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From left, Hanako Greensmith as Violet Mikami and Jocelyn Hudon as Lizzie Novak on `Chicago Fire.` (NBC photo by Adrian S. Burrows Sr.)
From left, Hanako Greensmith as Violet Mikami and Jocelyn Hudon as Lizzie Novak on "Chicago Fire." (NBC photo by Adrian S. Burrows Sr.)

Good from the get-go: Jocelyn Hudon impresses in 'Chicago Fire' debut

by jmaloni
Tue, Apr 23rd 2024 12:20 pm

Fresh from ‘Niagara,’ Toronto actress making her mark with myriad Hallmark Channel roles, guest appearance on ‘The Irrational,’ half-dozen projects in development

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni


Beyoncé’s emergence into country music.

The premiere of “Fallout” on Prime.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut.

Not since Lionel Richie first sang “Hello” have introductions been this hot.

#OneChicago fans can add this kickoff to that checklist: Jocelyn Hudon’s epic first episode on “Chicago Fire.”

As the show’s opening credits scrolled two weeks ago, Hudon’s Lizzie Novak was innocuously introduced as the new Firehouse 51 paramedic-in-training. She was sitting at a back table, munching on a piece of bacon, casually chatting with paramedic-in-charge Violet (Hanako Greensmith).

At first, it seemed as if Novak wouldn’t last long. She quickly earned “Are you serious?” vibes from Violet as she chronicled her over-the-top collegiate exploits. But as the story continued, we learned Novak’s whole is greater than the sum of her partners.

The first responders would find themselves on the wrong end of a gun while tending to an injured youth in a home basement. Undaunted, Novak walked right up to the boy pointing the pistol, enabling Violet to render aid. As she provided cover, Novak shared a story with the would-be offender. She eased his mind, and convinced him to hand over his weapon.

As audiences were exhaling, Novak was … seemingly unphased, even making plans to go to Molly’s. Once there, Violet asked Novak if she wanted to stick around a little longer. The answer was yes – and was quickly followed by a shot and a beer (and more eye-rolling from the PIC).

What made this performance pop was that we saw seasons’ worth of sides in Novak.

Oftentimes, a character develops into something over many episodes – they’re wayward or impulsive, or they’re tried and true. They’re flighty and disappointing, or they’re heroic and surprising. They’re usually one thing – and that one thing is built over time.

Novak was all of these things – and Hudon made her must-see – and must-have – for future episodes.

That’s not a surprise for anyone who’s watched any of Hudon’s myriad roles over the past year – the Toronto native played a writer on “Love in the Maldives,” a silk-swinging aerialist in “Romance with a Twist,” and a troubled poker player/behavioral expert on “The Irrational” – or to anyone who knows Hudon – her background includes performances with the National Ballet School of Canada, a job as a zipline operator at Algonquin Provincial Park, and a scuba-diving certification.

Over the weekend, Hudon starred in “Falling in Love in Niagara” where she showed off her physical comedic and action skills, giving her character – an apprehensive Madeline – humor and compassion.

Though not yet 30 years old, the actor already has 45 credits – plus three as a producer – and the on-screen command of someone with 30 years of experience. Hudon has proven herself capable in action/adventure, drama, and romance/comedy – and with a half-dozen new projects in the pipeline, her fanbase will only keep growing.

Hudon shared more about her arrival on “Chicago Fire,” trekking through Niagara, and what goes into each role, in this edited Q&A.

BTS: Let me ask you about “Chicago Fire.” Tell me a little bit about how that opportunity came about for you.

Jocelyn Hudon: Pretty standardly. I got an audition. I taped it. And then they just basically asked me to do the network test and I did it. Pretty standard audition process.

BTS: Well, if that's the case, I would say that your debut was anything but standard.

Jocelyn Hudon: (Laughs.)

