‘Chicago P.D.’: LaRoyce Hawkins on Atwater’s Lies Catching up With Him
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Chicago P.D. Season 9, Episode 11 “Lies.”]
First, after lying to Jimmy while undercover, he fails to get the other man to accept that he and the CPD will adhere to a deal. Jimmy goes off on his own, then thinks the drug dealer, Tovar, who was the target of their investigation, killed his brother and won’t believe Atwater when he tries to tell him otherwise. Jimmy shoots Tovar, then asks Atwater to say it was self-defense. Atwater tells Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) the truth.
Meanwhile, things are going well with Celeste (Amanda Payton) … until Atwater finally tells her he’s a cop. But she doesn’t hate cops, she tells him. She hates the police system. “I would have seen you,” she says. “Because I care so much about you. I would have been with you.” She then kicks him out.
Hawkins takes us inside this episode and teases what’s ahead.
Atwater’s lies really caught up to him in this episode, on every side. That last scene was heartbreaking! So is this the end of Atwater and Celeste? Is he thinking it is? She hasn’t say it’s over.
LaRoyce Hawkins: She doesn’t say it’s over. That’s interesting. I think this is an opportunity for Atwater to learn an important lesson, where he can explore that space, where you ask yourself, where do we live from? And we can either live from where we want to be or from where we are. And Atwater, I think, can learn an important lesson in living from where he actually is and not from where he used to be or from where he used to understand, but what’s the reality? I would say he dropped the ball a little bit. But if I know Atwater, he’s also one that I know you can count on to pick a ball up too.
So are we gonna see Celeste again?
I wouldn’t be surprised.
She says she would have been with him, but she also doesn’t know that he was present when Louis was killed. He’s still keeping things from her, although she didn’t really give him a chance to say anymore.
Yeah. They created, through a crisis bond, a safe space. And I don’t think you can blame Atwater for leaning into that, especially if you know what he’s been through. If you know where he’s grown from, you want that for Atwater. Naturally, you want him to do it the right way, but it wouldn’t be a cop drama if you didn’t find a way to make the boys in blue break your heart. I think that’s the way we try to story tell, right? It’s like when you think about cops and you think about drama, we can define both of those words differently, depending on where we come from. But it’s a cop drama for Atwater because his heart has been broken by the boys in blue, by the Blue Wall. And half the time is because he is Black and both sides of the coin have to be told in an authentic way. That’s what I think Chicago P.D. and this cop drama offers: an authentic way to navigate both sides of the coin.
I love that Atwater told Burgess (Marina Squerciati) about Celeste and she called him out on lying because yes, everyone loves the romantic relationships, but their friendship has been pretty fun to watch since the beginning.
Oh, yeah. And I think it’s dope to understand where it’s grown, too, where once upon a time you know, Burgess and I were like the B-story that kind of added brevity to how dark the episode could be. Now, we’re having these serious grown folk conversations about children half the time. It’s about children and what’s interesting enough is that Burgess and I, we’re the only people in the cast with kids. Both of our children are like a week apart in age. They just started hanging out and it’s really dope to watch them interact with each other, which is cool. But yeah, that’s where we are, and it’s dope how art parallels with the artists.
Atwater also had to face the fallout of his lies during the case, with Jimmy unable to trust him as a result and then wanting Atwater to cover for him and claim it was self-defense. Did Atwater truly think he could talk Jimmy down or was it more that he wanted to think he could?
He wanted to think that he could. I think Atwater kind of saw the direction it was going, which kind of broke his heart all the way up until that moment. I think he tried to hold on to what Jimmy had already let go of, by the decision he made. Obviously you have to feel like you have a chance, a fighting chance. That’s why you put yourself in that moment. That’s why you rise to that occasion because there’s a faith you have in yourself and what you’ve built and who you are and how you can save a life.
Is there any situation in which the Atwater of Season 9 would cover for someone and say it was self-defense if it wasn’t?
Yeah, I think Atwater is capable of that. I think Atwater, just like every character on the show, we have those moments where we’re capable of just as much darkness as we are light. So depending on the circumstance and that’s what’s interesting about every story, right? You have to find a way for the character to earn that, if that is the case. If you’re gonna take one case more seriously than another, then what motivates you? Where do you draw lines or where don’t you draw lines? You have to define those moments for yourself in order for you to be specific in those moments. I imagine that Atwater will be put in a position to have to go the other direction.
I liked that Atwater’s moving forward with his real estate plans. Does he need something away from being a cop more than ever now, especially after what happened with Celeste?
Yeah, absolutely. He needs something that helps him identify as something else, and that’s really his window. Real estate is his window or his back door into the hood, so to speak, because the only reason that Atwater is still a cop at this point is because he wants to help people. He wants to serve people. He wants to serve and protect at an elevated level. That’s why being a detective would be important to him.
But also, the real estate is important to him, too, because if he gets himself in a position where he can occupy homes with Black people or anybody that would need it, where he can save lives because of what he’s able to earn and sustain and what he’s able to offer, opportunity saves lives. The same way he gave a young man the opportunity in “Burnside” to make a decision. And that’s what’s interesting about the young men and women from places like where we come from is that we don’t see the opportunity and the opportunity isn’t clear to us and the opportunity isn’t clear to us because we’re so either distracted or we don’t have the resource for or nobody told us. I think we create more Atwaters by giving the next generation that opportunity.
What else is coming up for Atwater? Are we going to see more about him with the real estate business? Or is that kind of maybe a conversation topic?
You’re definitely gonna see it. Bottom line is, he is very, very, very serious about the opportunity that he has to create more. We’ll definitely see it grow and we’ll see what he does, and we’ll see him be creative, I think, in how he does it because, yeah, it’s not connected to the cops at all.
Are there any more rough cases coming up for him?
There’s definitely gonna be some rough cases, some cases that he connects to, some cases that keep him up at night. We could definitely expect that toward the end of the season. It always feels like it comes at the perfect moment, in my humble opinion, when we run a big play around Atwater. I can’t wait for that next opportunity.
Chicago P.D., Wednesdays, 10/9c, NBC