Ahead of the final episode, One Chicago Center spoke to Kara about the status of the Brettsey relationship (don’t forget last week’s massive reveal), and her opinion on the divided fan reaction to a romantic involvement between Brett and Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer).
Plus, we discuss how the ninth season has been “a very maturing season” for Firehouse 51, and whether or not Brett has things to work out beyond her romantic life. Check out what Kara had to tell us, then don’t miss the Chicago Fire season 9 finale tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC!
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One Chicago Center: Derek Haas spoke in our interview about how Chicago Fire season 9 is sort of a transitory season; people are changing a lot. Do you feel that’s true for Sylvie Brett?
Kara Killmer: That’s definitely super Sylvie. Season 9, we’re getting into a more mature territory for everyone; we’ve been together for so long, and then we do have a couple of new faces.
Specifically for Sylvie, obviously there’s been a lot of transition with Casey, “will they, won’t they” all season long. And I think even just in that friendship, [because] she has the safety, there’s been a lot of maturing for her, personal growth for her as well. She’s such a hopeless romantic. She’s always molded herself around the men in her life, and I think Casey was really the first guy to be very concerned about empowering her and making sure that she’s happy, and I think she took that on. It helped her with her own self-worth, and so I feel like you can see it both in her leadership and as a paramedic.
She’s just had so many badass moments this season, in terms of being out in the field, but also just personally. She’s trying not to make as many compromises. She’s trying to really stand up for herself and what she wants, but being kind caught in the crosshairs of what she wants and what she can’t have and what we think is going on. I would agree that it’s definitely been a very maturing season for everyone.
OCC: You and Jesse Spencer have been playing that “will they, won’t they” for literal years now. What has it been like for you as actors to continue to play that, and to see it come to a head in this season?
KK: It’s like whiplash. At first, I was a little, “Ew, gross,” just because [of] the girl code. But then he just was so supportive and such a good friend and gosh darn it, he worked his way into her heart. Then she just has like the biggest crush on him, and years are going by and there’s so many close calls. I feel like I continually see people putting up memes and tweets and responses that are like, “Just kiss already! Just get it over with,” and both Jesse and I are like, “Come on!” So we feel the pain of the fans.
OCC: The pairing has created some controversy because of that preexisting friendship between Brett and Gabriela Dawson (Monica Raymund). How do you react to that?
KK: I know there’s so much controversy around Brett and Casey, and what about Dawson? She was his wife, she was her best friend, and I totally understand all of that. It took a while for me to be sold on it so I could understand why it would take a while for the fans to be sold on it, and rightfully so; their relationship was so special and so good.
I would never, ever, ever take anything away from what Dawson and Casey had, and anything that Monica performed and how she did that character so flawlessly. She’s like the matriarch of all of One Chicago. She was the first woman that carved the way for the rest of us, on all three shows, to like have a place in this world. All of that is very special and important.
But I think, just like in life, people move on. People leave, people grow, people have traumas that they deal with, and certainly the traumas on that the characters experience on the show, it bonds them, and you see new relationships, new friendships, and new romance just in the wake of everything that these characters go through. That would be kind of my response to the frustration that maybe some die-hard [fans] have, which I totally understand. Some of this stuff does happen in real life.
OCC: The other big news in Brett’s life is that she’s working with another new partner, which was necessitated by Adriyan Rae leaving Chicago Fire. For you as an actress, how do you adapt to that change and make it work for Brett while also honoring what you did with Adriyan?
KK: The truth of the matter is that, in the CFD, paramedics aren’t assigned partners that they get to have all the time. Michelle Martinez, who’s our paramedic technician on the show, she has multiple partners. She’s had some that are kind of mainstays or they repeat a lot, so she builds a really good relationship with them—but there’s actually a lot of flexibility in terms of what partner you get, depending on what house or what shifts you take on that day, so really it’s pretty accurate that it’s kind of a revolving door on Ambo 61,
Obviously 51 is a very special house and it is like a family, and it takes a really special person; they have to love it. They have to fit in and become a part of this circus that we call 51. And there’s been a lot of change over on Ambo, which is always heartbreaking for me personally, because I do get attached. So the episode where she’s feeling sorry for herself is so real for me.
But I absolutely adore Hanako Greensmith [who plays Violet]. She’s worked with us before—she came in last year—and she has such a great attitude. She’s such a hard worker. She has such a great sense of humor. The most important set of criteria that you have to have in order to be in our group is just having a sense of humor. So I hope she sticks around with us for a while, because she’s just so much fun. I love her.
OCC: There’s one scene from earlier in Chicago Fire season 9 that resonated, when Grainger breaks up with Brett and he tells her that she has something to work on. The obvious version of that is he’s referring to her feelings for Casey, but with all this change in her life, could he mean that she needs to spend some time on herself, too?
KK: I do think with Greg, when he first asked her out at Molly’s, she was like, “Look, I’m a bit of a train wreck when it comes to love.” So I did warn him. (laughs) But yeah, I think he probably hit the nail on the head to some degree.
Between him saying “Hey, I think you need to sort some things out,” and Casey also a couple of episodes back saying “You should get the partner you want,” like you shouldn’t compromise, I think all signs point toward Sylvie having to make the decision to go after what she wants and trying to put herself first. I think she can be self-sacrificing and considerate, sometimes to a fault. Or maybe just out of fear, or out of a belief that she doesn’t deserve what she wants. And so maybe Greg’s line was a bit deeper than just thinking that this is all about Casey.
OCC: You’ve obviously lived with Sylvie Brett a long time now, and there are some parallels in the sense that you’ve both said goodbye to teammates and taken on more challenges. How do you see her now compared to season 3? How significantly has she evolved?
KK: It started, I would say, when [Emily] Foster arrived. She just had to step into more authority and she’s a PIC [Paramedic in Charge]. But she also knows herself better, she knows the city better. There were so many episodes dedicated to whether or not she could handle a busy house, and whether or not she could handle some of the trauma of all of the things that firefighters have to deal with and go home with, and I think to some degree, some of it is a bit of an old hat for her. She understands what the job is, she understands what her role is.
And having so many different people on Ambo, there’s definitely a bit of a mentorship position that she’s been put into now, just like Dawson was when Sylvie arrived. I definitely think she’s moved into her authority, and then personally, I think it’s a constant journey, but becoming less of a people pleaser and engaging in more self-care and prioritizing herself and her needs and things like that.
OCC: We already know there’s going to be Chicago Fire season 10, so what are your aspirations for Brett as she does turn the page?
KK: In terms of the future, I just want this girl to be happy. She has had so much loss—with losing Dawson and then losing Foster, and then we lost Otis and we lost Foster, and then her birth mother. And then even just the back and forth of all of her relationships with Antonio and the chaplain, and even with Casey. There’s so much dissatisfaction in her life, and she’s such an internal optimist and such a hopeless romantic.
I hope that at some point we see some satisfaction of her really being able to love someone and be loved and really be able to just, maybe, have some peace for just a second. I know it’s a TV show and somebody’s got to stir the pot, but I do hope that we get to see some of those longstanding hopes and dreams start to peek through for her.
For the latest Chicago Fire season 9 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.