BTS: I watch a lot of television and, normally, I’ll notice a script, a storyline, not always a particular actor. That wasn’t the case with your debut. I was all-in on your performance. I thought that episode was epic. Your character was so many things – it was like you put three seasons into this one 42-minute block. If I had been the one filming that, I think I would have slept for like three days afterward. Tell me about seeing that script, and your initial thoughts about what you would have to do your first time on the show.

Jocelyn Hudon: The energy level and going from that to the scene with the little boy, I was ready for that. I think, more so, I was like, “OK, how do I fit in with this group?” because they've been together for so long. I just wanted to do a good job. And it's a big show, so you don't want to mess anything up. So, that was more my focus there. But the energy and those scenes, that's pretty in my ballpark to do those.

BTS: Even still, we saw so many different looks from this character. We saw so many different things that she could be, she might be – we're not sure. Like you said, you had a lot going on. Certainly, this is your first time with this cast, and there's everything that goes along with that. But how was it just to be able to film and portray all these different sides of this character?

Jocelyn Hudon: I think, my character, she’s light, kind of, about the way she lives, and she's very like upfront and just honest, and doesn't really care – she doesn't tiptoe around, and I think that works really well for her on the field, as well. Because that's a part of her life that she does care about. So, she's like, “I don't care about this. I'll say whatever.” But when it comes down to her job, she's very caring and empathetic, and focused on her work and the victims and the situations that she's in.

I think maybe having such a serious job as a paramedic, and like the things you see as a paramedic, kind of help you, in the real world, not take things so seriously; because of the extremes of what happens on those jobs, the day-to-day stuff doesn't really matter as much.

So, she has like a lightness about her with day-to-day activities; and then when she's on the job, she's like, “All right, let's go.” That's kind of her mindset for me.

BTS: There's a scene at the end of the episode where Violet says (Novak is) definitely a lot, but that there is something about her. So, what will we get to see about her in the near future?

Jocelyn Hudon: Oh, I don't know! You’ll have to watch (laughs). I cannot say.

BTS: Fair enough. I see you've already got the company line down. Very good.

Jocelyn Hudon: I know nothing!

BTS: Well, tell me about this cast. You mentioned you wanted to fit in. I've been to Chicago. I've run drills with this cast. They've always been lovely to me. How has it been working with them?

Jocelyn Hudon: Oh, it's been great. I know, joining something that's been going for 12 years, you kind of just want to slide in, not going to step on any toes. But they've been very welcoming, very kind. They care about me. They ask me questions. It's been beyond my expectations.

Same goes with the crew. It’s been like A-plus-plus.

They're really funny, which really helps. Everyone's goofy and having a good time; and it's like such a great group of people.

Jocelyn Hudon portrays Madeline in “Falling in Love in Niagara.” (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)


BTS: Very nice. Let me then pivot, if I can, to “Falling in Love in Niagara.” What appealed to you about that project?

Jocelyn Hudon: I love the company I worked with. So, it was with this indie company that I've worked with a few times. Main producer’s name is Tim Johnson, and the director, Marita (Jane Grabiak), I’ve worked with a few times.

She texted me and she was like, “Let's work.” And I was like, “All right.” So, she sent me a script. I didn't love that one. And then she sent me this other script, the “Niagara” one, and I was like, “OK, this is great. It's funny. It's light. It's a different character than one I've played before.”

And I've worked with a crew there before, too. So, it was like just going home to my little filming family. That was an easy “Yes” for me.

BTS: You are from Toronto, so I'm guessing this wasn't your first time to Niagara Falls.

Jocelyn Hudon: I had been once before.

BTS: What was it like to be there and get to sort of be a daredevil and be on the zipline, and the jet boat, and everything else you got to do for this film?

Jocelyn Hudon: Yeah, that was cool. I'm glad I got to do those things.

I used to run a zipline in Algonquin Park, so those things, to me, are fun – but I've done it many a time. I rescued a girl off a zipline once.

