Celebrity Interviews: In The Line Of Fire: Eamonn Walker Is Chief Boden




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Samantha Ofole-Prince

Television shows focusing on police and firefighters have long been a favorite among viewers. The mystery, excitement, and drama, tend to keep fans coming back for more.
“Some people like the adrenaline, for it takes a special type of human being to run towards a fire instead of running away from it,” says British actor Eamonn Walker, who plays Battalion Chief Wallace Boden on NBC’s hour-long ensemble series “Chicago Fire.”

The father figure of the firehouse, Boden is the sensible voice on a team of firefighters and paramedics working at a local firehouse station, and for TV veteran Walker, who starred as Kareem Said, the Muslim leader on the prison drama “OZ”; it’s an honor to play such a heroic character.

“Every day when I go to work, it doesn’t feel like I am going to work, and the ten year-old in me jumps up and down,” shares Walker. “I have managed to play some really exciting characters, which don’t fit into any box, and Chief Boden fits that role. It’s an honor to be and portray this man who will protect his men at all costs.”

Walker, a talented, compelling performer known for his depth, integrity and ability to give life to the most layered of characters, credits Sidney Poitier's performance in "In the Heat of the Night" as the inspiration that led him to become an actor.

“I was nine years-old when I saw ‘In the Heat of the Night’ and it blew my mind.  I remember turning around to my mother at the time telling her that I want to be an actor.”

His numerous television credits include the NBC series "Kings" where he garnered rave reviews, the Jerry Bruckheimer series "Justice," "The Whole Truth," also for Bruckheimer, "The Governor," and the BBC's "Bonekickers." Movies include a performance as Howlin Wolf in "Cadillac Records," opposite Adrien Brody, Jeffrey Wright, and Beyonce Knowles, "The Messenger" opposite Woody Harrelson, “Tears of the Sun," and M. Night Shamaylan's "Unbreakable."

For Walker, accepting a role on screen, stage or television all boils down to good writing.
“I turn down roles all the time. Where I come from, it’s all about good writing. If the writing is not there, I can’t be a part of it because there has to be a part of me that has to identify with what is being said on the page. Nine times out of ten, I will choose a really good script whether it’s television, screen or stage. That is what I love about this show, ‘Chicago Fire,’ the writing and the camaraderie amongst men and women.”

A series created by Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order”), it centers on the inner workings of Chicago Firehouse 51, an Illinois based firehouse that responds to emergencies ranging from false alarms to major disasters. It’s a series about firemen in real working conditions and the craft of firefighting.

“We have discovered a way of how the camera can be with us in the situation while we recreate a fire. You get to see the emotional roller-coaster of how it affects these men and women.  You see them in dangerous situations run into a building, working in zero visibility, and feeling their way around the building gasping for air.”

To perfect the part, Walker took an intensive crash course at the Chicago Fire Academy, where they train real fireman.

“What most guys will take six months to learn, we had a week to do. I had no idea the amount that you need to know in terms of fire science and initially thought it was an easy job.”

The drama features an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney as firefighters and paramedics played by Lauren German and Monica Raymund, and is an edge of your seat drama that offers audiences an uncompromising portrayal of Chicago city firefighters whose duty to save lives puts their own in constant turmoil.

“Boden’s job is to keep his team safe. It’s his job to be able to read the fire and know the different colors of smoke, to taking care of his men when they are in the building. He is protective, and he is paternal,” adds Walker. “I am hoping that with the writing and the development of the character that I am on a discovery level, and that every week, there is a little more revealed about who this man actually is.”

 “Chicago Fire” is produced by Universal Television and Wolf Films and airs Wednesdays on NBC (10-11 p.m. ET).

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