He may be best-known for his eight-year stint in US medical series House, but like most Aussie actors of his era, Jesse Spencer got his first big break on Down Under soap Neighbours. Following in the footsteps of Guy Pierce, he’s managed to shrug off the cheesy label associated with Aussie soaps. Since House first aired in 2004, Spencer has had a full-time role as Dr Robert Chase in the quirky medical series, which finally came to a halt in May this year. But, the 33-year-old hasn’t wasted any time in getting back onto the small screen. Here he tells us about playing a fireman in US producer Dick Wolf’s new series, Chicago Fire.
Did you have any concerns about going directly into another TV show after spending eight years on House?
Sure, absolutely. But this came around, and it was nice to get out of LA for a bit and to be in a real city. Chicago’s like Melbourne – there’s a city centre, there’s public transport, and there’s more of a cultural scene. It’s got some history, whereas LA’s more of a sprawl. I miss the beaches because I surf, but it’s nice to be in a city, and Chicago is a city.
Have you spoken to local firemen to get an insight into the series?
We have firefighters on set all the time. Our chief consultant, Steve Chikerotis, is a firefighter’s firefighter. Every instance we have so far, like a car crash or a fire, it’s all based on a real story he experienced or acquaintances of his experienced. I also did ride-alongs and some firefighter training at the Chicago Fire Academy.
The few reviews of Chicago Fire so far have been mixed.
They haven’t even finished the pilot yet. [Laughs] They’re reshooting some of the pilot tonight.
One reviewer said she wanted more beefcake.
More ab shots from you and co-star Taylor Kinney.
They’ll get that down the line, I’m sure. At least it wasn’t, ‘Oh, too many guys without their shirts on.’
Your father and three siblings are doctors. Did they give you notes on playing a doctor in House?
They couldn’t watch it. They were very nice about it. It’s frustrating to watch if it’s in your field because, as medically accurate as House was, we take a little creative licence. My brother rang me up once.
He’d been watching House, something had come up, and he didn’t know what it was. He went and studied it, and it was on his exam the next day. It helped him pass his exam. And I was like, Yes! [Laughs]. Saving the world.
There were several articles about you dating fellow House actor Jennifer Morrison. Now that you’re dating surfer Maya Gabeira, do you find you’ve escaped from the public eye a little?
A lot. All of my girlfriends have been actors, and I’ve realised that maybe it’s not for me – I need to find something else outside of the industry. And Maya, she’s still in an industry that’s sort of similar. I can relate to it: she’s in the public eye a bit. Her father [Fernando Gabeira] is actually a controversial politician in Brazil, and a great guy.
Controversial in what way?
You can look it up. [Laughs]
Watch Chicago Fire online from Dhs7 per episode at www.amazon.com.