Jesse Lee Soffer Talks Halstead’s Journey Ahead of ‘Chicago P.D.’ Fall Finale

Chicago P.D. - Season 7
Matt Dinerstein/NBC
CHICAGO P.D. "Absolution" Episode 709 -- Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Det. Jay Halstead -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

In tonight’s fall finale of Chicago P.D., titled “Absolution,” officer Jay Halstead (Jesse Soffer) has been taken hostage, and despite his past conflicts with Sargent Voight (Jason Beghe), the Intelligent Unit team will leave no stone unturned until he’s rescued!

TV Insider caught up with Soffer at the recent NBC/Vanity Fair party in Los Angeles before the actor hopped a red eye back to the Windy City. He chatted about his character’s journey this season, his stint on the gone-but-never-forgotten serial As the World Turns, and his recent reunion with former TV dad Gary Cole, who played Mike Brady to Soffer’s Bobby in two Brady Bunch movies.

Read on to get the scoop!

How would you describe Jay’s journey this season?

Jesse Soffer: This season, it’s been a little bit more of the same and a little bit of something new. Jay always goes off the rails and does his own thing. His arrogance gets him into a lot of trouble. At the beginning of this season, he and Voight found a bit of an understanding, but then Jay didn’t trust Voight because he thinks he murdered Kelton (John C. McGinley). I think the two of them have a mutual respect and they’ve grown closer.

(Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

It’s fun to play. It’s been seven seasons and it’s still fun. This is the longest gig I’ve ever done.

Let’s talk about your second longest.

[Smiles] Yes, I played Will Munson on As the World Turns [from 2004-2008]. I did it for four years and when you work so long for with the same cast you get [close]. They see your dirty laundry. We were all a big family like we are here on this show. I’m still in touch with Jen Landon (ex-Gwen) and I say hi to Roger Howarth (ex-Paul; now, Franco, General Hospital) and my TV mom, Colleen Zenk (ex-Barbara).

You had the prettiest mom on TV. Who gave you advice on that show?

[Laughs] That’s right! Colleen Zenk, that’s right! She was very much a “mom” to me. She was a caregiver, just lovely. The person on the show who gave me the best advice was Roger. He’d say to me, “Save your money, kid!” That was his advice!

You left ATWT in 2008 to venture off into other genres, but then came back for a few months after it was announced that the show was going off the air in 2010.

I did. I came back after being gone for a few years. I had no hesitation about doing that. I felt very grateful to [ATWT]. When I was on ATWT, our audience was dwindling. The show was on for 54 years! I was so grateful to have been a part of that era of television. It was something special to be a part of it, especially at the end.

An even earlier credit was your turn as Bobby Brady in two Brady Bunch movies. Do you still get checks for those?

I do – I think for, like, 12 cents!

What are your memories from taking part in those iconic spoofs and had you watched the original series in reruns?

I had watched them, and I have good memories of being in those movies. We were [spoofing] the Brady Bunch in the films, placing them in the [then] modern era of teenage problems and all their angst. I loved the cast. We had such a great time.

Gary Cole [who played Mike Brady, Bobby’s dad] was just on Chicago Fire [as Carl Grissom]. I worked with him. I said, “Gary, I’m Jesse Lee from the Brady Bunch movies” and he asked me who did I play. I said, “Bobby.” He [joked], “Jesse if you look like this, I should be dead!” He was awesome! It was a great experience to work with actors like him and Shelley Long [who played Cheryl Brady] when I was younger.

Gary Cole as Chief Grissom (Parrish Lewis/NBC)

Do you like doing the Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med crossovers?

I do. They’re great for the fans, the audience, and for ratings. We love seeing the fans’ response to them. Logistically, it’s a nightmare for [production and schedulers]. To write and create, essentially, this three-hour movie. Doing them is like guerilla warfare. These guys are filming over there, another in another place. Somehow, it all comes together. It’s pretty cool to be a part of and it’s pretty magical.

Chicago PD, Wednesdays, 10/9c, NBC