If you watch "Chicago Fire," then you may already be acquainted with some of the characters on its sister show, "Chicago PD." It may be busy and demanding, balancing a main gig with another job, but for an actor, it's a dream come true.
Sophia Bush, best known for her role as sassy Brooke Davis on "One Tree Hill," is playing a bad-ass of a different sort. Det. Erin Lindsay is one of the members of the CPD's intelligence agency -- working under Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), with whom she has a mysterious relationship -- and is as tough as they come.
HuffPost TV Canada spoke with Bush, who may be the coolest chick on the planet. She chatted about her new-found love of Chicago (despite its frigidness), being able to kick ass on TV all while balancing her passion for social justice, and wants us all to know that "PD" isn't just your average cop show.
So, confession: I don't keep up with "Chicago Fire." Does it help to have some familiarity with that show when watching "Chicago PD"?
That's interesting. If you don't watch "Fire," you can absolutely watch "PD" and have no problem picking up the show at all. What I'm finding as a fan of "Fire" is how much fun it is to watch both because you kind of get double ... it's even more than getting double the story, I guess, because theoretically, we're talking about two shows, so you get triple the story. There are all these things happening; our writers are so adept at what they do that you understand who people are when they come from "Fire" onto our show, even if you don't watch it. But if you do, when they come on to our show and we go on to theirs, there's so much more life to it, it's really kind of incredible.
Your scenes in the second episode weren't really "coppy." It actually reminded me of Brooke, kind of emotional, dramatic, so I was watching, thinking, "Um, where's the cop stuff?" But then it all happens later. Is it safe to say the show isn't exactly a procedural?
Yeah, it's definitely not. It's not a procedural. We're not a formulaic show that's about the bad guys that we catch. We're a show that's about a unit made up of very complicated and multi-faceted people that gives us a multi-layered show about human beings who're in extreme situations. If you love cop shows and procedurals, this stands a chance to be your favourite one, because you get all of that stuff but you get it with storylines that feel like cable shows. And the action, it feels like it comes out of movies.
And all these things that I'm saying are things that I've actually been told through feedback about the show from some of the toughest critics that I know. I've asked people that don't pull punches to tell me what they think and I'm really inclined to agree with them. It's not just a show about these people who go and catch this bad guy on this day. There's so much inner life and complexity to these characters, to learning about why they're motivated to do what they're doing, and why they care about these things and it feels like it has so much more depth and it makes it all feel so important and tense.
That's good because people like tense. People like to be on the edge of their seats.
Yeah, we're a high-tension wire. I've been thinking about it and our show is a pot that's just boiling over all the time. You could turn it down, but we don't turn it down very often.
Erin has a mysterious past. Well, the entire unit seems to have secrets. How soon will that all roll out? Will we learn about everyone right away, or will that be a gradual thing?
It's gradual. One of the things I really appreciate about our writing team is, the same way we don't wrap up something in a bow at the end of an episode, we don't just dump all the information. Things come out in fits and starts and by the time we get to Episode 6, Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), who's Erin's partner, gets to find out a little bit of why she's so close to Voight but he still knows nothing about how she got there. He knows about once she got there but he doesn't know anything about how she got there. And I really appreciate that. You'll get snippets of it and it all continues to build.
As an actor, do you know what your character is all about or are you filling in some blanks as you see fit?
It's a balance. That's a constant dance when you're working on something. There's a lot that I know, there's a lot that I've chosen to fill in. Recently, I was having a conversation with one of the writers and said, "These are the things that I've put into my mind for her," and he looked at me and asked if I had talked to our showrunner about this. I said no, and he goes, "Because what you just said to me is exactly what you're going to find out in the next episode and that's weird." And I went, 'Well, obviously we're all doing something right here.' Intuitively, we really get each other. That's a very exciting place to be.
It is an exciting place to be, you can't make up chemistry. You can see it, everyone jives.
