Exclusive: Marina Squerciati on “Chicago P.D.” & Burgess’ Battles

Chicago P.D. - Season 2
Beat cop Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) is as tough as they come, but she and partner Roman (Brian Geraghty) may have met their match after their guns and radios are confiscated. Their bloody and life threatening encounter is front and center with tonight’s Chicago P.D. episode “Do What You Do” (NBC, 10 pm et/pt).

During our conversation, Squerciati, whose Illinois roots also include receiving a theater B.A. at Northwestern University, talked about the joys of working on Chicago P.D., interacting with the fans, and she also discusses recent involvement with Second City. It was a pretty engaging chat, and Squerciati’s sense of humor was a welcome palette cleanser for tonight’s intense installment.

CHICAGO P.D. -- (l-r) Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess, Brian Geraghty as Sean Roman -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. — (l-r) Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess, Brian Geraghty as Sean Roman — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

Let’s cut to the chase – do they come any tougher than Kim Burgess?

I don’t think so! I feel like I’ve pissed off some of the writers – I’ve been through everything, right? What could they throw at me?

But they found a lot to throw at me this season and on tonight’s episode. It’s one of the most violent, crazy episodes I’ve ever read.

What keeps Burgess resilient through all of her travails? Although she’s suffered her share of injuries on the force, Burgess is still focused on the task at hand.

I think the decision to go back on the streets once you’ve been shot is a really brave and difficult one. I actually talked to cops who’ve been shot about their decision. When you’re a cop, you have to pretend that you’re kind of immortal – from what I’ve understood.

If you think about how difficult it is – it’s pretty scary and terrifying. And then you’re shot and you realize, ‘Oh wow, I could die any moment.’ Deciding to go back on the streets after you have that knowledge is a really life altering moment.

Derek Haas, who penned tonight’s episode with Michael Brandt, is great at writing characters who are pushed to their limits and bringing out their respective humanity.  (Along w/ his work on Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., Haas is the screenwriter behind 3:10 To Yuma and Wanted). 

Yeah I’m so glad you know about Derek’s writing. Derek and Michael (Brandt) are a team – they really do write (that way). And what I love about this episode is there’s been a lot of conflict between certain communities and the cops in the news.

Sometimes network television is afraid to touch on those really dicey topics. In this episode, because I am stripped of my gun and my radio, all I really have is my voice in talking this perp down from killing me – and we really get into the nitty gritty of racial profiling.

With both parties – the perps and the cops – their feet are sort of put to the fire. I think it’s a really important and a crazy, amazing episode.

Was it a physically draining episode as well?

It was like filming an indie movie or filming a play. Most scenes are about half a page in our scripts or a page at most. We had like six page scenes in this episode.  Me and Brian Geraghty, who plays Roman, spent about five days straight in one warehouse with the crew.  The scenes were so long and intense – we really got into it. It’s great.

Chicago P.D. - Season 2
CHICAGO P.D. — Pictured: Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

What’s it like being part of a well-written and acted show. Do you feel hit the creative lottery with Chicago P.D.?

I completely do. Sometimes people ask me who’s my favorite person to work with and every single person brings something different and awesome to every scene. I feel blessed and lucky to work whenever I get to work with anyone (on Chicago P.D.).

Amy Morton, who I work with a lot, is a founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. She plays the sergeant (“Trudy Platt”) who treats me like crap! But she’s a great person and I’ve learned so much from her as an actress.

I really did hit the lottery. You’re right.

You and Amy have your own banter on the show. Trudy and Burgess could have their own Chicago P.D. spin-off sitcom.

(laughs) Yeah. That’s totally right. Patrick Flueger (“Adam Ruzek”) has been wanting to film a behind-the-scenes of all of us just sort of bantering. Not just of me and Amy, but of everyone. He just downloaded a couple of apps that he was showing me and put it to music. So hopefully we can show you the behind-the-scenes sitcom which is Chicago P.D.

What about working with co-star Elias Koteas (“Alvin Olinsky”), an actor who always seems to be in the moment?

The great thing about Elias is that he brings something different to every take. You never know what you’re going to get and you’re never comfortable. And that’s the best kind of actor to work with because they just constantly switch it up. That’s a beautiful thing to be able to play with and flex those muscles.

Do you see yourself down the road continuing a life in the theater?

It’s really huge. I love, love my job and I’m also hoping to pepper theater in as well. I’m taking classes at Second City, which is an improv studio here in Chicago on my weekends and I’m hoping to do a play during my hiatus. So it’s important to keep doing things that make you a well rounded actor and not just stay comfortable.

I’m also hoping to travel and take some time off (laughs)! I’d like to do both ideally.

Chicago P.D. - Season 2
CHICAGO P.D. – Pictured: Brian Geraghty as Sean Roman, Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess — (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

Chicago P.D. has been renewed for a third season, and it’s a great show. But in layman’s terms, what’s a work week like for you?

A typical day is 12 hours, sometimes 14.  I never know my schedule.

I’m working tomorrow actually on Chicago Fire and I wait for a text from the assistant director to tell me what time I’m working. I really can’t plan anything and if I do, I really have to prepare to cancel, which thankfully my friends understand. It’s a crazy life and not a lot of structure, but it’s really fun.

The first time I visited Chicago, I complimented the city, but most of the residents told to me never to come during winter.

Brian Geraghty is the new person on the show and he came during the summer. He’d say ‘this is amazing, this is so great!’ And I kept going, ‘Winter is coming!’

But has it been a great experience being part of the Chicago community?

It has been a great experience. Chicago has been really supportive of the show and wherever we go we’re sort of recognized and it’s really nice that people love the show.

Also, food is really important to me. I’m Italian. I don’t know if you could tell from my last name – the food here is so unbelievable. It’s so good. The only thing that sucks is the polar vortexes but, you know, the hot dogs are worth it. I’ll suffer through it!

What’s it like interacting with the fans of Chicago P.D.?

We always live tweet with the show which is great that we’re able to talk with fans. My handle on Instagram and Twitter is MarinaSqu so we’re live tweeting tonight like always. I’ll be doing a Facebook Q&A today at 11 a.m. pt.

Not to sound cliche or cheesy, but the fans make this show happen. We just got renewed for season 3 because we have so many fans. I really love talking to them and getting their questions and feedback. And when they don’t like something – they’ll tell you!

That’s awesome. Well thank you so much for your time and I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode.

Oh great. Looking forward to it and live tweet with us if you can.

Sure thing. Take care!