CHICAGO FIRE: Hanako Greensmith on the 'Completely Shattered' Fallout: Violet is Experiencing 'Some of the Hardest Grief a Person Can Go Through' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CHICAGO FIRE: Hanako Greensmith on the ‘Completely Shattered’ Fallout: Violet is Experiencing ‘Some of the Hardest Grief a Person Can Go Through’

October 10, 2022 by  

Violet grieving Hawkins death

CHICAGO FIRE — “Completely Shattered” Episode 1103 — Pictured: Hanako Greensmith as Violet Mikami — (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains major, major spoilers from CHICAGO FIRE’s “Completely Shattered.”]

After spending much of last year trying to figure out what the heck their relationship actually was, CHICAGO FIRE’s Violet (Hanako Greensmith) and Hawkins (Jimmy Nicholas) finally got their act together in the season 11 premiere and decided to give their relationship a real (public!) chance.

For almost two episodes, the duo were happy—planning a trip together, having lunch with Violet’s friend/coworker Brett (Kara Killmer)…being refreshingly normal, after spending so much time hidden or trying to deny how they really felt about each other.

And then things fell apart in a nanosecond.

When Firehouse 51—and surrounding units—came together to try and put out a fire at a movie theater in “Completely Shattered,” it initially seemed like they had managed to save all the civilians. But Hawkins spotted a man struggling and raced to save him…as the building crumbled on them both.

Firehouse 51 scrambled to remove both men from the rubble, but it was too late—Hawkins was dead. Not deterred, Violet desperately tried to save him, until Boden (Eamonn Walker) had to step in to pull her away from Hawkins’ body.

In the aftermath, naturally, Violet will be changed. “All of her life [from] before is completely different,” Greensmith tells Give Me My Remote. “Everything moving forward from this point, for her, is going to change…in the most pivotal way you can see Violet change, you will see her change.”

Here, Greensmith breaks down the end of Hawkami and filming “Completely Shattered,” as well as previewing how Violet will navigate her grief…

Violet grieving Hawkins death

CHICAGO FIRE — “Every Scar Tells a Story” Episode 1102 — Pictured: (l-r) Hanako Greensmith as Violet, Jimmy Nicholas as Chief Hawkins — (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC)

When did you learn Hawkins was going to die?
I learned probably a few weeks before we got back on set to start season 11. So I definitely had been stressfully gearing up for this moment to occur when it finally did.

Was this something that you had to keep secret from the rest of your cast?
I mean, it was definitely hot gossip. As soon as we got back, we’re like, “Godd–n, did you hear what’s going to happen?!” Everyone just kind of loved on Jimmy as much as we could, until his very last day, so that we could soak up our last few moments with him.

How did that knowledge impact your approach in filming the episodes, especially as they finally got together in a real way?
Oh, God, it was incredibly bittersweet. Because we’re trying to enjoy these last few moments we had together in this blissful, unaware, happiness together. And, at the same time, with this very dark knowledge that our characters don’t have, obviously, which is this is our last scene doing this together, this is our last scene doing that together. This is the last time we’ll kiss in the scene, the last time we’ll say, “I love you.” Well, the first and last time for “I love you”—there were a lot of firsts and lasts for our arc together.

Looking to Hawkins’ death itself, it was a gorgeously done scene, but it also had a lot of moving pieces: stunts on top of physical action and deeply emotional moments. What was the filming process like?
I can’t speak, unfortunately, for a lot of the stunt aspect of it. Jimmy did a lot of his own work; he was covered up with like scrapes and bruises just from the many times that he would have to just lunge and fall and pretend that a building was falling on top of him. Our stunt team was great, did it over and over again.

I wasn’t there for that part of it. Thankfully, I had some time off to just kind of process what I needed to. And then for me, it was really just a matter of leaping over asphalt and somehow finding ways to maybe bruise and scrape myself, but nothing quite as intense as our beloved Jimmy. [Laughs.] So, luckily, I got out of it relatively physically unscathed.

Violet grieving Hawkins death

Credit: NBC/Peacock screencap

There’s a gutting moment as Boden has to hold back Violet when it’s very clear Hawkins is gone…and she doesn’t want to stop trying to save him. What was the partnership like with Eamonn in getting that moment right?
The beautiful thing about our cast is there’s just such a close connection amongst, and between, all of us. Eamonn and I have our own special relationship, where there wasn’t actually much that needed to be said. He just said, “Are you comfortable with me holding you back?” And I said, “Of course I am.” And as soon as we did our first rehearsal, it just felt immediately right.

Actually, that was the thing that really kept me engaged in the many takes of that scene—just that physical restriction of not being able to touch Hawkins ever again. Knowing that the moment I had with him was the last moment, and the only thing holding me back is my chief. Knowing that he is doing it for every possible helpful aspect for Violet in the long run. So I think that physicality was really helpful, and it came very naturally to him and myself. And after that scene, he said, “We now have a new relationship.” That scene has definitely deepened our relationship in a big way.

