“That was amazing. Jesse’s such a talented guy. And he’s been doing this for so long,” Hawkins, 35, exclusively told Us Weekly on Monday, June 26, while promoting his partnership with SimpliSafe. “His eye is very well seasoned when it comes to just pictures and frames.”
The Illinois native, who plays Kevin Atwater on the NBC series, explained that Soffer, 39, was “something like a player-coach” when he was still on the show. Soffer portrayed Jay Halstead for nine seasons before announcing in August 2022 that he was exiting the cop drama at the beginning of season 10. He returned to set in early 2023, stepping behind the camera in his directorial debut that March.
“We trusted him right away. We knew that he had that director bug in him and we were excited to watch it activate,” Hawkins told Us of his former screen partner. “And I think his episode [‘Deadlocked’] was great. We’re looking forward to working with him again.”
While the South Side alum enjoyed seeing Soffer back with their P.D. castmates, he confessed that it’s “always hard” to adjust when someone leaves the show. (Soffer is the most recent casting shakeup, following Sophia Bush in 2017 and Elias Koteas in 2018.)
“It’s definitely not the easiest thing to deal with because our show is really built on the fabric of family. And when we start finding the rhythm with each other, and the synergy and the chemistry feels great, it’s hard to penetrate,” Hawkins told Us on Monday. “When we lose a piece, it becomes hard for us to find that new rhythm again with the pieces that we have.”
He added: “The core has been together for a while. So, it doesn’t take us too long to get back into it, but to be transparent with you, we do take something like a synergy hit every time that happens.”
The North of the 10 actor noted that the P.D. cast is “very much like a family,” which also stretches to the rest of the One Chicago group.
“It’s like going to your Auntie’s house and playing with your cousin. It’s family,” Hawkins told Us of working with the Chicago Fire and Chicago Med casts from time to time. “It feels familiar. You’re at home, [but] you still gotta ask permission before you go in the refrigerator, but [when you do] you’re welcome to whatever you want. It is like one of those dynamics.”
The NBC personality joked that there is a “soft sibling rivalry” between all of Dick Wolf’s Chicago-based shows.
“We tease Chicago Med because they’re never out in the elements and, you know, just kind of stay in their plush scrubs and they’re extremely comfortable,” Hawkins revealed. “We tease Fire sometimes because they’re probably the most dramatic out of all of us.”
The Chicago P.D. team, however, isn’t immune to the teasing either. According to Hawkins, the other stars say, “‘Oh, what was it like to really have stories?’ And it’s like, ‘Y’all are funny.’”
Hawkins reiterated that they all “love each other” in the way that “distant relatives” do. “When we can share the battlefield together, it’s always a good time,” he added.
As Hawkins gears up to reunite with his P.D. family for season 11, he is keeping his police instincts intact by teaming up with SimpliSafe. On Monday, the company launched its 24/7 Live Guard Protection program, which means a SimpliSafe employee is monitoring a user’s home in real time in case a break-in happens.
SimpliSafe also created the Smart Alarm Indoor Camera, which has an alarm that goes off the moment someone comes into the space. A live correspondent is then able to speak to the intruder as another level of protection.
“When I learned about how SimpliSafe was really simplifying the difference between comfortability and safety and how it’s really do-it-yourself easy [I signed on],” Hawkins told Us. “It is not difficult or complicated it to understand and it’s 24/7, especially with this new product that we’re launching. It just made more sense. It was a perfect combination.”
Learn more about SimpliSafe’s newest products here. Catch Chicago P.D. on NBC when it returns in fall 2023 for season 11.
With reporting by Johnni Macke