Interview with Jesse Soffer and Jason Beghe of “Chicago PD” on NBC by Suzanne 3/23/21
These two are the stars of their show, but they’re humble. It was a pleasure to speak with them and listen to them answer all of the questions.
Here’s the video version of it.
Question: You guys are doing a great job. The show’s been on for quite a long time now. Are you sort of settling into your characters, or, this year, when people have been looking at police officers a little differently, has that changed your approach at all to how you play your character?
Jason: Jesse? Or do you want me to [go]?
Jesse: No, it hasn’t changed my approach at all. We were actually just talking about this. I think our show does a good job of portraying everyone as a human being. Whether or not you’re on the right or wrong side of the law, whether or not you’re on this side or that side of politics or have an idea, everybody’s human. So, no, my idea of Jay hasn’t changed, but everything is growth. You know, “what’s going on in current events?” If we’re playing the reality of it, and we’re truthful, then cops today are seeing things in the news and they’re hearing discussions and they’re having to think about it. So, obviously, that’s going on with Jay; that’s one point that’s going on with everybody. So, that would be the only way that it’s changed the way you absorb the information around you.
Question: Well, Jason, your cop actually started out as a bad cop and then transitioned to being more upstanding.
Jason: Well, I’m not sure if that’s a question, but I can also just say that, the first day I showed up on Chicago Fire, producers, they said to me, the first thing they said was, “Oh, you’re a bad guy.” And I said, “No, I’m not.” And, of course, they showed and portrayed, wrote him as a bad guy. He was doing a lot of bad things, but for me to play it, you rarely come across a bad person who thinks they’re a bad person. He’s just a person, and he’s doing what he thinks is right. We come up with solutions to cope.
Remember, he attacked Casey in the beginning, because he’s trying to protect his son. I don’t know if you have children, but he might go pretty far. To keep your child – I mean, my son was going to go to jail and be in an environment with people who I put there, and he probably would have been raped to death. And yes, he did something bad, but was that justice? Voight certainly thought not, and he was willing to go to great lengths to protect his son. From Casey’s point of view, he is a bad guy. From his son, Justin’s view, he is a loving father.
So, the thing that’s interesting is that nobody is one thing or another, and the more we get to know people, I think, the more we are able to understand them and therefore love them. That, to me, is what’s interesting about life and playing a character for this long, that you get to understand that people – there’s always something there; there’s something to love. We’re not one thing or another. Things change in moments, and he’s having a hard time right now. He’s not a guy big on self reflection, and he’s being forced to [reflect]. It’s difficult, and I think his knees may hit the ground this season, but he’s a strong guy. I think that to be who he is, I imagine his knees have hit the ground in the past, and those are the moments where you either stay down on the canvas or you get up, and you’re recreated and better. I find that fun, and it keeps me interested, both personally, and also artistically, playing the guy.
Suzanne: Hi. It’s great to talk to both of you. Jesse, I used to watch you on As the World Turns, so I’m big a fan.
Jesse: Oh, man.
Suzanne: That was a while ago. And I went on all of the One Chicago Facebook groups and on Twitter, and I got quite a few responses. People want to talk to you guys. So, Jennifer wanted to ask Jesse; she’s heard during two different interviews that you wanted Jay to go skydiving, and she wanted to know if you had gone skydiving, and if you liked it.
Jesse: I don’t know who this Jennifer is, but I will tell you right now, she’s a liar, because I have never once said that I wanted to go skydiving. If I did, maybe I was on drugs when I said it. I’d love to see the tape.
Jason: I doubt that he said it.
Jesse: Show me the tape. Prove it to me. There’s no way I said it. So, no, I don’t want Jay to go skydiving. I don’t need to have an episode about that.
Suzanne: Maybe she was playing with me.
Jesse: Yeah, maybe.
Suzanne: Sorry about that.
Jesse: No, you’re fine.
Suzanne: And let’s see, another Jennifer, who goes by Jen, wants to know, Jason, we noticed that Sam and Voight are trusting each other now. Can we expect a romantic involvement?
Jason: You know, it’s funny. That’s, I think, the third time I’ve been asked that.
Jesse: This is clearly a thing. This is a thing.
Jason: And I just find it – I have to turn the question back on the question. I mean, I understand it, but just because you’re trusting somebody, and granted, she’s probably one of the most attractive people you’ve ever put on a television screen, but trust and connection and love doesn’t always mean sex and romance.
Suzanne: On TV though, it kind of does.
Jason: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Maybe I like that, that it that it doesn’t have to be that, and I also think that – this is just me personally, [but] I don’t think there’s much sexier than mystery. I don’t want to get too poetic, but on the great romantic poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, [there are] these two lovers that are painted on this urn, and they’re at that moment where they’re about to kiss, and the whole thesis is that’s the best moment, not the kiss, and not the lovemaking, but that’s where all the energy is. So, I tend to think that I’d like to keep it there, but we’ll see. I wouldn’t throw a fit if I was forced to kiss her, Nicole Parker.
Suzanne: Thank you. Thank you guys.
Question: You guys have been on for like, seven, eight years now, and as actors – because I’ve felt that, especially in theater, repetition can make it boring or can make it more interesting. Has the character at times, does it become boring? Or, how do you keep it interesting and fresh? And the biggest thing is, do you have more control over the narrative in any way, because you have played the character for so long, by talking to the writers and EPs to contribute to the storytelling? Jason, you can go first.