Oh, God, we do. We have so much chemistry, it's crazy.
Will things be getting romantic for Erin anytime soon? If it's anything like "Chicago Fire," I've seen the ads. There's a lot of sexy time going on over there...
Human nature is to fall in love, fall in lust, crave physical touch, all of that, really. So I think those things will exist for us. They don't exist for us as much as it exists on "Fire." Not to say that it won't. We're just doing so much mad action right now. Let's be real, we're a group of young people in very intense situations, emotions run very high but at the same time, Erin's not great at letting people in so we'll see how that affects her, what could be her romantic life.
What are the action scenes like and how have the people of Chicago been with you guys running around their streets, chasing pretend bad guys?
Oh, amazing. Amazing. I'm so enamoured with this city just because of this rich life that it has, the incredible food culture and the dichotomy of all the good and bad of it. And then you get to know people who live here, who are so welcoming and just so damn cool, and who are excited that we're here, that we're bringing so much industry and so much money into the city. They're really nice people who will show up and watch a scene go down and go, "Hey, that was really friggin' cool," and "We're glad you're here and you're showing people Chicago." That's just so awesome to have everybody here be glad that we're here.
What's it like holding a gun, and holding it convincingly? Because you hold it convincingly. Some ... don't.
I've been a marksman shooter since I was 12 years old...
So it's great then?[Laughs]
Yeah. For me, it's a ball. I'm a big advocate of gun safety and learning to properly use them and it's a pleasure for us to show people basically how it's done. And not messing around, being all, it's so cool, look at us. It's not making it glamorous. It's a job. It's tough and it's scary and it's dangerous and it's nice being able to be real about all of that.
I'm sure you've been asked a zillion times what it's like playing a cop but, honestly, Erin is just so different from your previous roles. How has it been, transitioning into a bad girl of a different kind?
Well, for me, the way that I look at is, without giving away who Erin is: I've definitely been in this position where I've seen a guy in a bar grab a girl inappropriately, freak her out and I've gotten in the middle of it. And Erin's the one who would get in the middle of it, not by going up and saying, 'What the f**k do you think you're doing?" She'd go up and crack him in the face. Imagine her going from being a girl who's a brawler defending somebody who needs it, to a woman who gets tactically trained to defuse situations who then goes and defends people who need it in places where no one is going to help them? She has to not be such a hot-head, but still she's using that streak in her of being feisty and a bad-ass to service the greater good.
That must be a dream to play.
Yeah, it's the best. I spend all my free time on the Internet and on social channels working on social justice projects. For now my job actually pays me in all my time at work ... to work on talking about why social justice is so important, why people need help and why we should care about strangers. It's pretty much the dream job for me.
You often use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog to raise awareness of world events, political issues, things you are passionate about. Would you ever want to make a career out of that, work in politics?
You know, I don't know yet. I've thought about it. At the same time, a little bit like my character, I think I would just want to smack everybody for being so slow-moving and preposterous so I don't know. [Laughs] I don't know. We'll have to see how the years go, I suppose.
Not including your co-stars, of course, so I'll give you an out there, but who is your favourite person that you follow on Twitter?
Oh my God, really? Hmm ... My favourite account that I follow on Twitter is RYOT News. They're reporting like human beings, not like news reporters, on what's happening all over the world, all the time, but at the end of every news story, there's a course of action to take. So you can click to sign a petition, you can click and call a senator, you can donate to a cause, so it makes all the crazy things going on in the world not feel so insurmountable and it makes readers not feel helpless. And that's the coolest thing because who doesn't get depressed when they watch the evening news? And now you can say, you know what, I don't like that and I'm going to do something about it. Or I think what these people are doing is so amazing and I want to support them. That, I think, is just the coolest.
"Chicago PD" premieres Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. EST on Global and 10 p.m. EST on NBC. (It returns to its normal timeslot of Wednesdays at 10 next week on Global.)