‘Chicago P.D.’ Boss on Honoring Jay in Jesse Lee Soffer Exit & Upton’s Reaction

Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead, Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton in Chicago PD
Spoiler Alert
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Chicago P.D. Season 10 premiere “Let It Bleed.”]

Going into Chicago P.D. Season 10, we know our time’s running out with Jesse Lee Soffer’s Jay Halstead, but did the premiere set up his exit? It certainly offered one option.

Tensions are high among Voight (Jason Beghe), Jay, and Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) following what went down with Anna. And at the end of the premiere, Voight tells Upton the CI’s death was his fault alone. “You are not my keeper, and you’re not each other’s,” he says. “I’m making choices you don’t like, that is on me. He’s making choices you don’t like, that is on him, him alone. We gotta be done with all of this, now. If it ever shows up on the job again, the three of us, we’re not working together anymore, understood? It’s that simple.”

Showrunner Gwen Sigan teases Jay’s upcoming exit and more to come in Season 10.

Tensions continue to be high for Voight, Jay, and Upton, and it seems like that final conversation between them in the premiere could be setting up Jay’s exit. What can you say about that tension with the three of them?

Gwen Sigan: They’re definitely in a tricky place. There’s a lot of tension between all of them and how they’re dealing with the Anna aftermath and the Los Temidos aftermath, and it’s causing some big fractures between the three of them. We’ll see that play out at the front end of this season of how it affects each of them in hopefully interesting ways.

What can you say about Jay’s exit and when that’s coming?

We aren’t quite getting into it and saying when exactly it’s coming, but I can tell you that it’s going to make sense to the fans when they see the episode that is his exit. We really wanted it to be really a showcase for Halstead and who he is and what Jesse has meant to this show. And that, I think, is Jesse’s best performance, maybe one of his best performances he’s had — he’s been on the show 10 years and he really just executed something that is wonderful. I’m excited for everyone to see it.

Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton, Jesse, Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead in Chicago PD

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Because you’re saying goodbye to this character who has been on the show for so long, what did you want to do with Jay and the people around him in the episodes that he’s still in?

We just wanted to be as authentic to where they’re all at and as honest as what it would look like if a character like this did leave and what that would mean for everybody. So we tried to take it, obviously, very seriously and play it as honestly as we could with every single character and how they feel it. And then what it looks like after it, because that’s so interesting, too, especially for Hailey Upton, who’s married to Halstead, you see how it impacts her and how it falls out. It really puts her in some very emotional and interesting scenarios as the season continues on.

What can you say about how his exit is going to be affecting Upstead? How worried should fans be? They just got married last season.

Their marriage has always been so fun and interesting to write because it came out of these tragic events last season and it was almost the two of them trying to grab onto something that made sense and to grab onto each other, to sort of be each other’s anchor and make it so that there was gonna be something good that came out of all this bad. So they already have this interesting, rocky place that they’re starting out at. And then to see what happens after he’s no longer there on the show, she’s left in this, I would say, almost a vacuum, this emptiness of how do you move on? What the hell does that look like? In so many ways, he’s the love of her life, they’re partners at the job. They almost can always think and know what the other person is thinking. And so to suddenly have that be gone and for Upton who perhaps is not very well-versed in how to deal with her emotions in always a healthy way — she’s someone that tends to go towards avoidance — it’s going to all hit a head and come to a point where we’ll see it and we’ll see it come out on the job and in cases how she deals with being alone.

Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton, Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead, Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess, Benjamin Levy Aguilar as Dante Torres, LaRoyce Hawkins as Kevin Atwater, Jason Beghe as Hank Voight in Chicago PD

Lori Allen/NBC

How will it affect the rest of Intelligence as a unit? The dynamics have to change, and then you’re looking at Voight, who’s not gonna have Jay to call him out on things.

Exactly. That was such a wonderful thing we built up last season was this idea that he was able to pull Voight off the ledge and they worked really well together. But what we thought happened was a lot of Halstead’s personality and perspective bled into Voight and vice versa, where Voight comes from kind of was bleeding into Halstead. So they became this entity together that was really interesting, and now you pull a piece of that away. Voight’s going to be in a very different spot and there’s going to need to be somebody that comes in and kind of counterbalances him and can provide that foil to him because otherwise Voight can be left to his own devices, which are not always great. And so he needs the team to help him. And we’ll see that. We’ll see the shifting dynamics and who comes into that spot and who’s able to keep Voight in line and hopefully be the better angel on his shoulder.

Can you say who that person is?

We’ve got a few people in the unit who could take that slot. You’ll have to watch. It will be a slow burn to see who is able to get in there. But I think fans will enjoy it.

Talk about the dynamic between Voight and the police chief this season. He did offer a pretty good deal, but will Voight take it and can he even stick to it?

We have Michael Gaston playing the chief, and he’s so good. He’s very interesting to watch and always has wonderful performances. So I’m excited for that. And yeah, their dynamic is new for us. We haven’t had a chief come in and really have Voight’s back in this way in a very long time. And so also in CPD fashion, can you ever trust anybody completely at their word? We will learn a lot more about the chief. We’ll learn about his family. We’ll learn about where he comes from and how that differs from Voight and how’s that the same from Voight. Their relationship evolves quite a lot in the front end of the season, and it’s been really fun to write.

Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek, Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess in Chicago PD

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Can Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) ever be anything but very complicated?

[Laughs] I don’t think so. They’re so complicated. This season though, I will say that the second episode is really a showcase for the two of them and we’ll get to answer some of those questions that we left hanging last season, especially with, will they move in together? Are they gonna be able to make this modern family that they have work? We’ll answer that and put them in a new dynamic with each other, which is a little more defined, little more stable. We’ll know where they stand. So you will get a few answers, but they’re always gonna be complicated. They just have so much going on.

Are they ready to be together again?

I think they still have a lot to figure out, which is what makes them so interesting. They love each other. They clearly have each other’s back always, but there’s so much history and they’ve also been through so much that they haven’t quite dealt with. So this season, we’re going to look at a little bit of that and see sometimes there’s these things in your past you don’t even know are defining where you are in your present. We’ll look at that a little bit between the pair of them and see, can they get to a better spot than they’re in? Or is this the best place for them? We’ll explore all of that.

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Are there any promotions coming up?

It’s something we talk about a lot in the room. Yes, I think this season, we might see some promotions. We’ve had it multiple seasons where we’ve thought we would do it and it’s just about making sure we find the right story and the right time for each character to get that detective badge.

How will Dante [Benjamin Levy Aguilar] fit in with Intelligence? It’s one thing to work with them temporarily, but another to do it as a permanent member.

Yeah, it’s going to be a great storyline for him. Benjamin has come in and he’s so talented. He’s been such a pleasure to work with so far. [Dante’s] hard to read. He keeps to himself, he’s from a different area of the city that we don’t always get to explore, and he’s coming in and just like you’re saying, this is a different gig. This is a very elite unit and he’s coming from a patrol beat, and he’s young. We’re playing him as about 24, so he’s coming in fresh and that perspective is very different and he’s gonna have some growing pains. He’s gonna have things he’s gotta learn once you get to this unit and how this unit works. He’s also trying navigate all these relationships and doing it in sort of a pressure cooker so to get to know all these new people — it’s been a really nice dynamic to have somebody new and to see how all of our characters react to having a new guy in there and who becomes his mentor, who becomes his buddy. There’s a lot of fun, new relationships to play with.

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