How has it been to see the fan reaction to the death, the loss of this couple, and the episode as a whole?
I definitely caught a glimpse of it, for sure. Quite honestly, I was definitely anticipating a huge amount of grief. I knew how much people loved Hawkins and love Jimmy. And I’m so grateful for the love they have for Hawkami, as well.

But I honestly did not expect to feel such a beautiful barrage of complimentary energy towards my work in the episode. I really thought the main event was the fact that we were losing such a major relationship on the show. And so that has been incredibly rewarding and it’s been incredibly humbling to recognize this deep love that our fans have not just for the characters, but for us as actors, as well.

I’ve just been so endlessly grateful for so much of this energy and love I’ve been receiving the past few days. It’s not at all what I was expecting. So, again, I’m so humbled and so, so deeply grateful.

I also feel the writing lended itself to a lot of that, too. All those little details like Boden holding me back and Hawkins’ eyes being open—so many of those details were scripted. And I think that also helped orchestrate a true, utter heartbreak, in the biggest way possible.

Where do we find Violet in Wednesday’s episode, “The Center of the Universe,” as she’s dealing with the grief more directly?

I think you’re gonna see a person that is going through some of the hardest grief a person can go through. You’re gonna see her struggle with accepting help, as I think a lot of people do, in a lot of different instances—and grief being the biggest one of them. You’re going to see her accept it, and you’re going to see her take it on in the best way that she can, and see how that inspires her to move forward…or to not. You’re gonna recognize all the magic of 51, because of course that’s a special energy that comes with being a part of Firehouse 51.

With grief, people can often either throw themselves into work or retreat entirely. Which way does Violet lean?
So much of Violet is perfectionism and focus on execution, and we have never seen her struggle. We have never seen her really surrender to something that is emotionally bigger than she can handle. And so I think with knowing what she’s been able to successfully execute at work before…all of her life [from] before is completely different. Everything moving forward from this point, for her, is going to change. So I think in the most pivotal way you can see Violet change, you will see her change, if that gives you an idea of what to anticipate as far as her returning to work.

Are we going to see a funeral or memorial for Hawkins?
A lot of the goodbye will be through Violet, by her own personal journey with having to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer here. And what is the way in which she can keep his memory alive when he is no longer here?


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A post shared by Jimmy Nicholas (@jimmynicks)

That makes sense. On that note, Jimmy posted an Instagram post before last week’s episode teasing a scene from the hour airing this week. Are we going to see a dream or flashback, or was that just a scene you guys knew was deleted from an earlier episode and he didn’t want to tip his hands?
I can’t say that it’s a full scene, but it is certainly imagery which you will see in the episode. You will certainly see us together in some way in the episode.

Looking to the firehouse as a whole, they’ve all experienced their fair share of losses, especially on the job. How are her colleagues navigating her grief in the coming months?
You will see an unexpected relationship kind of blossom out of this—not in a romantic way, but in an emotionally intimate way—with a character that you’ve never really seen interact with Violet before. And I think that just comes with this familiarity with losing someone, especially a loved one, in such a traumatic way.

There is an invisible kind of connected material that is born out of something as traumatic as that. And that’s definitely going to inspire a whole new community for Violet now that her life is forever changed. Our director, Stephen Cragg, he lost his wife. And so having him there as a reference point, he would talk about there’s a before in your life and then there’s the after of your life when you lose your partner. And there’s a certain community that shows up for you, because people who have never gone through this will never know what it’s like. But for the people who have gone through this, they know exactly what it’s like. And they know exactly how to show up for each other.

That’s what you’ll see in a relationship starting in the firehouse for Violet—just to kind of be in her corner in a way where not everyone in that firehouse will understand loss or otherwise. It’s a very particular type of grief and loss.

To get a little into your process as a performer, you’ve had a few years to play Violet. With this fundamental change in who she is, what new challenges have you gotten to tackle in playing her now?

I had so much joy in playing this really crass version of Violet. She’s very blunt. She’s very honest. She’s very scientifically by the book. And she’s not afraid of executing her job in the best way she can, even if that means…not necessarily hurting someone in the process, but maybe not being quite as caring in the process, quite as warm.

I think, now, when she’s encountering people who are going through their worst day of their life when she comes on a call, that’s not something that she looks at quite as clinically anymore. She comes at it with someone with true deep perspective. And that changes a lot of the way that she wants to go about her work.

That’s been a challenge for me, because my instinct is so much to be this kind of funnier, lighter, stronger force of Violet. But now I realize she is a much more layered, deep character with this new information. And I think implementing that has been really challenging and really powerful, all in one.

I’m really anxious for everybody to see the new Violet. I’m really anxious for the material to come out, because it’s a whole new version of who she is.

And I realize, too, that we’re losing so much by losing this wonderfully comfortable, loving, passionate love story. And so I just hope that I do justice to what this process might feel like. I’m so lucky to say—and knock on wood—I don’t know even remotely what it’s like to go through what she’s going through. I hope that people who watch this, who have gone through something even remotely similar, that it touches upon the reality of it. I hope it provides some sort of respect.

I really hope that people are able to be there with Violet in this moment. And respect the work that not just me, but everyone—writers, cast, crew—has committed to executing with this very, very sad storyline.

CHICAGO FIRE, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC


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