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Chicago Fire's Eamonn Walker Reveals How He Slips Into Boden's Accent

Starring on NBC's hit action-drama "Chicago Fire" since the series' 2012 pilot episode (per IMDb), veteran actor Eamonn Walker epitomizes the gruff, all-American, thoroughly Chicagoan Firehouse 51 Battalion Chief Wallace Boden. But what some viewers may not realize is that while the actor sounds 100% born-and-bred Chi-Town native, he actually hails from London. And the truth is, when not fulfilling his on-camera duties on "Chicago Fire," Walker speaks with a pronounced and unmistakable British accent.

Talking to Assignment X about his own facility with specific accents for characters like Chief Boden on "Chicago Fire," Walker explained, "I have an ear, I guess, for the musicality of the voice." He noted that his acting philosophy includes utilizing his entire body as his dramatic "toolbox," adding that an accent is only part of what it takes to bring a character believably to life. "Sometimes an accent is easy and sometimes one isn't," he admitted. "So it's much more about building the character, which comes from the piece, rather than doing an accent." That being said, how does this London native describe the way he takes on Chief Boden's accent on "Chicago Fire"?

Eamonn Walker compares speaking in an American accent to donning a comfy suit

For Eamonn Walker, his early days as a British actor playing American characters in U.S. productions had him questioning whether he could pull off the required accent. Interviewed on NBC 10 Philadelphia, he revealed that, "When I first arrived [in America] in 1997 ... I was petrified that I had to do an American accent in front of Americans and working with Americans."

In the same interview, Walker added that he was no longer in the position of doubting his American accent, thanks to his work with various voice coaches in New York and later in Chicago. He then went on to recount the story of the time his voice teacher had him listen to actual Chicago fire chiefs as examples of how they speak on the job. The voice coach got him some tapes, he recalled, but he admitted that "The first voice that we picked up on and I started doing, I was like, 'oh god he sounds white and that's not going to work.'" But the next voice was from a Black fire chief, and that firefighter's voice eventually formed the basis of Wallace Boden's vocal characteristics. As for whether or not the Boden accent comes easily for Walker, he noted that these days, "I can put him on like I'm putting on an old suit."