Charlie Barnett Chicago Fire is best known for his role of Peter Mills on NBC’s Chicago Fire. Before getting the role, Barnett had made appearances in everything from Men in Black III to Law in Order. Barnett said this role has changed his life forever.
Q: How did you get involved in the show?
Barnett: I auditioned in September I think and I didn’t hear anything for like a month. Then I got this random call that I had gotten a call back. I went in and tested a couple of times then got the call. I left the next day from LA to Chicago. It was really crazy, like a slap in the face, like WOAH. I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket and just wanted to see what was going to happen. I was so happy to have the opportunity and it seems to be going well.
Q: What drew you in to the character of Mills?
Barnett: When you are an actor that just graduated from school, you are just trying to get a job. It’s a funny thing but when you are in that place as an actor you are going in to anything and just trying to land it. However, Mills was a lot like me which was really a plus, especially for television. When I first read him, I thought we were very similar. We both have that wide eyed look at life and can make good out of anything. Always wanting to be a hero. What I love about the show is that Peter is changing throughout the season because of circumstances happening around him. It is making him become more grounded and more routed as a man which is something that I have looked for. I think we both started in the same position, he is going into his dream of becoming a firefighter and I was kind of just stepping into my first part and following my dreams.
Q: I interviewed Monica Raymund and we discussed Dawson and Mills relationship — but Mills has put him through the ringer. They have given Mills one problem after another.
Barnett: Thank you! [laughs].
Q: What is going on?
Barnett: I know, everyone was like why would you break up with Dawson you are an idiot. I was like oh man, I am having some issues people! [laughs]. The challenge of the emotions is kind of the fun part. You sign up for that becoming an actor. I think, for me, it sucks because it distances you from the rest of the cast. When you are playing an emotional moment you need to prepare. When you can’t sit and play and have fun, it sucks. Our set is so fun, especially during our off time which is like a blast. But as an actor I love it. I love being able to rip open my chest sometimes and show it to everyone.
Q: I am so fascinated that you walk onto set, meet your fellow actors, and then a few weeks down the line do a romantic scene with someone. It has to be weird?
Barnett: Besides Monica being incredible gorgeous, awesome, smart, and fun — she is literally like the best kind of girl you could get to work with. I went to college with her so I knew her prior to working on the show and we were good friends. I have known her since I was a kid because she lived in the next town from me. So, that light has been going for a while so it wasn’t hard to jump into bed with Monica [laughs].
Q: Now I am going to get to the questions that you are not going to answer. But season one ends and now I have a ton of questions. What is going on with Mills because he ends up at a police station. Is he changing careers?
Barnett: Well… what can I tell you. Honestly, they kept me in the dark for a long time. I still kind of don’t really know where Peter Mills is going to end up. I know when we come back, we see Peter Mills still weighing the question. He is not really sure where he is going to end up. I can say that personally, Charlie, wants to be a firefighter, he wants him to stick it out. He comes from a long line of firefighters and I think it’s really important to him and I don’t think he would quit that easily. I know in the past he has said that he wanted to become a cop previously. So, I don’t know. I think for him he wants to serve.
Q: But do you think that the possible move into the police academy could be more a revengeful move for him because he didn’t get on squad?
Barnett: Absolutely. It’s like a change of a person, which is pretty cool. It’s never been done on a prime time show so I am game to run with it if thats what happens. Although I don’t agree with it [laughs]. I will go for it — but I really don’t know whats going to happen. I know how I feel about Peter Mills but it’s kind of fun to see where the writers take it.
Q: What can you tell me about season two?
Barnett: There are a lot more fires and accidents this season. With the other cast coming in to it from Chicago PD, there are a bunch of twists and turns that feed into our story lines. These people are in these really life situations so it almost feels so real. He is also avoiding his past relationship with Dawson and he is going to have to face it because he has some real interesting things coming up. I got some challenges ahead.
Catch Barnett on Chicago Fire tonight at 10pm EST on NBC.
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