On Chicago Fire, you play Sylvie Brett’s childhood friend, Hope. How do you prepare to play her before each shoot?
I've been wanting to play a character who is nothing but trouble for a long time now. When Hope showed up, I was thrilled to get to play someone with a darker side. When preparing to play her, hair, makeup and wardrobe played a huge part for me. She is someone who has a very crafted veneer and cares very much about how other people perceive her. This expresses itself physically, but also emotionally. I spent a lot of time thinking about the way that she presented one thing when people were looking and something much darker when people weren't. Before shooting I made sure that I was channeling both her outward confidence and also that inner desperate sadness that she tries so hard to hide.
What has your experience with the show been like?
I love this cast and crew so much. It has been an absolute delight to get to work with them. They are a family through and through. It's also been moving to learn more about real firefighters through this show. Many of the background artists and other people on set are actual firefighters and I've been lucky to get to spend time with them. Especially as so much of California and the West Coast has been consumed by wildfires this fall, witnessing the incredibly selfless commitment these men and women have made and then seeing that multiplied across the country has been truly humbling.
Where do you like to go in the city after the work day is over?
I completely fell in love with Chicago while working here. One of my favorite ways to get to know a city is to ask everyone at work for their suggestions on what not to miss. I make a list and do my very best to cross everything off. My favorites? The boat architecture tour, vintage shopping in Andersonville, the Art Institute, going to a Cubs game, seeing plays at The Lookingglass Theatre and Steppenwolf, the 606 and lots and lots of just walking the neighborhoods and finding things along the way.
Fifty Shades Freed is coming out this winter—how are you feeling ahead of the release?
I'm really pumped! This third movie was such a blast to shoot. All of us got close working together over the past four years and we got to do some really fun things in this last one (my lips are sealed about what they are.) It's always so fun to see the movies up on the big screen and most importantly, getting to see the fans' reactions. We have such a phenomenal fan base and I'm really excited to celebrate the final film in this trilogy with them.
Hope and Kate are very different characters, but are there any surprising similarities between the two women?
Hope and Kate are so different! From the outside, it's hard to find a lot of similarities other than I think they both love to be the life of the party. But while Kate is a true blue friend through and through, Hope is only looking out for herself. As an actor, I consider it my job to always take the side of my character while portraying them because no matter how badly people are behaving, they usually believe they are justified in some way. I find the best portrayals of villains are always when their humanity has been found by the actor playing them. So I approached Kate and Hope from that same place of finding what motivates, inspires and scares them—just one of them I would want to be friends with in real life and one I wouldn't!