Updated: September 27, 2013 6:05AM
“Boss” bit the dust, but several cast members from Starz’s steamy political drama have been rescued by “Chicago Fire.”
The latest alumni to make the leap: John Hoogenakker and Jeff Hephner, who join the series this season. They follow a trail blazed by former “Boss” actors Joe Minoso (best remembered as the guy who got his ears cut off) and Skokie resident Christian Stolte. Both have been promoted to series regulars in the sophomore season of “Chicago Fire,” which returns to NBC on a new night Sept. 24.
Nicole Forester, who plays the sister of Lt. Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer), also did time on “Boss.” She was the ambitious wife of Hephner’s character Ben Zajac, a politician with an epic zipper problem.
“It’s been a lot of fun reuniting with these people,” Hoogenakker said about the familiar faces not only in the cast, but on the crew.
A veteran of the local theater scene (as are many “Chicago Fire” actors), Hoogenakker played States Attorney Jeff Doyle in the second and final season of “Boss.” On “Chicago Fire,” he has a recurring role as Lt. Spellman, who comes from the same firehouse as Hephner’s rescue squad character, Clark. The men have been assigned to Firehouse 51 after city budget cuts forced downsizing in the department.
Hephner did a memorable turn on “Boss” as Zajac, a gubernatorial candidate often caught with his pants down.
“I’m very clothed, so far,” Hephner said about his role on “Fire,” where he routinely dons full bunker gear weighing around 65 pounds.
Hoogenakker and Hephner didn’t need directions to their new workplace. “Boss” was shot at the same West Side studio, Cinespace Chicago, as “Chicago Fire.”
The critically acclaimed cable drama, starring Kelsey Grammer as ruthless Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, got axed late last year after low ratings.
“I’ve been looking for the last six months for a way to get back [to Chicago],” said Hephner, who’s living in the Gold Coast with his wife and three kids.
He recently crossed paths with another former “Boss” star, Hannah Ware. She’s in town filming the new ABC drama “Betrayal.”
“She’s like, ‘I’m never leaving Chicago,’ ” he said. “Why would you? It’s great.”