Tonight, USA launches Sirens, its comedy series about a group of Chicago paramedics, adapted from the UK project of the same name. Fan Voice had the opportunity to chat with Jessica McNamee, who plays Teresa Kelly, police officer and Johnny’s (Michael Mosley) ex-girlfriend, about the process of launching a TV show – and what it’s like when that show involves Denis Leary.
As you’re starting off a new series, it’s got to feel good when the network puts you behind its biggest hit. That’s what USA did, scheduling Sirens to debut after the midseason premiere of Suits. We asked Jessica if following a major show adds to or alleviates the pressure. “I’m excited, because hopefully all their fans will follow along with us,” she said. “I can only see it as a plus. It’s got such a great following, and certainly in our demographic, so it can only be a positive to follow that.”
But how exactly do you get started when it comes to starring in a TV show? How do you connect with a character that you will hopefully be playing for years to come? “As a collective, that was kind of a lot of the process for us,” she explained. “The fact that we filmed in Chicago, I think came as a blessing in terms of building our relationship and bonding with one another. We all got taken out, moved to another city, and we’re the only people we all knew. We essentially had to become friends. And it turns out we all really liked each other.
“That was really important, because we’re all then in a really comfortable environment where we all respected and knew each other very well by the time we started filming. And then from that point, for me, it was just really feeling it out.”
“I’m certain that Teresa was someone completely different,” she theorized, “[that] they had someone completely different in mind, and also the character was a completely different character before they met me and cast me. I think it was a lot of, for me in particular, trial and error.”
Sirens is executive produced by one of Hollywood’s great characters, Denis Leary, who’s given us Rescue Me, The Job, and countless hours of laughter in other projects. Is it completely insane having Denis Leary as your boss?
“He is an absolute riot,” Jessica enthused. “He’s such a pro, that guy. I’ve learned so much about him, not only on set by watching him work, but the way that he is with fans and press and the way that he manages himself generally. He is so good to everyone that he meets. He’s just a good person that really respects everyone.”
“He is so hands-on. He was there the entire shoot, I think bar a week when he had to go and work on another project that he was in,” she added. “It’s really important having him there. He’s certainly very aware of who our characters are, and how he wants to see us portrayed, as well as giving us the freedom to do what we want with the character. Having him there, it kind of gives us the confidence within ourselves that we’re on track and doing the right thing.”