Christian Stolte, ‘Chicago Fire’ reach TV milestone

Rick's Reviews

Christian Stolte (right), who plays Randall “Mouch” McHolland on “Chicago Fire,” is seen here with “Chicago PD” actor Amy Morton who plays his wife. (Photo courtesy of NBC/Universal)

The NBC drama “Chicago Fire” joins a very impressive list of network television shows that have been on the air for 10 seasons and 200 episodes with the 9 p.m. Oct. 20 airing. Other series to have marked that milestone include “Friends,” “Roseanne,” “CSI: Miami” and “Smallville.”

Christian Stolte is one of a handful of actors on “Chicago Fire” who has been with the series from the start. His character of Randall “Mouch” McHolland is a seasoned veteran who will do anything to protect his fellow firefighters and his coveted spot on the firehouse couch.

Stolte describes getting to play the role over all the years as being good from a stability standpoint and bad from an acting perspective.

“That’s the entire push-pull of the whole situation,” Stolte says. “After 10 seasons, the level of comfort I have with the people I work with on our sets and on our locations, it will be hard for me to ever have that feeling again. The idea of consistent employment for an actor is insane.

“In the meantime, I do get that impulse to go play a cowboy. I want to play a member of a motorcycle gang. I just turned 59 so I am aging out of certain roles. By the time I wrap this show it will strictly be grandpa roles for me.”

Stolte stresses that he is not going to complain about how a fulltime job is limiting his acting roles because his friends from his days working on stage won’t let him.

At least the St. Louis native had built up a diverse collection of acting roles before becoming part of the “Chicago Fire” team. He spent years working in Chicago theater before landing his first film role in “The Public Eye.”

His other credits include the films “Ali,” “Road to Perdition,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Public Enemies” and “Law Abiding Citizen.” On television, he has had recurring roles in “Turks,” “The Chicago Code,” “Prison Break,” “Boss” and “The Playboy Club.”

Reaching the 200 episodes has been more of a challenge for the cast of “Chicago Fire” than some other series. Because the show is a blend of personal stories and huge action scenes, work days can be long and demanding. Stolte had just completed a six-day work week because of filming the big action sequences.

There’s also the added factor that because “Chicago Fire” is part of a night of programs from executive producer Dick Wolf that also includes “Chicago Med” and “Chicago PD,” there are often crossover events that involve all the casts.

Stolte finds himself involved with even more crossovers than other cast members because his character is married to Sergeant Trudy Platt – played by Amy Morton – on “Chicago PD.” Those smaller crossovers require Stolte to shoot those scenes while working on his own series.

The 200th episode marks a change for Stolte’s character as Mouch and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) launch a new paramedicine program. This storyline makes Stolte very happy.

“I give full credit for that to Kara,” Stolte says. “She and I really enjoy working together. We had a storyline a few seasons back about a romance novel we co-wrote.

“We just wanted a storyline where we would work together again. Kara would go to the writers and say she wanted another storyline with Mouch. She said it enough times where they finally listened.”

Also in the milestone episode, Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) makes a life-altering decision. Stolte won’t talk about what specifically happens but it appears there could be a big event involving the character. If that involves a change in the cast, that is something Stolte has had to deal with through the 10 seasons.

He says that dealing with change has been tougher on this show than anything he has done before.

“We hang out together constantly. We know each other as well as I know anyone else in my life,” Stolte says. “They are just the best group of people. When somebody has to go, it is heartbreaking.”

Changes happen when TV series continue for long periods of time. Don’t look for Stolte to be one of those changes anytime soon as he is so happy with the job.

“The role only gets more and more comfortable. The writers keep finding ways to explore new facets of this cat and I am constantly amazed at what they pull out of their hats,” Stolte says. “When you audition for a role, you are trying to be that guy.

“Once you have been that guy for a season or two, they start writing that guy to be more like you. You become a toy they get to play with. It’s rewarding for me and I hope it is rewarding for them.”

For the record, “Chicago Fire” still has a long way to go to top the list of longest running network shows. “The Simpsons” continue to push that record up as more than 700 episodes have aired over 33 seasons. Stolte would be 82 years old at that milestone and one of the oldest firefighters working.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.