Chicago P.D. 's Jesse Lee Soffer Reveals Why He Really Left the Show
Jesse Lee Soffer is finally giving fans insight into why he left Chicago P.D.
Having starred on the NBC crime drama since it premiered in 2013, last summer, the actor made the surprising call decision to turn in his badge during the show's 10th season. And he's never really explained why—until now.
"I've thought so hard about how to answer this question—and there's no good answer," Soffer, 38, who played Detective Jay Halstead on the procedural, told Variety in an interview published Feb. 23. "Except I was ready for more."
"Eventually, you know the character so well, there's not much that can shift or transform," he continued. "I really wanted to grow and expand, and we've only got this one trip. If I signed up again, it would have been for another three years. I would have turned 40 on the show. I thought, ‘You know what? It's time to take a risk."
And it wasn't an easy call by any means, calling the decision to leave the One Chicago world was "one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make in my life."
One of the reasons it was so difficult? The extremely loyal viewers. "I love the fans of our show so much, and I love my fans," he admitted. "I know that they're still grieving this, and to some degree, I am too."
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Soffer's final episode aired in October 2022 and saw Halstead resign from the force to join the army to fight the drug cartel, leaving his wife Hailey (Tracy Spiridakos) behind in doing so.
"I know the fans are upset because, like, ‘This isn't the Jay that we know and love! Why isn't he calling? Why is he doing this?!'" Soffer noted of the storyline behind his character's exit. "But, you know, the show must go on. I don't think I really have the right to feel any way about that. The writers have to do what they have to do to service the story and the characters that are still there. Also, our show's pretty dark, and they love diving into the ugliest, hardest version of life. So for Hailey to have to go through this, it probably just made sense."
So has Soffer completely ruled out a future return to the series?
"Definitely not," he confirmed. "Never say never. I feel so bad for the fans that are like, ‘Is he going to come back?' ‘What's he going to do?' ‘What's going on with him and Hailey?'"
But until his return, he shared this message to fans missing Halstead.
"I like to think—and I hope the fans think this too—that he's just in another country right now, doing what he does best and making the world a safer place," Soffer concluded. "In a family, sometimes somebody moves away or goes to college somewhere else. I still love it. I still love the fans. And I still love Halstead. Halstead's always going to be in my blood. That's never going to change."
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.
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