CHICAGO FIRE's Daniel Kyri on Ritter's Evolution and Diving Deeper into the Character in Season 9 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CHICAGO FIRE’s Daniel Kyri on Ritter’s Evolution and Diving Deeper into the Character in Season 9

November 11, 2020 by  

Chicago Fire Daniel Kyri Interview

CHICAGO FIRE — “That Kind Of Heat” Episode 902 — Pictured: Daniel Kyri as Darren Ritter — (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)

CHICAGO FIRE’s Daniel Kyri has been a delightful addition to Firehouse 51 over the past couple of season, but season 9 marks a big milestone for the actor: it’s his first on the show as a series regular.

“The writers have done a really good job of keeping my character busy [prior to the official promotion],” Kyri acknowledgs. “And we have learned a lot about Darren Ritter, so far, on the show. If there’s anything to notice [about becoming a regular], is that we do get to see a little bit more of him. And consequently, because we’re seeing more of him, we get to see more sides of him.”

Here, Kyri previews diving deeper in Ritter’s development in season 9, how the newest face at the firehouse shakes things up, the “rewarding” look at his character’s love life, and more…

First of all, congratulations on officially becoming a regular on the show. How has this changed things for you, both on-screen and off?
We’re really begin to dive in a little bit more into who he is, what makes him tick. And that’s really exciting for me, because [these] have also been questions that I’ve had about the character that I’ve been playing with for a couple seasons. But now I get to kind of also dive in with the audience, in a more in-depth way, this season. I’m very excited about that, for sure.

These different sides that you’re seeing, are these things that showrunner Derek Haas and the writers had told you about previously and you’re just getting to explore? Or are these things that you’re getting the scripting going, “Oh, I had no clue about this thing”?
It’s a little bit of both. The approach to this season is a little different, I think, from previous seasons. First of all, all the Dick Wolf shows [on NBC] have been picked up for a few seasons already. I think that there gets to be more opportunity for the writers to play with longer term storytelling. Things are having a little bit more of a slow burn when it comes to revealing aspects of the characters. And then you just get to spend more time with all of them.

It is a healthy mix of like them being, “We’ve had this idea, and now we get to do it.” And it’s also relationship things. One of the hooks of watching CHICAGO FIRE week after week is also seeing how the characters’ relationships to one another develop, as well as, of course, the excitement of the incidents and the fire calls and stuff like that.

So, getting to see Ritter have more interaction with the other characters in the firehouse is also interesting, the ways in which they interact with one another.

And you get to see more of Ritter’s dream, right? He’s wanted to be a firefighter for forever. When he was introduced on the show, we kind of saw him have a crisis of doubting himself. We saw Mouch and Herrmann mentor him. Now, we get to see some of the fruits of their labor this season. He steps out and becomes his own man and his own firefighter, and we get to follow him along on that on that journey a little bit more.

What is the timeline like when the show picks up? Are we seeing him shortly after the finale picked up or is it more present day?
There is a time jump, in the sense we’ll be picking up in fall. The storyline picks up [around the real-life time of the premiere]. I don’t think there’s a way to do anything on television now without reflecting the times. We do get to see a bit of that being implemented with temperature checks coming into the firehouse, some civilians in masks, we’ll see those elements at play.

There will still be that sense of escaping into that story of CHICAGO FIRE a little bit, too. The scripts I’ve seen so far, there’s been a really delicate and smart balance between, “Hey, the real world is here and in the storyline” and also “This is still CHICAGO FIRE. We still have our thrills and our in-house little dramas and little comedic moments.” That stuff that makes CHICAGO FIRE CHICAGO FIRE has not been compromised. We have the real-world touches to it to really ground us and let us know where we’re at.

CHICAGO FIRE has one of the largest ensembles on TV. From what you’ve filmed so far, how much are we actually seeing the group together, whether it’s at calls, in the break room, etc.?
Being back, we’re all being as safe as possible, following the protocols. We’re keeping each other safe and looking out for each other. If there are less group scenes, I don’t think you notice very much, only because the emphasis is really on those interpersonal relationships within the firehouse. You get to see interesting pairings.

I’m very excited, because, for instance, we get to see Ritter interacting with the other characters in the firehouse that maybe we may not have seen him with as much. The focus on one-on-one scenes, and also bringing out relationships amongst the firefighters in Firehouse 51 is really being heightened in the text so far.

There’s a new paramedic this season. What is Ritter’s take on Adriyan Rae’s Gianna Mackey?
She’s fresh blood; she’s a new recruit. As we’ve seen with the bromance of Gallo and Ritter, the newer recruits [are about] having each other’s back, showing each other the ropes and really being like welcoming. We’ll see some of that play with with Ritter and Adriyan’s character, Mackey. It’s a fun, new dynamic, and it’s really fresh and exciting, so far. It’s been really good. And Adriyan, she’s so wonderful. I can’t wait for the fans to meet her, she’s great.

Has the addition of someone newer than him really made it hit home that he’s starting to become a vet of 51?
It may not be necessarily directly correlating with newcomers so much as we do get to see him take on more responsibility roles this season. We do get to see him stand out on his own a little bit more, and take on more responsibility. We also just get to see him a little bit more in the act than we’ve ever seen before. So in those ways, for sure, Ritter, takes on a little bit a little bit more of an active role in the firehouse for sure.

One of the things that fans were really excited about last year was kind of learning more about his love life. We’ve gotten kind of glimpses of that, but how much will we see this year, so far?
There’s a some stuff. [Laughs.] This is one where I’m really not wanting to give some stuff away. But we’ll get a little bit more of a peek into Ritter’s love life. I think the fans will be happy.

You may not be able to answer this, but it feels like the events of this year have made people stop and reconsider relationships, both in good and bad ways. How much is that playing into Ritter’s life?
Ooh. I think you’ve got a good instinct. [Laughs.] And that’s all I’m going to say. It’ll just be so rewarding and so much fun for folks to follow along this season.

It’s a really beautiful and delicate dance that the folks in the writers’ room are engaged with, with how those elements of the real world and what’s happened, all the unpredictable, crazy things that have occurred this year, and how they affect Firehouse 51 personally. I think it’ll be really interesting to see that navigation play out this season, in all aspects.

I know you’re really early in the production of the season, but from what you’ve filmed so far, what are you most excited for fans to see?
I’m very, very excited for fans to really see the focus on relationships this season. It’s so incredible. And it’s always been a part of the show, it has always been there, I just think that the way that it’s being highlighted and represented this season, it’s going to be really, really special.

Because we have to do things the way that we do, it’s a turning point for the show—for the better. Each season just keeps going up and up and up; season 9 is no exception. So I’m ecstatic for that. And I’m very, very excited for fans to get to know and learn more [about]—and spend more time with—Ritter. It’s going to be a very special season for him. I’m thrilled. In a lot of ways, it kind of feels like we’re introducing the fans to more parts of the characters. That’s the best way to tell the story. So I’m stoked about that.

CHICAGO FIRE, Season Premiere, Wednesday, November 11, 9/8c


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