Hanako Greensmith is Chicago Fire‘s rising star. Originally introduced for a short guest appearance, her character Violet Mikami returned as a recurring player in season 9, before she was deservedly promoted to series regular in the NBC show’s current season 10. That’s an incredible journey for an actor, and what does it mean for Violet, since One Chicago fans now get to see her every week?
I recently spoke with Hanako as part of my Fall TV Interviews series to discuss her Chicago Fire promotion, how she looks at the relationship between Violet and Gallo now, and where you’ve seen her before that you might not have realized. Catch her in a new Chicago Fire episode this Wednesday on NBC at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Brittany Frederick: In a relatively short period of time you’ve gone from playing a comedic foil to Gallo, to a recurring member of Firehouse 51, to now your character is a series regular. What has that journey been like for you, to see Violet’s role continually expand?
Hanako Greensmith: It’s been wonderful. It’s been overwhelming. It’s been fulfilling. It’s been such a wonderful journey to take. It’s been exciting too, because I’m figuring her out as the writers are figuring her out. Each time I get a nugget of information on who she is or what she cares about. I learn a lot more about what I need to flesh out to bring her more to life.
The bigger her responsibility or my responsibility has gotten, the more that I just learn about what to bring to her and what to bring to the performance of her. It’s definitely been exciting and nerve-wracking with that responsibility, but I’m so grateful for it. It really has been such a wonderful experience.
BF: The Chicago Fire season 9 finale laid the groundwork for Violet and Gallo to get back together. How have you and Alberto Rosende approached playing that dynamic the second time around? Is it different at all now that it doesn’t have a finite endpoint?
HG: Alberto and I have become, now that we’ve worked more together, quite close friends. So it’s really fun to play with that while we’re at work. We don’t know, honestly, that much more than the fans know. We know a little bit more. But while [the episodes are] coming out, we’re finding out where the writers want to take us almost at the same time.
There’s this desire for this side gig. So I think for the time being, there’s a really great relationship happening between Ritter, Gallo, and Violet. Just seeing how we all mesh together, and how we work together as far as business plans may go, or as far as friendships may go and how we support each other through difficult, trying things. That’s been fun to flesh out with both Alberto and with Daniel [Kyri].
BF: The fun of having you as a regular in Chicago Fire season 10 is that we’ll also get to learn more about Violet’s dynamics with other characters and who she is outside of whatever she has with Gallo. Can you say anything about what’s coming up for her personally?
HG: You definitely get to see her in a different environment—going into something outside of the firehouse and embarking on something more professional…You’ll have some more time with Brett, which is really wonderful. Brett has a whole new swath of challenges and exciting new adventures that she takes on, and Violet, getting to see her support the women in the firehouse is another exciting thing to see.
We’ve seen a lot of her interaction with males, because fire departments are pretty male-dominated, at least from what it is on our show. So seeing her also with females is a new, exciting aspect to who she is; how she relates to the women in her environment and in her world.
I’m excited for people to get to know Violet more alongside me. I definitely feel like there’s just so much more to know about her. She’s a mysterious person in that she’s very open and confident in a lot of ways, but also she has some insecurities that she stows away and maybe masks in other ways. So uncovering whatever we get to uncover throughout the season and maybe moving forward, that I’m really looking forward to. And I hope it brings joy and entertainment to people’s lives, because that’s all I can ask for at the end of the day.
BF: She fit in pretty quickly at Firehouse 51. Was it likewise an easy transition for you to fit in as part of Chicago Fire‘s regular cast, since you’d already been in the show as a recurring and a guest star?
HG: Yeah. Everyone is so kind, and so warm, and so welcoming. They make it as easy as possible being a newbie. The other day, David [Eigenberg] did something where he was just goofing off and made this claim like, “Oh yeah, she’s the new girl.” But then there was this reaction where it was, she’s not the new girl. She’s been here for a good amount of time. We’re all pretty comfortable with who she is.
Coming into season 10 with this kind of newfound comfort and knowing that I have a bit more of a secure position here definitely makes it easier for me to feel more at home with everybody. But they definitely do everything they can to make everyone feel super-included and super-welcome. And so, yeah, it felt like a really wonderful, seamless transition just picking up where we left off from last season.
BF: You guest-starred on FBI before you appeared on Chicago Fire. Did doing another Dick Wolf series help you in joining the One Chicago universe?
HG: That was so long ago that that happened! I’d been auditioning for that [casting] office for a minute, so I had an idea of how to approach this material. Chicago Fire has essences of that more serious, somber, darker tone of FBI, when we have an incident or something that we’re approaching at the firehouse. But realistically, our show is woven in with so much humor, and love, and goofiness. There’s always that essence to each episode.
So taking that on coming to this show was something totally new for me. And again, being around everybody here, who’s so goofy and loving and exciting, makes it so easy to fall right into it. But it did feel very different being on FBI versus being on Chicago Fire, I will admit.
Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.