Chicago Fire’s Joe Minoso: Cruz’s crossover role ‘tremendous honor’

CHICAGO FIRE -- "What I Saw" Episode 715 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz -- (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "What I Saw" Episode 715 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz -- (Photo by: Parrish Lewis/NBC) /

Chicago Fire star Joe Minoso is front and center in the next crossover with Chicago PD, and explained why Joe Cruz’s latest story means so much to him.

When Chicago Fire crosses over with Chicago PD tomorrow, Joe Minoso will be right in the middle of the action. The One Chicago crossover features his character Joe Cruz in what could be the most dramatic storyline Cruz has ever had.

One Chicago Center connected with Joe ahead of the big event to discuss what’s coming up in the two-hour crossover, how he feels Cruz has turned a corner in Chicago Fire season 7, and why he’s so excited to take on a much more dramatic storyline.

Find out what Joe Minoso had to tell us below, then make sure you don’t miss a minute of the One Chicago crossover event that starts with Chicago Fire tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on NBC.

One Chicago Center: This season seems to have moved Joe Cruz forward in a lot of ways. He’s got a new relationship, and he’s more secure in his job. Does he feel different to you?

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Joe Minoso: There’s been a big leap in growth for Cruz this year. I think ever since he joined Squad, he’s been trying to just do what he can to make some sort of a splash as a real elite firefighter, and he’s been trying to do what he can to learn from Severide and he’s soaking that up. I feel that he’s really feeling himself finally. It feels like he’s growing into himself; he’s more confident in who he is as a firefighter.

It’s definitely helped that [his girlfriend] Chloe has shown up in his life; I think that gives him a really big confidence boost. I think more than anything that’s been the most fun, is being able to play a character who has always been somebody who loved so hard and never really had that love reciprocated. It’s nice to feel that love. It’s like Chloe’s almost got a bigger heart than Cruz, which I think is amazing.

We know that the Chicago Fire crossover episode also features the return of Cruz’s brother Leon, played by Jeff Lima. How do you look back on the developing of that relationship?

What’s really fascinating about it is, it’s been amazing watching his growth. When I met him, he felt to me like a 16-17 year old kid. I took that on with everything. I have a nephew who is kind of a little bit younger, and I have one that’s 27 now that I helped raise, and so I had a lot of experience of what it’s like to have that little brother figure. I adopted him very quickly in my head that way.

Jeff is very much his own man and completely so and doing amazing things—building scholarships and he’s an incredible human—but you can’t help but put them in your head that way. I’ve always had nothing but big brother vibes when it comes to him. Every time I see him there’s this incredible growth and it almost seems like he becomes more and more this really proud, put together man. It’s so much fun to watch that growth.

Working with him has always been fantastic. The great thing about Jeff is he comes in 100 percent prepared and ready to just be in the room, and take it all in and really accept change and ideas and working together, so he’s one of my favorite people to work with.

Is there another evolution to the Leon and Cruz relationship in Chicago Fire season 7?

I think in a lot of ways it is. What I can tell you is that you’ll find in this situation, Cruz might be the one who needs the advice.

Most of your storylines on Chicago Fire are for comic relief. What was it like to not only have a more dramatic plot, but then also to have a huge part of this crossover?

First of all, a tremendous honor. I’ve been really quite busy this year, I’m actually just coming home from working on Chicago Med today for like the third time this season, so it’s been really fantastic running from show to show. I consider it a big responsibility, especially when you’re one of the secondary characters for the most part on a show or you’re handling some kind of the comic relief. When you get a big storyline like this, it’s hard not to look at it as a show of faith from the writers and producers.

I think that’s fantastic and I try to do what I can to bring everything I can for the performance. I was lucky that I work with such a great group of people. Reza Tabrisi, who was our camera operator [in] season 1, is now our producing director and he’s the director of the Fire episode. He’s, in my opinion, a shining star that’s kind of come out of this project. He really is just a guiding hand during this performance, and it’s also been really great collaborating with him and really talking about the technicalities of the film process and how we’re going to go about doing certain things.

I always feel like I’m part of a larger whole who is trying to tell a bigger story, and I just try to do what I can to make sure my part of the story is as clear as possible.

You’ve lived in Joe Cruz’s skin for years now; is there anything you still want to know about him or anything you’d like to do next?

At this point I have so much faith in the writers, I trust them to come up with something. What I’ve learned over the years is that it’s kind of impossible to know what’s going to come your way. It’s hard to believe this character goes from someone who left someone behind in a burning building to save their brother’s life in season 1 to being a Zumba instructor in season 3. That’s such a stark kind of world to live in.

As an actor, I think I live in a very unique space in this show. I get quite a bit of the comedic stuff, I think that’s my wheelhouse they have me in most of the time, but I also get to play some pretty intense dramatic stuff. I love that the character represents family in such a strong way. I just kind of leave it to them. Every year I come back and I find out something new. I didn’t know I was going to become a Squad member ever, and now I’m doing all sorts of crazy things, going undercover with cops, it’s insane. I’m living an actor’s dream.

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When you’re not filming Chicago Fire, you’re involved in some great causes and other projects. What’s the latest with Joe Minoso?

I had a great time riding on Cycle for Survival just this past weekend, which I think is my fourth year in a row. Having lost my mother to cancer this past summer, it became that much more powerful to me and showed me what an incredible community people really are there. That was a great honor, great pleasure; I think they’re an organization worth mentioning.

I’m in the process of trying to put together a movie that I’d like to direct with Christian Stolte as the lead; it’s in its very early stages.

Next. Jeff Lima teases Leon Cruz's return. dark

For the latest Chicago Fire season 7 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.