Jason: Yeah, I’ve never gotten bored. If I did, I probably would either quit or get fired. Just like my [character], I hope I don’t get bored, [as] Jason, either. I mean, I’ve got a lot to work on. I’ve got a lot to grow and change, and so does Voight, and he also loves his job. His job brings surprises and new things every day, and he likes doing it well. It’s a puzzle to solve, and the stakes are high. He makes a difference, so he’s engaged. That character, he’s growing and changing all the time. It’s not like you get the character, just like it’s not like you’ve gotten yourself, and you’re done. You know, it’s a work in progress, and same with him. And I think in my relationship with Voight is like a relationship. I learned from him; he learned from me. Then, you play the scene and see what happens. It’s exciting. It’s exciting.
Question: [Have you] talked the writers and EP in terms of conducive stories now?
Jason: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. We have a very collaborative environment, particularly with Ricky now running the show. And I’m highly respectful, and he’s amazingly good. All our writers are, and if I don’t understand something or agree, it’s not like I go, “You’re wrong.” I say, “Help me understand.” And there may be a thesis and an anti-thesis, but there’s always a synthesis. We work together, because they don’t want me to do something that I don’t understand or don’t believe, and they’re the ones who are helping me discover, leading me in the direction where I continue to create and discover who Voight is and who he is becoming.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Jesse Lee Soffer
Det. Jay Halstead, “Chicago P.D.”
Jesse Lee Soffer stars as brash young police detective Jay Halstead in the hit NBC drama “Chicago P.D.”
Born in Ossining, N.Y., Soffer’s acting career began at age 6 when he landed a Kix cereal commercial. He made his feature-film debut two years later opposite John Goodman and Cathy Moriarty in “Matinee.” Soon thereafter, he was cast as Susan Sarandon and Sam Shepard’s son in the family drama “Safe Passage” and as Bobby in both “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “A Very Brady Sequel.”
Continuing to work with some of the biggest names in the industry, Soffer starred as a runaway-turned-sleuth in the television movie “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” opposite Lauren Bacall, and then worked with director Richard Shepard in AMC’s longform presentation of “The Royale.”
In 1998, Soffer was cast as a series regular in the ABC comedy “Two of a Kind,” starring Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. When it ended, he returned to the East Coast and took a role on the CBS daytime serial “Guiding Light.”
After four months on the show, Soffer decided to focus on his studies and put himself through the Gunnery Boarding School in Connecticut. Upon graduation, Soffer realized that he still yearned to act and quickly landed a major contract role on the CBS daytime drama “As the World Turns.” His portrayal of troubled youth Will Munson earned him three consecutive Daytime Emmy nominations for outstanding younger actor in a drama series in 2006-08, as well as a Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for outstanding younger lead actor.
Soffer made his return to the big screen in Davis Guggenheim’s independent film “Gracie,” playing the son of Elizabeth Shue and Dermot Mulroney, and also appeared in the film “In Time.” In primetime television, Soffer had a co-starring role in the Fox series “The Mob Doctor” and had guest roles in series including “CSI: Miami,” “The Mentalist” and “Rizzoli & Isles.”
Sgt. Hank Voight, “Chicago P.D.”
Jason Beghe stars as Sgt. Hank Voight, leader of the Chicago P.D. Intelligence Unit in the NBC drama “Chicago P.D.”
Beghe was born and raised in New York City, where he attended the prestigious Collegiate School.
Beghe portrayed a quadriplegic in the George A. Romero film “Monkey Shines: An Experiment in Fear.” He later appeared as a police officer in the film “Thelma & Louise” and played Demi Moore’s love interest in “G.I. Jane.” Other feature-film credits include “X-Men: First Class,” “The Next Three Days,” “One Missed Call” and “Atlas Shrugged: Part II.”
On television, Beghe’s recurring roles include “Chicago Fire,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Californication.” He has guest-starred on countless series, including “Last Resort,” “Castle,” “NCIS,” “CSI: New York,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Finder,” “Prime Suspect,” “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” “Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope,” “American Dreams” and “Cane.”
Beghe lives in Los Angeles.
From multiple Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf and the team behind the hit series “Chicago Fire,” ‘Chicago P.D.” is a riveting police drama about the men and women of the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit, combatting the city’s most heinous offenses – organized crime, drug trafficking, high profile murders and beyond.
At the center of “Chicago P.D.” is Det. Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), who is at ground zero against the war on crime in Chicago. He will do anything to bring criminals to justice.
Hand-picked as the head of the unit is Voight, who has assembled a team of diverse detectives who share his passion and commitment to keep the city safe. They include Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), a brash young detective who previously saw active military duty in Afghanistan; Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati), who has proven herself valuable to the team after being brought up from patrol on several past cases; Officer Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger), a quick-witted cadet plucked from the police academy; Officer Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins), a charismatic patrolman who was brought upstairs; and Det. Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos), the newest member of the team with killer instincts, humor and smarts. After going head to head with Voight, the two find a mutual respect for one another and see the value in working together.
Desk Sgt. Trudy Platt (Amy Morton) runs a tight precinct with tough love, although she lets her softer more vulnerable side shine through from time to time.
In addition to Wolf, executive producers include Rick Eid, Peter Jankowski, Arthur W. Forney, Derek Haas and Eriq La Salle.
“Chicago P.D.” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Wolf Entertainment.
Please visit the official show site at: https://www.nbc.com/chicago-pd.
For the latest “Chicago P.D.” news, videos, and photos, please like on Facebook, follow on Twitter and Instagram
Proofread and Edited by Brenda