Joe Minoso stars as firefighter Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire.
We had a chance to catch up with him right before the premiere of Chicago Fire Season 9 on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Read on to find out what Alberto had to say about what's up ahead for Cruz, his past with new paramedic Gianna Mackey, and incorporating the pandemic into the OneChicago Universe.
So what can you tease about this upcoming season?
Oh, gosh, well, I mean, too many things, right? I mean, first of all, I can let you know that a new paramedic is going to be coming to 51.
And she is a very, very old friend of Cruz, someone that he thinks of very much as a little sister. And there's going to be all sorts of drama around that, specifically for Cruz.
Even though he's happily married man, he’s always got to have his feelings in somebody’s life, so I look forward to playing with our new actress Adriyan Rae. She's really been a complete joy to be with.
And then of course, you know, more Casey and Brett drama, and ‘will they, won't they.’
Frankly, I hope they don't. Also, there’ll be even more of the same exciting stuff we usually see. You know, we're gonna get to see Ritter do all sorts of, you know, amazing new stuff and really see what he's made out as a firefighter.
And we'll get to explore, of course, you know, all of our characters and what's been going on with them during this COVID-ridden world that we're in right now.
You know, we're playing firefighters and first responders, and those guys, those men and women, are definitely on the frontline of this. So we have we hope to kind of explore that as well.
So you mentioned that Cruz and Mackey go way back. Are they just friends, or is there maybe more to the backstory?
Yes, you know, I won't give away too much, but ultimately, it's really kind of a big brother/little sister relationship more than anything.
Does the reappearance of Mackey in Cruz’s life cause trouble for him and Chloe. They just got married at the end of last season.
Yeah, no, Chloe and Cruz are in the middle of like wedding bliss. They're still very much on the honeymoon stage. And things are firing on all cylinders on that end. So no, not at all. No trouble in that paradise.
What’s the dynamic like at the 51 now that a new paramedic has arrived? Does she shake things up?
I wouldn't say turbulence, but I would say Gianna certainly quickly puts her stamp on a lot of Firehouse 51. So it definitely won't be a smooth ride.
Does that put Cruz in a difficult position, having to maybe play peacemaker?
There's no way that you know. It's going to cause tension between other firefighters. It’s gonna cause tension between Gianna and Cruz.
It's going to put Cruz in a position where he feels like he has to make sure that she is representing as well. So yeah, absolutely. It's going to be a total war I think in a lot of ways for Cruz.
I spoke with Alberto Rosende recently, and he said that you guys have a couple scenes coming up. What can you tease about that?
We do. All I will say is, perhaps it's it, Gianna involved. I also want to say, that this really is the first time that we've gotten to play together, as actors in an in-depth way. Alberto is more usually on Truck, dealing with those guys over there, so we haven't had a lot of on air time. It was such a blast to work with him.
You know, a lot of people don't know this, but Alberto is was actually Latino, and it's been really fun to just kind of explore, you know, working with another Latin actor on screen like that. It's been really a ton of fun.
How would you describe their relationship? Cruz wasn’t overly thrilled when Gallo joined 51, just because he was replacing Otis.
Yeah, no, I think, in general, as far as that specific part of the relationship. Gallo has certainly earned his stripes with the team, and I think that that's reflected in our relationship. I think that there's definitely respect for who he is as a firefighter.
But there definitely will be a little bit of a heated exchange between the two of us over a couple of things.
Does any of that have to do with Gallo maybe wanting to ask about Mackey?
Ah, you know what? Maybe, not maybe. Who knows, maybe the other way around? I don't know.
Will Mackey’s introduction provide some more insight on Cruz’s backstory? Maybe, what his life was like pre-Firehouse 51?
I think we'll delve into that more, especially in episode 2, kind of his relationships with maybe her family members that will unfold themselves later. But I don't want to give that away.
So where does Cruz find himself this season professionally?
You know, frankly, more of the same, just doing his best to back up Severide in some of the most harrowing calls that Squad gets to see. Hopefully, down the line, we'll start to explore what it looks like for him at a leadership level, and who knows, maybe a little sooner. I personally know I'm ready for it.
So how would that leadership translate on screen? Would it be him taking the lieutenant’s exam like Kidd this season, or just taking on more responsibility within the firehouse?
