After Chicago P.D. Revisited Jesse Lee Soffer's Return, Here's What He Told Us About Directing Tracy Spiridakos And Jason Beghe

 Jesse Lee Soffer BTS directing Chicago PD.
Jesse Lee Soffer BTS directing Chicago PD.
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TV can finally get started on what remains of the 2023-2024 TV season now that the SAG-AFTRA strike has ended, but the wait is still on for new episodes. That means NBC continuing to rotate through repeats of One Chicago on Wednesday nights as the 2023 TV schedule winds down, and the latest was the episode of Chicago P.D. that brought former series regular Jesse Lee Soffer back as a director. Soffer spoke with CinemaBlend about the episode back in March, and the rerun had me flashing back to his comments on directing Tracy Spiridakos and Jason Beghe.

Jesse Lee Soffer left P.D. as Jay Halstead after the third episode of Season 10. He didn't stay away for long, though, as he was back on his old stomping grounds just months later to direct Episode 16 of Season 10, called "Deadlocked." The Intelligence Unit had to face a ticking clock and tricky legal situation when a juror was compromised, and Soffer had a lot to do in his directorial debut, although he did share that there were perks from years of playing Halstead.

When I spoke with the actor-turned-director in March, I noted that his last two big scenes as Halstead on P.D. were with Tracy Spiridakos as Upton and Jason Beghe as Voight, and asked what it was like to work with them in particular in his role as a director. Soffer shared:

I mean, effortless, totally. You know, we're a family. We all love each other so much, so it was great. It was like, 'Hey! All right, we're gonna play this game now.' We all have such a shorthand, and we've all done such a good job for the last ten seasons, giving someone an opinion, or making some beat work or come to life or elevating some aspect of the script. So that was fairly easy, to be playing that game with them and go, 'Hey, what if it's this? What about this idea? Don't forget about this.' We've been doing that all along, so it was effortless.

Soffer only had good things to say about working with his former co-stars in a whole new way for "Deadlocked." In fact, he went on to share that he was particularly excited about spending time with the P.D. family again when he came back to direct, saying:

I was just looking forward to hanging out with the cast and the crew. Doing the action sequences, and getting to play in kind of a more intellectual [way], to heavier scenes with the tone and getting to work with Jason. I love acting with Jason, and so getting to play with Jason and having conversations about what his character is thinking about and stuff like that. It's always rewarding. It's always fun.

Jesse Lee Soffer also wasn't just missing from the Chicago P.D. set from his last day of filming to the first day of production on "Deadlocked." He shadowed directors on his old show, and was on set when the cast was filming the milestone 200th episode. NBC actually recently reaired the 200th episode, prompting me to revisit the Burzek comments from Marina Squerciati and Patrick John Flueger that still make me laugh.

Soffer ultimately did not return in front of the camera as Jay Halstead in Season 10, although he shared that he understands when fans would ask if he'd come back. It remains to be seen if he appears in Season 11, particularly in light of Tracy Spiridakos' upcoming departure. While the good ship Upstead wasn't exactly sailing smoothly at the end of Season 10, I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to see Halstead again for Upton's farewell.

While not much has been confirmed about One Chicago's return to television, it's expected that Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med will aim for a 13-episode TV season that kicks off in the early months of the new year. For now, though, CBS is the only broadcast network with a full lineup of official dates on the 2024 TV schedule.