5 Questions With … David Eigenberg of NBC’s “Chicago Fire”

David Eigenberg 2015 NBC Universal Media, LLC Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

David Eigenberg gives off the vibe of a bar owner.

It’s a profession he’s become familiar with. On Chicago Fire, NBC’s Thursday drama currently in its sixth season, he plays Christopher Herrmann, the veteran firefighter who owns the bar Molly’s. On Sex and the City, he was Steve, the pub owner married to Miranda.

“I don’t drink at all; I don’t know why or how I end up at bars,” Eigenberg says. “I have that face. I walked away from bars a long time ago.”

He’s happy living in Chicago, near where he grew up, with his wife, 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. “It’s real,” Eigenberg says. “It’s a city with big shoulders, and it’s a city that works.”

No wonder he relates. After serving four years in the Marine Reserves, Eigenberg set out for New York to make it as an actor. He lived below the poverty level, crashing with an uncle in a tough neighborhood in the Bronx, then moved to East Harlem, where he was regularly beaten up. Cops would stop him, convinced he was there to buy drugs.

Eigenberg constantly auditioned and made his living on construction sites as a plasterer and carpenter. He reflected on being broke as he answered our “5 Questions.”

1. What three items have to be in your refrigerator or pantry? Cheese, because I need a snack, and I try to eat something that has a couple of things that are OK for me. Ketchup, because as Reagan said, it is a vegetable. Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Cups because they make me really happy

2. If you were not an actor, what would you be? I would have loved to have been an architect. I love architecture, but I don’t have it. When I looked at the syllabus and all that math you have to have, I just don’t have it

3. Tell me about a time you were starstruck. I got to have lunch with Roddy McDowall. I had been in L.A. for a short time, and I was driving over the Hollywood Hills to meet him, and a song came on, “The Morning After” [the Oscar-winning theme from the McDowall film The Poseidon Adventure]. I never thought I would meet anyone. He was nothing but compassionate

4. What was your biggest splurge item? I didn’t have a television for almost 20 years. I bought one of the first-generation flat-screen TVs. It was expensive, and I didn’t get cable. I got VHS, and God, did people look like crap on it. I was on Sex and the City, and I made some money and said, “I am going to get a TV.”

5. What three celebrities, living or dead, would you invite to a dinner party? Emil Jannings from the great movie The Blue Angel. He plays an incredible hypocrite, not far from Trump. Clint Eastwood, not because of his politics, but because I find him an incredibly compelling, interesting director. He’s not precious about what he does. And Natalie Wood because I want to know what happened.

Chicago Fire airs Thursdays on NBC; the season finale is May 10 at a special time: 9/8c