Chicago Fire star David Eigenberg breaks down the explosive events of Herrmann's lucky day
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Chicago Fire season 9, episode 5, "My Lucky Day."
It was a day like any other for Lt. Christopher Herrmann on Wednesday's Chicago Fire, save for a fortune cookie that predicted it would be his lucky day. Little did Herrmann (David Eigenberg) know when he began his shift at Firehouse 51 the role that tiny sliver of paper would play in saving his life, that of his colleague Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso), and two civilians.
Eigenberg spoke to EW about shooting almost the entire episode inside an elevator, keeping the memory of Otis (Yuri Sardarov) alive, and Joe's future as a dad.
"Shooting this episode was so much fun, it was a bit of a step out of where we normally go," Eigenberg says. "I was really happy that I got paired off with Joe Minoso; we're old friends now. We're all like family. It's been nearly 10 years that we've been working on the show, and we've developed a friendship over the years. I really relate to Joe, and we have some common history. They wrote some really nice stuff for us and I was glad that they stepped into our current times a little bit, showing what's good in this life and what's destructive. I don't like the word bad — there's good and there's destructive. On this show, all the characters lean towards trying to survive the destruction and find the good, and I appreciate that deeply."
"My Lucky Day" was special to showrunner Derek Haas, who says it was "written like a play" in which the actors "performed entire acts in one take," rather than having "10 or 12 scenes in one act like we normally do." For the same reason, this was a favorite episode for Eigenberg.
"I'm an old theater whore," the actor says with a laugh. "We did one take that was 24 minutes long, which is unheard of in television. We did a couple that were 15- or 20-minute-long takes, and that was really cool. We were all locked up in an elevator, and it all really flowed. It was also pretty exciting for the crew and the actors. I remember after some of the more crazy takes, the entire crew broke into applause. And this wasn't just for the actors, but all the hard that went into it from everyone to pull this together. It was a very simple episode, but really cool."
Haas says Eigenberg's work in "My Lucky Day" marks "his best performance of the series," a compliment the self-deprecating actor finds challenging to accept.
"That's very sweet. There are a couple of [performances] that stick out to me," Eigenberg says. "He's the showrunner and things leap out to him. I love the show tremendously, and there are times when we all get together that really warms my heart. I have a whole bunch that sit together, not sure if they're best or better. I'm not a 'best' guy. Like when someone says, 'You know what the best hamburger is?' I care about having a good hamburger." He laughs again as he adds, "But I'm also not the best actor."
It's hard for any Chicago Fire fan not to think of Otis when they see Herrmann and Cruz stuck in an elevator, and it was his memory that helped the pair keep going when things were looking most grim.
"The character of Otis has been stitched into the show since day one," Eigenberg says. "I came to the show and somehow I became a veteran of the industry, and I was 46 when we started shooting. Yuri's character was like 23, I think, and we all came of age together. His character was so heartwarming and sweet. We miss Yuri tremendously. Joe's character was close with Otis, all of us were really, so it kind of pops out and comes in, which is sweet and bittersweet at the same time. This is a show about life and death, which we've witnessed a lot of here in Chicago. Those are the real stakes first responders are faced with every day. These real firefighters that we get educated by and we spend time with, they carry that with them. They don't put it on their sleeve, but you can see it in their eyes. I hope that was conveyed in the episode."
Cruz had one extra little reason he had to leave the elevator alive: His wife, Chloe (Kristen Gutoskie), is pregnant. Herrmann stepped in like an old pro as a father of five, sharing some advice that encouraged the dad-to-be to keep fighting.
"I don't know exactly where that story line is going yet," Eigenberg says when asked whether Herrmann might take Cruz under his wing as fatherhood approaches. "It's a continuing story, and I don't know if the gestation is going to occur this season. We have like five or six episodes left; it's a short year because of the COVID shutdowns. I would love to be there for him, but I don't have a definite answer to that. He will be a wonderful dad."
Could Cruz and Chloe welcome a little boy in the future who they'd maybe consider naming after Otis? We'll have to stay tuned to find out.
Chicago Fire airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
(Video courtesy of NBC)
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