Brittany Curran brought Katie Nolan back to Chicago Fire, and spoke about what it meant to return and film her Chicago Fire season 7 episode.
Tonight Chicago Fire repeats the season’s most powerful episode, which also features the return of a character who finally made her way back to One Chicago.
Katie Nolan, the half-sister of Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), returns in “What Will Define You” as they mourn the death of their father. It was a much happier experience for Brittany Curran, who plays Katie and connected with One Chicago Center to discuss her guest appearance.
The actress, who’s currently starring in The Magicians for SyFy, spoke about how Katie’s return to Chicago came about and what it was like for her to revisit her character.
Discover her story behind the making of this Chicago Fire episode below, then watch “What Will Define You” again tonight at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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One Chicago Center: How did your return to Chicago Fire happen? Had you been wanting to go back?
Brittany Curran: I was so happy to go back to Chicago Fire, and that was because of the cast. I had been talking to [Derek Haas] when I was on hiatus from The Magicians…I was like I miss Chicago Fire, I want to go back. He was like can you do two shows? And I was like yeah, I think so.
They made time in my schedule, because I’m a 10 out of 13 [episodes] character, so I’m not in every single episode of The Magicians. It happened that I had a week off and so I wrapped up a Magicians episode, I think it was about halfway through the season, and I flew to Chicago and I got back into Katie.
What was it like stepping back into the role of Katie Nolan? Especially since your current show is completely different from Chicago Fire, did you have to readjust?
It was weird because I’m so used to being Fen. Breaking out of [The Magicians] into modern times was really hard actually.
When I was back in Chicago, it really did feel like a family. A lot of these people I hadn’t seen in like five years. I remember getting into the hair and makeup trailer on the morning of my first day, and there was a huge hug fest. It was so exciting to see Taylor and Yuri [Sardarov] and Joe [Minoso] and just everybody. And Kara Killmer is the sweetest thing ever.
This Chicago Fire episode told fans how Katie was doing after moving to Colorado. Did what we learned match up with your idea of how she’d been doing since we last saw her?
She was actually doing pretty well from what I figured she was doing. I imagined her in Colorado obviously having a rough time, as anyone would, after the kidnapping. But I imagined her getting back on her feet and continuing her dream of being a chef, and being on the road to being a successful chef. It was pretty on par with how I imagined her being.
But one of the things that I didn’t see coming and didn’t know is when her and Otis were having coffee in the firehouse [is] that Katie actually did miss Chicago and miss Otis. You can definitely see that connection she has to Otis and maybe regret in a way. I didn’t really expect that to come up until I was there, and Yuri’s such an awesome guy and I think we worked together really well. So it’s just interesting, the subtext that comes up when you’re on set.
Were there any other scenes that particularly stood out for you as you were filming them?
The Benny Severide funeral scene. First of all, that was such an amazing scene, because everyone was there. Obviously it was really sad and morose because of what happened to Benny, but just having everyone in the same room at once. And that was the first scene that I shot.
During that entire scene, I was really crying. The whole time, any time there was a camera slightly pointed in my direction. I was so emotional the entire day. They cut this one part out where at the end of the scene, Kelly comes over to me with Benny’s helmet and hands it to me. I have this moment where I grab it from him, and they cut it out for time. I’m looking at Taylor, grabbing the helmet, crying and then I’m also supposed to put my jacket on really quick and get behind the procession.
I remember the first take I had snot coming out of my nose, crying, and I couldn’t get my jacket on without dropping the helmet—which actually belongs to a real fire chief who’s a consultant on the show; his name is Chik [Steve Chikerotis]. So I feel [Miranda Rae Mayo] coming up behind me and putting my jacket on for me, and I just look at her and I’m trying not to smile because I’m like oh my God, she is the sweetest ever.
I just couldn’t do anything physically in that moment because I was crying, and it worked out. Every take after that, every time we had our choreography of me crying, holding the helmet, them getting me into my jacket and then waking out. It was so simple, but was such a good example of how everybody in that scene was so together and so supportive.
Is there the possibility of you coming back to Chicago Fire again in the future?
Maybe. I don’t know.
You’ve been on The Magicians for a few seasons now. Have you noticed Chicago Fire fans who followed you to that show, or fans from that series who watched your return to Chicago Fire?
Yeah, it’s amazing. That’s one of the things I like about social media, is that you can track where people are going. I have actually seen a bit of crossover in both directions. It means a lot coming from Chicago Fire and doing Magicians, because Fire was the first one and then people followed me over to Magicians a couple years later.
But even with this one episode, I’m seeing it come the other way back now. That’s why I’m excited if Katie Nolan comes back to Chicago in the future—re-establishing that again and people being able to see more of her story. It’s fun because they’re such two different shows. You’ve got this magic show based on novels, and then one procedural show about firefighters in Chicago.
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