago Fire and Dick Wolf. That tends to mean drama when it comes to relationships. I’m sure that will manifest itself in a myriad of ways going forward.
What sort of heads-up do you get when there is a big Cruz episode coming your way? Is that something you find out about before the script comes in?
Yes. I think the first heads-up that we get is from Derek or Michael Gilvary or Andrea Newman — or one of the writers, when we come into passing with them. They’re always excited to share big storylines with us. That’s the first inkling we get. Usually, we get the script about two to three weeks before we film it and then it’s homework — it’s about getting down with the script and examining the work and making sure, at the base level, that you have the words down correctly. Then, on a deeper level, you get the words down and try to make sure you connect it to something that’s going to make it useful for you and the audience.
Then, you get there on the day and you throw all of that out the window. Nothing is altogether what you expected it would be but you kind of roll with it. You try to live truthfully in the moment. This was the very first time that I had to do something really emotional in front of a group, a lot of the guys and all of my peers. It was a little daunting, but they were nothing but open and accepting and gave me whatever I needed.
Cruz is used a lot as the comic relief, but how do you prepare for some of the more dramatic material? Did your preparation change a lot?
Everything is always done through the lens of Cruz and you have to always start there; but, there are a lot of similarities between myself and him, so that does make it a little bit easier to connect to things. Anytime you’re dealing with anything emotional and this heightened — life or death — you have to get there somehow. For every actor, there are different ways and different methods for finding that emotional reality. For me, I was Meisner-trained so it’s a lot about emotional recall and using imagination to conjure up things that will take you to that place. The world that is created for us in network television helps with that. It looks like we’re in a real hospital; she looks like she’s really beat up and she’s gone through a lot of stuff.
I have to give a lot of credit to Kristen Gutoskie, who plays Chloe. You’d think that it’s easy to play someone on a hospital bed on the verge of death, but that’s not the easiest thing to do believably and also be there for me in the way that she was. She was really, really helpful and I’m really happy to have her there to work off of.
Is getting approval from Chloe’s parents something that gives him a little bit more confidence in terms of the relationship he has here?
It can’t not be. Cruz is a product of a single mother and doesn’t really have any knowledge of his father. Family is the one thing that he’s got. His secondary family as a firefighter is now very much his primary family. Leon, by all purposes, is off living his own life and is off doing his own thing in Florida. He wants acceptance and he wants to desperately have a family and be a part of that reality. Cruz loves to love. I think he would love to have a big family and kids and being accepted by Chloe’s parents. I think that was a big moment for him, not only to be accepted by the parents, but to feel how important he is to Chloe. It’s a really big boon for Cruz, so maybe you’ll see him with a little more swagger because he’s feeling himself (laughs).
Would you like to see more of Cruz’s background and family explored?
Yeah, I’m interested in exploring all sorts of things. I think it would be interesting to get a little bit deeper as to what it means to have an estranged father or what his life with his dad was like. In general, I’m a fan of backstory — I like learning things about characters’ pasts. It would be great to dive into that world a little bit more.
The writers like to keep me on my toes and I love that. I love that I get to do something new and different and exciting and challenging. Whatever they bring, I look forward to tackling it.
I’ve heard inklings about Fire characters possibly being on PD or Med coming up, but what goes into one of the smaller crossovers? Is this something you find out about almost last-minute?
Yeah! A lot of it is dictated by scheduling. Sometimes a scene will be written where there’s an incident call and a firefighter will be needed there, but they’re not specifically sure who it would be. So, it’s basically like Chicago Firefighter A and you just go down the list of who is available to make that scene work.
Other times, it is written more specifically towards you, but it is a matter of getting the scheduling right. I’m so happy that I don’t have to be involved in that; it’s gotta be a nightmare.
Do you look back at a scene this season and think ‘oh, this is the one that I feel the best about?’.
I don’t. I’m one of those actors who is okay with watching themselves, but I over-analyze the heck out of it. I always look to a million different things. I’m very content with a lot of the work that I’ve done, but I don’t think I’m one of those actors who is ever going to be completely satisfied with the work that I put out there. We do the work that we can on the day, we try to bring some variance with it from take to take, and a lot of that is dictated in how it’s edited and brought together. You give yourself over to that process and hope that the audience is taken for a ride.
I know that for me, I’ll always be trying a little bit harder. Trying to push myself a little bit further.
So when you approach hiatuses, what are you looking for outside of Cruz? What are some of the things that appeal to you?
I think as an actor, you get into this business because it has somewhat of a nomadic nature to it. You’re moving from thing to thing and role to role, so something is always new and fresh.
I would consider it kind of an honor and a total blast to be a part of the Marvel franchise. I think they do amazing things and love it so much just as a fan. I would love to be a part of it as a performer. There are so many great shows on streaming now that are small and are doing some really cool things.
For whatever that I’m doing now, I would love for it to be as far of a departure from Cruz as possible, whatever that would be whether it’s a villain or a father of two kids. I would love to play something nowhere near this world. It gives you an opportunity to stretch the muscles a different way.
Okay, so let’s put this out into the universe — Joe Minoso the supervillain.
A supervillain? That would be epic, dude. I would have a blast with that.
Related News – Check out our full review here for the fall finale
Minoso, in concluding the interview, thanked all the fans for their wonderful support during what is yet another super-successful season of the show. If the ratings continue this way, it’s easy to be confident in the long-term future!
What do you want to see happen next with Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: NBC.)