However, Jesse Lee Soffer is no longer Jay Halstead on NBC’s Chicago P.D. Instead, in tonight’s installment of “Deadlocked,” he makes his directing debut.
The actor made the announcement that his ten-season tenure on the Dick Wolf drama would come to an end in late August, with his final appearance scheduled for October 5. It was announced a few weeks later that he would return to the actors and crew as the director.
The episode “The Ghost Inside Of You” that broadcast on February 15 is followed by “Deadlocked.”
In a recent interview, Soffer stated, “This was the ideal episode for me to direct. “I love this episode because Voight [Jason Beghe] going off the rails, Man on Fire-type things, vigilante stuff, and living in the gray area off the books were like throwbacks to old-school PD. That’s the tale we’ve been telling for so long—it’s something I truly understand deeply, particularly the contrast between Halstead and Voight. So it was really enjoyable to work on that kind of narrative with Jason.
Jesse Lee Soffer, LaRoyce Hawkins, and Jason Beghe on the set of NBC’s Chicago P.D. NBC/Lori Allen
Reuniting with his “tight-knit” family felt “really rewarding,” according to Soffer, who was referring to the actors and crew remembering how much fun they had “goofing off” behind the scenes.
It appeared as though he had never departed. “We were hanging out and having fun when the cameras started rolling and we got to work creating the scenarios. I feel confident in saying that our crew and actors are among the hardest working in television. Being with everyone was wonderful.
It was difficult for Soffer to resist going on camera after working on the series for almost ten years, but he certainly toyed with the notion.
There were a few instances where I considered doing that. What if, for instance, I simply moved through the backdrop while facing away from the camera? Would anyone recognize me? There are a few scenes that I observe on the monitors while standing practically right next to where they are filming. I guess I am there now.
Soffer, Jesse Lee NBC/Lori Allen
In order to prepare for tonight’s show, Soffer has been hard at work shadowing directors Marc Roskin, Bethany Rooney, and Chad Saxon (who is also one of P.D.’s producers). He said of the trio, “They’re all very distinct in how they direct.
“Bethany remarked something really wise, ’20 directors, 20 ways to shoot a scene.'” Thus, there is no incorrect response, he said. What matters more is your personal preference and point of view, together with how you see anything. All of this helped me gain a lot of confidence because I could now say, “I have a really strong and clear perspective because I was on this show for so long.” The episode will be made exactly as I envision it, so I must do that.
Soffer has not changed his mind about continuing in the acting business after learning these new skills. In actuality, directing has provided him with a new perspective from which to continue developing.
“No, I’m not switching careers because I enjoy acting. My passion is acting, he declared categorically. I believe I began thinking, “Well, I really have an idea in my head about how these sequences should get acted or how we should shoot them,” approximately halfway through PD, such as season four or season five. Jason and I would be planning out some situations and determining how to enhance what is written and bring it to life in the setting. Everyone else present joined Tracy [Spiridakos] in doing that. And I believed, “I can do this; I want to try.” And that continued to increase until I felt prepared at last. I’m appreciative that Dick Wolf and everyone there gave me this chance, Soffer continued.
“Deadlocked” – CHICAGO P.D. (l-r) Kevin Atwater is portrayed by LaRoyce Hawkins, Hailey Upton by Tracy Spiridakos, Hank Voight by Jason Beghe, Dante Torres by Benjamin Levy Aguilar, and Kim Burgess by Marina Squerciati. NBC/Lori Allen
Soffer is proud of his years on the program and a devoted fan, although without saying what he thinks his character has been up to while gone in South America aside than ghosting his wife. It’s important to note that he has also heard the rumors about the potential Burzek reunion. *wink*
When asked whether there are any plans for him to follow in Jesse Spencer’s footsteps and bring back Halstead, he was prepared.
“You know, I love Halstead and he’s definitely a part of me. I had so much fun playing him, too, so never say never,” he concluded coyly.
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