You'll see now that from time to time. Severide is kind of bouncing back and forth, doing a lot of investigating [with OFI], so you'll see that a Cruz is kind of taking the leadership role on Squad. So, who knows? That could potentially happen.
Anything else you can tease about Cruz this season?
Right now, we've only gotten into about episode 2 or 3, and there’s a jampacked bunch of stuff, especially on the relationship side. So I still don't know; I look forward to seeing what we uncover in the coming episodes.
Do you have anything you'd like to see happen to him?
Oh, wow. You know, I don't know. That's a great question.
Starting a family, in one way or the other, seems like the natural progression from here on out. But I've dealt with this right now. He finally has a moment to kind of sit in his joy and just be a part of a beautiful married couple, and just experience that kind of love.
Then, at the same time, he's really sort of taking on something of a mentee in Gianna and making sure that she's finding her way through the firehouse. So I think that ultimately, that's going to keep him pretty busy for a while.
I always look forward to whatever next challenge they bring my way.
Can you tease any of the action sequences that you've shot so far? We know that the end of Chicago Fire Season 9 Episode 1 will be pretty dicey.
We're going to be on the dispatched to a giant photo lab that goes up in flames.
Those are some really, really flammable liquids and chemicals that they deal with when they're developing photos. So it's a really hair-raising call, and it definitely puts us all kind of in a lot of different situations, which is really smart on the writers part.
They've been really figuring out ways to kind of put us back into the middle of the world that we deal with, with fires and stuff like that, but sort of keep us safe on a health perspective by limiting how many of us get caught up in different situations.
So, which builds up more drama, because it puts us all in kind of isolated worlds where we're in even more danger. I think you'll see kind of in that first big fire in episode 1.
Any chance we’ll get to see Leon this season?
We won't see any of Leon moving forward in the first two episodes, but I would love to see him.
I think that it's going to be difficult in a lot of ways to see some of our great guest stars that we've had on over the years, because there's so many new restrictions. Everybody's trying to be safe with all of these COVID kind of compliances.
We're definitely kind of tightening the ranks and making sure that everyone is being as healthy as possible. So it might be some time before we get some of those guests visiting again.
Are there any other characters you’d like to see Cruz interact with? Maybe someone that he doesn’t normally get to share scenes with?
I think Daniel Kyri [who plays Ritter]. You know, we got a chance to play a little bit last year, and that was so much fun. Alberto was the last one that I really haven't had an opportunity to really kind of work with on a one-on-one basis. So that has been fantastic.
I love working with everybody in our cast, so I look forward to anyone that they throw my way. You know, I always loved working with Mouch, with Herrmann. Severide and Cruz have built quite a bond over the last couple of years since you've gone on Squad. So I always look forward to whatever comes my way.
I think it's always so exciting. I never expect what's coming. You know, I never know what is in store for Cruz each year. The last thing I would have anticipated was a relationship with a new paramedic, and this kind of like, long lost sister.
So, that's what was exciting to me, like, seeing how they managed to keep each character's trajectory flesh. And every year, there's some new exciting challenge for me to explore. So it's always a treat.
So what's it been like to film during the pandemic? These are pretty crazy times.
Indeed. Outside of the mask wearing, which I'm so very grateful for, it's been pretty good. Our producers are incredibly smart, and they were working on the system for months before we ever showed up. I feel like they've done everything they can to mitigate it.
I'm really, frankly, very impressed with what NBC and our producers have put together in order to keep this system, you know, keep this train rolling.
It's just exciting to be able to have our crew, see our crew again, and to know the fact that they're working. Really, I think it's incredible.
How heavily does the pandemic factor into this upcoming season? As a firefighting drama, the characters are on the front lines at times.
I think it'll always weigh in some storylines more than others, but at the same time, you know, the COVID world is the everyday world we live in now.
So in a lot of ways, you'll see the everyday of it for them, like the firefighters get temperature checks when they walk into every shift and you'll see that emulated.
There's going to be a lot of protocols that you've seen the first responders who are dealing with this on a daily basis that we're going to do our best to implement into the series.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I really excited to be back. It's been such a long hiatus, and I'm so thrilled to be able to be back at work with the very large family of people that we have that it takes to make this thing happen.
We just truly hope that you guys enjoy it and that we can continue to bring you the same quality for the OneChicago Universe that you guys expect from us.
Be sure to catch Joe in Chicago Fire, with its ninth season premiering on NBC on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.