CHICAGO P.D.: Jesse Lee Soffer on Directing the 'Action-Packed,' 'Throwback' Hour 'Deadlocked' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CHICAGO P.D.: Jesse Lee Soffer on Directing the ‘Action-Packed,’ ‘Throwback’ Hour ‘Deadlocked’

March 21, 2023 by  

CHICAGO PD Jesse Lee Soffer directing

CHICAGO P.D. — “Deadlocked” Episode 1016 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC)

After spending 237 episodes playing Jay Halstead in the Wolf Entertainment universe (189 episodes on CHICAGO P.D., along with guest spots on CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO MED, and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT), Jesse Lee Soffer is embarking on a new adventure: directing.

Soffer, who left CHICAGO P.D. earlier this season, stepped behind the camera for the Wednesday, March 22 episode of the NBC drama, “Deadlocked.”

“Day one, scene one, [my thoughts were] just ‘Oh my gosh, here we go,'” Soffer tells Give Me My Remote in the video below with a laugh. “You know, like, ‘It’s finally here.’ I was definitely nervous leading up to it. Put in a ton of work and time into prepping it. And now it was just like, ‘Okay, execute it. Let’s see if we can do it.'”

“The first thing you’re thinking is, ‘I gotta make my day,'” he continues. “You gotta make sure you get it all—there’s no extra time. There’s no overtime, you gotta get it all…Once we got going, I was just having fun.”

As part of the aforementioned prep, before shooting “Deadlocked,” Soffer shadowed the series—a common practice for new directors—and got to experience the on-set dynamics in a new way. “Shadowing was awesome, just because no matter how much on-set experience you have—I have been an actor since I was six years old, so it’s been 32 years or something—there’s so much that happens behind the scenes in the prep of an episode that you’re not privy to,” he notes. “And so getting to do all that with those directors and our producer, Chad [Saxton], was really rewarding and eye-opening and humbling…there’s so much work and so much focus that goes into it.”

In the episode, Voight (Jason Beghe) testifies against Arturo Morales (Robby Ramos). But it quickly becomes apparent that a juror in the case has been blackmailed, leading Voight and the team to try and help the juror out, while not blowing the case.

“The most exciting part of this script is that it’s kind of a throwback episode,” Soffer previews. “It’s like an old-school, season 1, season 2, Voight story—Voight, man on fire, kind of doing his Voight thing. And that’s a version of the show that I know and love. And so I was excited to play that game with Jason and tell an old-school P.D. story.”

With the stakes being high, and the team only having a small window to help the juror, “the episode is kind of nonstop,” Soffer notes. “It’s like constant motion. And it all takes place over like 48 hours, straight through, which lends itself to a very exciting, action-packed, frenetic-paced episode…it was just fun having an episode that just constantly moves, because you know that it’s going to be an exciting story.”

CHICAGO PD Jesse Lee Soffer directing

CHICAGO P.D. — “Deadlocked” Episode 1016 — Pictured: (l-r) LaRoyce Hawkins as Kevin Atwater, Jesse Lee Soffer, Jason Beghe as Hank Voight — (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC)

In addition to his first time behind the camera, directing also allowed Soffer to add a new layer to his working relationship with his former co-stars. But in many ways, it felt like things hadn’t changed that much.

“Jason, I didn’t have any conversations other than, ‘All right, we’re gonna have a lot of fun. Let’s do it,'” Soffer recalls. “And same as everybody else, for that matter…when you work with people for that long, playing these characters on a TV show, you have a shorthand. And we’ve all spent time, probably, directing each other in some fashion. I know Jason and I certainly have. Tracy [Spiridakos, who plays Upton] and I have. Because you’re making these scenes work, and you’re figuring out how to tell the story and how to bring what’s on the page to life. So it was really seamless. And we’ve all been doing that all along, I would say.”

There was one particular, unexpected, perk to directing: “The trick always is filming in the winter,” Soffer notes. “It’s brutal outside; it was zero degrees for most of the episode. It was the coldest part of the year. So, it was funny, for the first time, ever, being on set and being able to be in true winter gear and not just jeans or something like that [as part of the costume]. I got to have snow pants on! So I would say it was the first time in all my years on P.D. that I was warm in the winter. Mostly.”

Check back after “Deadlocked” for more from Soffer.

CHICAGO P.D., Wednesdays, 10/9c, NBC


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