Sunday, May 26, 2024

Jesse Lee Soffer of Chicago P.D. explains how the original ending of his directing debut was altered and the benefits of playing Halstead.

Jesse Lee Soffer is now a Chicago P.D. director as well as former star, and he opened up about how playing Halstead helped in directing!

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Spoilers ahead for Episode 16 of Chicago P.D. Season 10, called “Deadlocked.”

On March 22, Jesse Lee Soffer triumphantly returned to Chicago P.D., though not in the capacity that devoted fans are accustomed to. Instead of playing Jay Halstead again, Soffer made his directorial debut for a gripping and action-packed hour of television by moving behind the camera. The actor-turned-director discussed the episode’s change from how the case ended in the original script with CinemaBlend and how playing Halstead “for so long” has paid off. The episode had about as happy an ending as could be hoped for when it came to the case of the week.

In “Deadlocked,” Voight took the witness stand alongside ASA Chapman in an effort to imprison drug lord Arturo Morales despite all of his connections to criminals on the outside. Unluckily, Morales’ followers managed to influence one of the jurors by attacking and kidnapping his wife and threatening to kill her if Christopher did not vote to exonerate the accused. What is the difficulty for intelligence? Voight was not permitted to direct the Intelligence Unit into a formal investigation while he was a witness in the trial.

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Ultimately, the unit did succeed in saving Christopher’s wife with enough time to spare for him to vote to convict, but when ASA Chapman learned of Voight’s covert interference, she was unhappy that he had gone rogue to ensure the conviction. The verdict was announced in a scene where the characters’ conversation was overdubbed with music. When discussing “Deadlocked,” Jesse Lee Soffer revealed how the case’s conclusion differed from what was originally planned:

There was scripted dialogue in the verdict scene, and then when we were editing it, Terry Blythe – who was the editor, who’s fantastic, and a total master of editing, he’s been doing it for so long – he had the idea. He was like, ‘I kind of feel like this could just play with no dialogue.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. It’s awesome.’ And then we watched it like that, and I loved the idea and so I gotta give Terry all the credit for that one.

If Soffer and editor Terry Blythe hadn’t decided on a finished version with music rather than dialogue, the verdict scene might have come across very differently. It’s just one of the choices that Soffer was accountable for making as a director, and he previously discussed what was “tricky” about coming back in this new capacity. Soffer watched the episode how many times in order to make changes. Actor/director’scomments:

That’s really tricky because I’ve watched every take of every frame a few times [laughs], while we were filming it too, so like, hundreds!… The full episode completed, probably like four or five because while you’re editing it, there’s a director’s cut, then an editor’s cut, and then they do the studio and network notes and stuff, so just a handful once it was totally completed.

There was obviously a lot that happened in “Deadlocked” before the dialogue-free verdict scene, including scenes that undoubtedly would have highlighted Halstead in the past: Intelligence in action to track down a suspect with limited time, and Voight battling through bad guys to reach a victim. When Jesse Lee Soffer was a regular on the show, he was frequently the one hopping fences, jumping from roofs, and chasing the bad guys. He directed his co-stars to do it this time.

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Jesse Lee Soffer has significantly more experience performing stunts and action sequences than the average director, so I questioned him about what it was like to approach that kind of scene this time from behind the camera. He acknowledged that it was “really fun” and explained why, in retrospect, he makes jokes about:

Eventually you open some stunt or some fight sequence on the page and you’re like, ‘Oh, god, I gotta roll around in the mud with this guy today? Great.’ So it was nice to just get to relax from a warm chair somewhere [laughs], and put Jason [Beghe] through hell. But he was a trooper and a champ. It was really cool because I love that aspect of the show. I love the action on the show, and I would say I know it better than anybody because I played Halstead for so long. So I got to do that with Voight’s character a little bit, and I think we got to make him look pretty capable still, even ten seasons later. And that was a lot of fun.

Jesse Lee Soffer Returns to 'Chicago P.D.' to Direct: 'It's Like I Never Really Left'

Jesse Lee Soffer is the best person to ask about rolling around in the muck to try to take down an actor portraying a criminal. For this episode, he could direct his co-stars while also enjoying a little more warmth than if he were in the middle of a stunt sequence during a night shoot during a Chicago winter. He could also enjoy a more relaxed approach to action scenes. Jason Beghe was given praise for his efforts by Jesse Lee Soffer. The “Deadlocked” director acknowledged that the difficulties of a Chicago winter were indeed present, saying:

Oh yeah. The night sequences in this episode were in the middle of February. It was zero degrees outside, like negative 10 wind chill. We were working at like 2AM. It was brutal. It was totally brutal. Thank you to the cast and crew for making it happen with me, because holy crap.

When it comes to One Chicago on location, TV magic might be able to make some scenes shot indoors appear as though they were shot outdoors, but that’s not always the case! Sometimes the P.D. team simply has to brave the cold to pull off the best shots, as when Tracy Spiridakos’ stunt double had to jump into the Chicago River for the major Upton episode that was filmed in January last year. Additionally, even though Marina Squerciati wasn’t actually imprisoned down a well in the forest like Burgess, she was in some seriously confined spaces in the 200th episode. Holy crap, to use Jesse Lee Soffer’s phrase.

In addition, Soffer said he would “definitely be open to the experience” of directing once more in the Dick Wolf setting.

New episodes of Chicago P.D. will air on NBC on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.ET, immediately following Chicago Fire at 9 p.m.and Chicago Med at 8 p.m. Although thQuillBot Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.e three One Chicago shows haven’t yet received a renewal for the 2023–2024 TV season (and haven’t recently delivered a classic three-show crossover), their future as some of the network’s biggest hits appears to be bright.

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