ABOVE: Watch Jesse Lee Soffer and Charlie Barnett talk to reporters at the Shaw Media UpFront presentation.
TORONTO — Two of the most exciting shows returning to Global this fall are Chicago Fire — back for a third season — and Chicago PD, which will kick off its sophomore season.
Charlie Barnett plays rookie firefighter Peter Mills on Chicago Fire and Jesse Lee Soffer plays detective Jay Halstead on Chicago PD. Both actors sat down with Global News on Wednesday to talk about their shows.
The two of you are sort of the moral conscience of your respective shows…
Jesse Lee Soffer: Yeah, I’m actually starting to realize that.
…does this make your roles more interesting to play?
Charlie Barnett: I battle with this often. It’s difficult sometimes because you act as a balance between everybody else. You don’t get to have the ripping-your-hair-out and throwing-your-heart-out-on-the-table scenes. You don’t always get the, you know, ‘I’m going to bust some guy up because I’m a f***ing badass.’ In another sense it’s great because you get to see everybody and everything and see how you relate in the world.
JLS: Yeah, for me I actually really like being the moral compass sometimes. I think each of the characters are the moral compass sometimes. Everybody’s constantly conflicted with right or wrong, what they’re willing to do. Except for Voight — Voight, you know what he’s going to do every time. But for all of us it’s in the grey area and it’s always in question and I think that that’s what’s fun because I think that’s what real police work is all about. I don’t think any of it is black and white — I think all of it is grey.
Both shows go beyond the titular workplace and explore the personal lives of your characters. Does that also make it more interesting for you as actors?
JLS: Absolutely. I think it’s more entertaining for the viewers. It’s more challenging and fun for us.
CB: More layers, more levels.
JLS: Yeah, you get to see what these people are taking home from work and how they’re dealing with it.
CB: I mean, how many people do you know in life are like one thing when they enter their job and then they get home and it’s like a totally different thing?
JLS: You get to dive into a character a little bit more and figure out where they’re from and where they’re going and who they are.
Do these roles let you live out childhood fantasies of wanting to be a fire fighter or a cop?
JLS: There’s a part of me that still wants to be a Navy Seal or an FBI agent right now, so absolutely.
So you’re happy when you see that you get to shoot some guy in the face?
JLS: I get a little excited, which is really dark and morbid, but it’s true.
Unlike a lot of shows that are set in cities where they are not actually shot, you guys really shoot in Chicago. What has this been like?
JLS: We love Chicago. Chicago has welcomed us with open arms. The shows are a big part of the city. The city has such a sense of pride for its sports teams and, I think, for these shows.
CB: The community has really rallied behind us.
JLS: And what’s really cool about the shows it Chicago is a big character in the shows. The shows don’t work without Chicago, without the cityscape in the background.
CB: It’s nice to see a show highlighted in that city. I think it’s been a long time since it’s had its glory. It’s cool to see it on a weekly basis.
Jesse, your co-star Elias Koteas is from Montreal. Does that ever come up on set?
JLS: He does every once in awhile delve into some French, which is always fascinating. He knows Greek, too.