Chicago PD alum Chris Agos shines in new series For All Mankind

Photo: Chris Agos.. The Riker Brothers/Courtesy of Persona PR.
Photo: Chris Agos.. The Riker Brothers/Courtesy of Persona PR. /

Chicago PD veteran Chris Agos is part of one of the hottest new series in For All Mankind. He spoke to One Chicago Center about the Apple TV Plus drama.

One of Chicago PD‘s unsung heroes, Chris Agos, is now playing a real-life hero in For All Mankind.

Agos, who recurred as Assistant District Attorney Steve Kot for several seasons of Chicago PD, has moved on to an even bigger and more exciting role: portraying legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin in a different look at the Space Race.

From the executive producer of Battlestar Galactica and Outlander, For All Mankind tells the story of what would have happened if the Space Race never ended. Chris gets to step into the shoes of a true icon, and told us all about it in our newest interview.

The first three episodes of For All Mankind are available now exclusively on Apple TV Plus, while new episodes premiere every Friday at 12 p.m. PT. Learn more about Apple TV Plus and sign up for a seven-day free trial here.

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One Chicago Center: How would you describe For All Mankind? What’s the different story that it’s trying to tell?

Chris Agos: it’s an alternative history that starts sort of historically correct [in] the Apollo era, then goes onto an alternative timeline, and it asks the question what if the Space Race between the U.S. and Russia never really ended?

In real life, the Vietnam War came along and just sucked a bunch of money and effort and budget out of the space program. In our timeline that doesn’t happen and the race just continues to churn between Russia and the U.S.

The writers had a lot of fun playing with this idea of what would it look like if we were given the space program that we were promised—which was bases on the moon and intergalactic travel and space tourism, stuff that kind of got pushed aside when we had to do other things in the 70’s and 80’s. It was a lot of fun to think about and play out. I get to play the legendary and incomparable Buzz Aldrin, who is such a character and was such a joy to learn about.

How did you decide how to play him in For All Mankind? Because aside from his own lengthy history, he’s been portrayed numerous times before. And then you factor in that the history is changed.

When I was told that I was going to get to play Buzz, my question was, which Buzz are we talking about here? Because there’s Apollo 11 Buzz, which is definitely much different than Buzz after that mission and Buzz today. So it was a matter of kind of paying attention to the mission at hand, which for us was doing the Buzz that was present and working on Apollo 11.

I knew that was my starting point, but then I had to wait for the additional scripts to come out because they were writing as we were shooting, to find out where Buzz was going to go and where to go with him. The Buzz that we’re getting is definitely in the late 60’s, early 70’s and it was a lot of fun to figure out what his mindset was during that time.

And then using the historical event and the fictional stuff that the writers and producers came up with to figure out what might have been in his head, given the challenges that he’s presented with fictionally…playing both sides of that coin.

You’ve accomplished a lot since your last Chicago PD appearance in season 5. How was it to be in the final season of House of Cards?

That’s the first time I was seriously starstruck on set. I was a huge fan of that show. That was a show that was a bucket list item for me. House of Cards was always on my mind. When I walked onto that set—they have a life-size recreation of the Oval Office—and met Robin Wright, it was a very, very surreal moment. I had to kind of walk that line of being amazed that I get to do this thing and actually having to do my job. That was very trippy and very exciting.

That and For All Mankind are two big streaming shows, as opposed to being on a network like NBC. What do you think of TV moving in the streaming direction?

I definitely think that the broadcasting and cable networks aren’t going anywhere. But it’s true that streaming has changed the way we watch TV.

I got more Facebook messages and Twitter messages of hey I caught you on House of Cards than I ever have with any other project, and I think part of that is because a lot of eyeballs were on that season [with] the drama that was happening behind the scenes with that show. But also, that was just such a legendary show. It was the show that essentially launched Netflix as a content provider. That was something that I think provided a little more visibility for me than I’m used to seeing.

In terms of differences between the content on a streaming service versus a network, they’re just sort of apples and oranges. The networks have different standards that they have to go by and different rules to follow. so there’s a whole lot more experimentation on the streaming services, for good and bad. I think some experiments are more successful than others and the only way to get the really good stuff is to go through that process.

Steve Kot is definitely missed on Chicago PD. Does Chris Agos miss anything about playing that character?

I miss my people on that show. After working on it for as many episodes, you just get to know everybody and it’s such a friendly group of people, and so I do miss hopping in and catching up with folks.

I also miss, the relationship between Kot and [Hank] Voight was really interesting and I often wonder what that would have looked like if it had been explored a little bit more. I’m kind of bummed that we never got to see what the history there really was. because there was definitely history between those two guys. That would have been nice to find out.

But changes happen all the time and certainly Chicago PD‘s gone through quite a bit of changes since I left, with the loss of a lot of the original Intelligence Unit. I miss everyone on set because I had a great time working with those folks.

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But now you’re working on a fantastic new show in For All Mankind. Is there anything that you’d want One Chicago fans to know about For All Mankind?

We went to such great lengths to make sure we got everything as correct as possible when it comes to the history. All our spacecrafts are exact replicas of the actual spacecrafts that you’ll find in a museum. Our mission control was built accurately down to the inch, and I think one of my most memorable moments was walking into that room for the first time and being able to be in a space that I’d only seen in history books over my entire life.

The directive from the producers was whatever we can get right, we’re going to get right, and I was really struck by the length they went to fill that commitment. So hopefully as you watch you’ll see it’s as accurate as it can possibly be.

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