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Billy Burke on Why CBS' Fire Country Was Hot Out of the Gate — Plus, the One Role He'd Most Want to Play Again

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Billy Burke has played a role or 20 over the years on TV, so the early success of CBS’ Fire Country — this fall’s most watched, top-rated new series — came as no surprise to him.

Ahead of the freshman drama’s fourth episode (airing this Friday at 9/8c), TVLine spoke with Burke about what sparked his interest in playing fire chief Vince Leone, the Jake/Riley bombshell that just got dropped, the show’s prickly father/son dynamic and, for good measure, several of his past TV roles — including the one he simply didn’t get enough of.

TVLINE | Tell me a bit about what you filmed today (Wednesday) at Fire Country.
Well, I had the day off today. But the day before yesterday, we just wrapped Episode 9, and…. Well, what do you want to know?

TVLINE | Was there fire involved?
[Chuckles] There was a bit of fire, yes. But the fire is not the main enemy. We’re on a search-and-rescue mission for some core characters.

TVLINE | You’ve been in the business a minute. Why do you think Fire Country struck a chord and opened as well as it did?
I don’t want to say it’s a “no brainer,” because there are no “no brainers” when it comes to TV anymore, as we all know. But it is one of those shows that’s got all the elements of what people watch TV dramas for. And that is relationships, family, involvement in whatever that family does…. A good, competent mixture of all those things always leads to good entertainment, and I think this show does that really well.

Fire Country VinceTVLINE | And what about the role of Vince interested you?
First and foremost, I love this world. When they sent it to me, I thought, “Wow, how come nobody’s done this show before?” It was ripe for the picking, so that was my first reaction. And then it appeared to me that this was a guy who was going to have a lot on his plate and a lot to deal with throughout any given season, no matter what’s going on. I mean, there’s so much history between not only him and his son, but he and his wife have a very long and steady and strong but complicated relationship. Vince has also suffered a lot of loss, yet he’s got to keep everything together and pretty much be the patriarch of not only his family, but kind of the whole town, too. And there was nothing not attractive about that.