Halstead is back in the Windy City — but in a new role. Jesse Lee Soffer is making his directorial debut on Chicago P.D.’s Wednesday, March 22, episode, titled “Deadlocked.”
“It was great. It was pretty seamless. Working with everybody for 10 seasons together, we all direct each other here and there. We’re all figuring out ways to make scenes come to life and bring what’s on the page to the camera,” Soffer, 38, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the episode’s debut. “And so we’ve been doing it all along. It was an easy transition.”
The actor “feverishly” went over the script every night during the week of filming alongside his former costars Jason Beghe, Tracy Spiridakos, LaRoyce Hawkins and Marina Squerciati.
“Directing is totally different. Acting, you’re just prepping your lines and the scenes that you’re gonna be in. You’re looking over the whole script to figure out the tone and what the story’s about and everything. … And it’s the same with directing, but you’ve been doing it for a couple weeks longer because you were prepping the episode,” he explained to Us. “I was definitely tearing through that script going line by line in every scene going, ‘OK, we’re gonna do this and this is. I need shots of this, that, and the other thing.’”
Soffer shadowed director Bethany Rooney before getting behind the camera and continued to get pointers from camera operator Victor Macias once in production.
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“I kept moving on really quickly because I felt like I had it and we could move on. I was moving at a good pace and he wanted me to take more time and do more takes and to leave the camera running longer. And it was a great note because you never know what’s gonna happen at the end of a take or something like that,” Soffer recalled. “So that was the challenge for me. I was like, ‘OK, great. Cut. We’re good. We’re moving on.’ And he was like, ‘Let it go longer.’ And I was like, ‘OK, good. Good call. You’re right.’”
The In Time actor plans to live-tweet the episode, adding that he’s “very proud of it.”
“I’m nervous to see what people think. I like it. I had a lot of fun doing it, and it’s my taste of how a P.D. episode should go. So hopefully everybody else feels the same way,” he told Us. “I definitely would direct more if the opportunity came up. I’m grateful to [creator Dick] Wolf and everybody at Wolf Films for giving me the opportunity. Cause I had so much fun. It was really rewarding.”
Soffer officially exited the procedural crime drama last year after 10 years, appearing in his final episode as Jay Halstead that October.
“Halstead’s totally in my blood and always will be so, never say never,” he said of possibly returning for a few episodes. “But I’m taking it one day at a time just like everybody else.”
He added: “I really struggled a long time making that decision.”
Coming back to direct is also up in the air — but he’s game.
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“Not opposed to it,” he said, noting that “there haven’t been” conversations yet. “I’m definitely interested in scratching that itch more and learning more and having more directing experience, so not opposed to it. We’ll see.”
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Chicago P.D. airs on NBC Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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