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Alberto Rosende Talks That Shocking Chicago Fire Roof Scene—Which Had Gallo in Tears
It was a tough episode for the young firefighter.
Chicago Fire Season 11, Episode 8 was tough for Gallo (Alberto Rosende). The episode starts with Gallo doing what he does best: making an in-the-moment, under-pressure call that ultimately saves a fire victim's life. But Sam Carver (Jake Lockett), the firefighter working with him, isn't happy. Carver knocks Gallo for going rogue and says his limited tenure emboldened him to make such a risky choice. You see, Carver has years of experience on the job and tells Gallo he's seen enough to know not to act so impulsively. Gallo brushes this off; however, the theme comes back later in the episode when Gallo makes another off-the-cuff call to help a man trapped on a roof.
But he's not trapped. This man has locked the roof door and intends to jump. Gallo, out of his element, attempts to talk the man down from suicide. And just when he thinks he's done it, the man jumps. It's a shocking, heartbreaking moment that shakes Gallo to his core. In a later scene, we see Gallo punching a bag furiously, tears streaming. Carver, empathetic to the situation, takes Gallo out that night to get his mind off things—and their hangout ends with Gallo crying even more. Could a more experienced firefighter have prevented the situation? Ultimately, Carver tells Gallo no—and that it's Gallo's quick-thinking that gave the man a fighting chance in the first place. It seems the new friends learned something from each other, which they'll take with them on future jobs.
Below, Rosende recaps this nail-biting episode with NBC Insider. Read on.
NBC Insider: This was such an intense episode. How did you feel reading the script?
Alberto Rosende: One of the cool things about being on Fire is we have such a big cast. Every episode, it’s really exciting to see what my friends and colleagues are gonna be doing and what part of their artistry they’re gonna get to showcase. And then the beautiful thing is when those episodes fall onto you. I remember when I first got here, a few of us were talking about how to be in this cast, you have to have the ability to be in the background and be really a team player. But then also when it’s your turn to hit, people tend to hit home runs.
I knew this was my chance to go for that, so I was super excited. [After reading the script], I immediately texted the writer and was like, “You did an awesome job.” This episode had me gripping the pages as I read it. I actually was at dinner with my family when I got it, and I ended up kind of checking out of dinner and reading the whole episode. They were like, “Are you OK?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m fine; this is just a really good episode for me.”
How did you prepare for the scene between Gallo and the man on the roof?
I can’t ever talk highly enough about our stunt team. The fact that they figured out a practical way to have a stunt person leap from the roof was so cool. It helped so much when it came to [film]. In my mind, this was the first time Gallo’s ever seen someone do this. He’s probably been there at the end of an event like that to, for lack of a better phrase, pick up the pieces and clean up the street and get pedestrians to keep moving again. He’s probably been there for that. But I don’t think he’s ever seen that moment when someone’s made a decision that he can’t fathom.
I didn’t really want to over-prepare. I wanted to be present in the moment. I wanted to be there with the other actors…There were all these things where I was like, “I don’t need to do too much here, 'cause the work, the writing itself, is doing a lot of it.” The directing was awesome. Working through that scene, what the beats were. When can I step closer? I don’t want to spook him. How loudly should I speak? I also want to seem like I’m in charge, like I’m under control. But also, at the same time, it’s his scene, not mine. There were a lot of little things that were part of the process on the day. And then it was just being present, 'cause even though I knew it was a stunt gag, to see someone leap from 28 floors up is jarring.
What do you think was running through his mind in the immediate aftermath of witnessing something so horrific?
Have you ever been in a place where your frustration starts from a place of confusion? When I read that he leaps off the building, my jaw dropped at the dinner table. My family was like, “What happened?” I was like, “I can’t tell you, but oh my God.” But it comes from a place of confusion. The whole scene is built to [make viewers] think, “Look at Gallo, saving the guy again. He’s got him on his side, they’re both comfortable now.” It really gives this false sense of security. There’s such complete confusion. “How could someone [do that]?. I was right there. Why didn’t I reach out? Why didn’t I do more?” That is what I think inspires that rabbit hole he digs himself down. The confusion that then bubbles into anger for not having done more.
And then also one of the things I think pulled through the episode was if there was someone more experienced there. Would they have been able to save him?... There’s this break in Gallo's armor. Maybe he’s not as strong as he should be. Maybe he’s not as fast as he should be. Maybe he’s not as grounded as he should be. Maybe he’s still thinking about these things like a child and needs to kind of grow up. All the thoughts that Carver puts in his head in the beginning of the episode are part of that downward spiral.
Carver may have criticized Gallo, but in the end, he tells Gallo that he’s a hell of a firefighter. I’m curious about their friendship.
I think Carver finds a [good] place working with Gallo. We learn that neither one of them is gonna feel that they know more anymore. They have new ground for their friendship in a way. Carver came in saying, “I’m more experienced, you should listen to me.” And then he has a couple of examples seeing how Gallo’s an exceptional firefighter. There’s now mutual respect. Gallo trusts Carver to be there for him, to have his back. We’re a family at 51, and in this episode, we see Carver take that step into being a member of the family.
How do you think this experience will change Gallo as a firefighter?
I think one thing we’ve seen Gallo trying to learn over the course of these three seasons so far is how to take all his unbridled passion and energy and excitement and shape that into being an exceptional firefighter. We see this mold of someone who’s young and excited. That has the potential. And we get to watch him shape it. I do think this will be one of the more grounding things we’ll see Gallo go through...That puts Gallo on the path to being a better leader. A better member of the firehouse. A better person. But, of course, that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s continued work.