And the jet boat was really cool, too. That was really fun to film in, because we got to go with the crew. So, seeing the DP (cinematographer) get completely, completely soaked; and we had all these little GoPros; and we had to cut in line, in front of like real passengers on the boat, to get our whole crew in the front of the boat to be able to film those shots. That was pretty funny, and definitely like a bonding experience for all of us (laughs).

BTS: For sure. And if you saved somebody off a zipline, then hanging around burning buildings is probably just like a Tuesday for you, then, right?

Jocelyn Hudon: Exactly. Exactly. I'm like this job fits so well with my physicality and what I want to do at work every day. It's great. And they also see who I am, and they let me be myself on this show. I feel very seen on it. So, that's awesome.

BTS: The Niagara Region, they’ve put a lot more time and effort into it in recent years to make it be an attractive place for companies to come and to film movies or episodes of TV. For you, having had that experience, what can you say about the qualities of the area? What would make it appealing to you to come back and work again as an actor?

Jocelyn Hudon: It was easy. It's really nice. It's not too busy. It’s not too crazy. It was a good time. There are a lot of things to see and do there, so you're never bored. It's a cool place to film and work. The crew was very happy to be there. It was a good time.

BTS: So, Hallmark is actually showing a marathon of your work today, and I just rewatched your appearance on “Irrational,” which was also very good and very different from these other things I've seen you in. I was looking at IMDb. It shows you have like a half-dozen projects you're working on; and so, you're certainly busy.

How much do you love what you do – that’s part A of this question – and part B is how challenging is it for you – when you do work this much – to keep all of the characters and all of the scripts separate – but to also find time to be Jocelyn once in a while.

Jocelyn Hudon: I love what I do. It's kind of the only thing that makes sense to me.

I started as a dancer, and then I went to university and did a post-grad. Being in that kind of world, I just didn't feel right. I was like, I don't think I can work in any of these jobs that my degree would put me in. And then once I started acting, I was like, “Oh, my god, this is exactly what I'm supposed to do.”

It, for me, feels like going to camp. I went to camp my whole life, and being on a set with a crew, it just feels like camp. Everyone has their departments, everyone's working towards the same goal. It just feels like home to me.

And then the separate jobs. Some of the credits, like “The Irrational” and there's another one on there called “Degenerate,” those were super-different and cool because they were both poker shows. My character was a poker player in “The Irrational,” and I play a poker dealer in “Degenerate.” So, the “Degenerate” producers sent me to a poker school where I learned to deal, which is like, I'm not even done learning how to deal, but I’ve got a very good foundation. But learning the physicality of something, and like the rules of poker, and like dealing real games in L.A. with the teacher, that was like a whole new world to me; and things like that really help with my character, when I have something physical to go along with it. So, that really separated those jobs for me.

I feel like people have all these different life experiences. There's so many people throughout your own life that, each role, I'm like, “Oh yeah, that was me at this stage.” I've been so many people in my own personal life that every role is just kind of like a different shade of who I've been at some point.

(Laughs) You do it. The off time, I do my thing hard. I go to taekwondo. I go to SoulCycle. I see my friends. And then when I'm working, I’m like “Buh-bye,” and I just bunker down and work really hard. But I also feel like I lived a lot of my life before I started working; like, I'm good. I had a very fun childhood. Very good youth. And I'm good to just keep working and having fun. I get to travel and make new friends all the time. So, this, to me, is like the best part of my life, for sure.

“Chicago Fire” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, with new episodes resuming May 1. “Falling in Love in Niagara” is rerunning on the Hallmark Channel. Both can be streamed on Peacock.

Jocelyn Hudon as Madeline and Dan Jeannotte as Mike in “Falling in Love in Niagara" on the Hallmark Channel (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)


See also >> New Hallmark Channel film shines spotlight on Niagara Falls

See also >> Q&A: Dan Jeannotte has adventure filming 'Falling in Love in Niagara'

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