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Chicago Fire Showrunners Derek Haas And Andrea Newman Talk Season 11 – Exclusive Interview

As the flagship series in the One Chicago franchise, "Chicago Fire" has been through a lot as it enters Season 11, which premieres tonight on NBC. Last season alone, the show lost its long-running lead Jesse Spencer (who portrayed Captain Matt Casey), temporarily replaced beloved paramedic Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) with the villainous Emma, and saw Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) finally tie the knot.

It's certainly been a roller-coaster ride — one that's sure to continue for however long the show runs. (Considering "Chicago Fire" is still a ratings juggernaut for NBC, it's probably safe to assume there are at least a few more seasons left for the fictional Firehouse 51 team.)

During an exclusive interview with Looper, "Chicago Fire" showrunners Derek Haas and Andrea Newman dished on who their favorite characters are, what it was like having Spencer back for the Season 10 finale, and what to expect from the upcoming season.

There are 'no plans' to bring Jesse Spencer back again

First and foremost, we need to know what it was like having Jesse Spencer back for last season's finale. Might we see him again?

Derek Haas: We 1,000% love Jesse Spencer. It was absolutely incredible to have him back, as it would be any time he wants to come and grace us and his "Chicago Fire" friends and family. He is one of the family.

Andrea Newman: Love.

Haas: But we don't have plans right now [to bring him back again]. He's an extremely busy actor who can pretty much walk onto whatever he wants to walk onto. The invitation is always there from our end, but there are no plans right now.

Should we assume he and Brett are over, or is that still open?

Newman: That's open going into the premiere, for sure. We know that they're struggling. There was a bittersweet quality to their time together at the wedding, but it is not yet resolved. There are definitely decisions to be made.

Haas: Long distance is hard.

Last season ended on a high note with Kelly and Stella getting married, but also there was the ominous truck pulling up at their honeymoon cabin. What can you tell us about the season premiere in terms of that storyline and beyond?

Haas: Well, that truck is actually the gardeners coming for the cabin. They had to do at-night mowing. [laughs] Andrea, you can answer that question.

Newman: We were just talking about the fact that we've been referring to this premiere as the roller coasters that start by not building up slowly but just com[ing] on [strong]. They're called surge coasters, and they come out [at] top speed from the start. That's what this premiere is for us. It starts picking up right where we left off, [with] the mayhem that ensues once Severide and Kidd realize that there's someone outside the cabin. 

The episode has some fun twists and turns with that story, but it's also Severide having to struggle with the fact that he's no longer a single guy who can make decisions that only impact him. He's married, and Severide and Kidd are a family, so everything he does now affects her as well. That's going to be a big part of his journey.

David Eigenberg always 'crushes it' as Herrmann

Of all the One Chicago shows, "Fire" is my personal favorite.

Newman: Ours too. Yay!

It has so many great characters, and it's a little more lighthearted than the other two. Do either of you have a personal favorite character you can share?

Haas: We love them all. We've been writing them [for] so long now — both Andrea and [me] for 11 years — they get to be a part of you, because there's always a part of you that goes into the characters, and you like them for different reasons. It's funny because [you can be] sitting in the writers' room and having so many great writers who can say two words like "Boden" and "Halloween," [and] you already know that's going to be hilarious. There's a million of them. I don't want to speak for Andrea, but I like writing them all.

There are days where you're like, "Just give me a Stella Kidd episode." There are days when you're like, "This ambulance is going to shine today." Then there's David Eigenberg, who's 11 years in, and you get a storyline where you know he's going to crush it.

Newman: They're all on the script. You're writing a certain script, and you're like, "Why don't I make Herrmann the main story in every episode? These are so fun and he's so good." Then the same thing happens the next time, when you're writing a Kidd story, or a Mouch story, or even Cruz — we adore that character, and the actor [who plays him] can do anything. You focus on one storyline, and that character becomes your favorite, and then [with] the next storyline you write, you jump. We're lucky.

How about a funny memory from last season? [Does] anything memorable stand out?

Haas: For me, it was that I knew Randy Flagler, who plays Capp, played the drum. So that became a writers' room pitch — how do we get Capp playing the drums? And it got funnier and funnier as it went. The actor ended up bonding with these 16-year-olds that they picked up at School of Rock or something. Watching that whole thing coming together from start to finish was a top memory for me.

Newman: For me, it was watching Christian Stolte, who plays Mouch, learn the bagpipes for our bagpipes story when he was trying to get into the CFD Pipes and Drums [band]. He's such a funny guy, and it was a great storyline and showcase for his abilities. He put his kilt on and he played those bagpipes.

COVID has put a halt to any major crossover events

Violet and Evan have been a big storyline, but I missed the Violet-Gallo-Ritter Three Musketeers-type vibe that was going on for a couple seasons. Might that return, or have we moved past that?

Newman: It will definitely return. We love it too. Gallo and Ritter are a huge part of Violet's life. That friendship, that triangle, is going to be a big part of her life in this season.

Haas: Yeah, the Three Musketeers will be riding again.

Ritter is one of my favorite characters. I'd like to see more of him.

Newman: We love him; he's so great. He's another one we always find to be, as we say, lightning in a bottle. You find these actors who can do all these things that our show requires, from action to romance to comedy, and it's gold. He's got it all.

Is Emma, who was a thorn in Violet's side last season, gone for good, or will she rear her head again?

Haas: If I have my druthers, she will rear her head again. But you know me — I'll bring back Gorsh, I'll bring back Hope ...

Newman: The more evil [they are], the more Derek loves them.

Haas: I love evil characters.

Because of COVID, there haven't been any crossover events for a couple years, but might we see one this season?

Newman: We're definitely doing a lot of the smaller crossover elements with characters. Our characters are on "Chicago Med" in the beginning and vice versa. We have some "Chicago P.D." guys on our show. It's all been the COVID protocol stopping us from being able to do the big crossovers. It gets really complicated. We're hoping to be able to do one, but as of right now, we don't have one scheduled. Everybody's always got that on their mind as they plot forward. We're always talking about it.

Haas: As writers, we try to figure out how to get Trudy Platt, Mouch's wife, onto "Fire" [at] any chance that we can get.

Newman: Yeah, we love her. She's in a bunch of episodes this season so far already because we love her.

Season 11 of "Chicago Fire" premieres tonight, September 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

This interview has been edited for clarity.