'Chicago P.D.': Marina Squerciati on How Burgess' Big Decision Affects Future With Ruzek (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's episode of Chicago P.D.
Burgess made a big life decision on Chicago P.D., taking in the young girl, Makayla, whose family was horrifically murdered two episodes ago in a gruesome multiple homicide. The decision to take Makayla in wasn't made lightly, but at the end of the day, it seemed like the only logical solution for Burgess to come to after it became clear her new legal guardian was too overwhelmed to care for her properly. Though only temporary at the moment, could Burgess' new role as foster mom turn into something more permanent? It's... complicated.
"The Burgess that came season 1 to CPD would just embrace a child but I think that Burgess has, especially because of her miscarriage, been burned and her relationship with Ruzek is fraught. She's really guarded right now," P.D. star Marina Squerciati told ET. Even with Burgess' unexpected journey into motherhood, she and Ruzek didn't appear to be on the same page by the end of the episode. "I don't think they're in a bad place, but I don't think they're closer to being together."
Squerciati discusses the aftermath of Burgess' decision to become a foster mom, the challenges that arise from that and how this will affect her complicated relationship with Ruzek in the long-term.
ET: What has been the most meaningful for you charting Burgess' journey as she deals with the grief of losing her baby and grappling with whether she wants to go down the road to motherhood again?
Marina Squerciati: The trickiest part has been to not open up too soon. The Burgess that came season 1 to CPD would just embrace a child but I think that Burgess has, especially because of her miscarriage, been burned and her relationship with Ruzek is fraught. She's really guarded right now. So this sort of slow creep to allowing Makayla into her life and hopefully vice versa, I wanted to chart that with the director really carefully to make sure it wasn't too quick, too soon.
What have you learned about Burgess through this process?
I really learned that Burgess' character has total confidence in her abilities as a cop at this point and she doesn't have confidence with her abilities as a mom. It's so interesting. You can be confident in some areas and so hesitant in others. So it's interesting to me, it's interesting to play. Here I go on this journey that I have no idea what I'm doing, I feel like a newbie, I feel like a failure. Whereas when I'm a cop, I feel I know what I'm doing, I feel I am a people person, I know the streets, I know my job, my coworkers. That's a cool thing to play -- weak versus strong, confident versus shaky. I like that.
In tonight's episode, Burgess makes a choice to take in Makayla and become a foster mom. How do you see that decision changing Burgess' life?
Yeah. I mean, there's the micro and the macro, and I would say -- and it is a procedural and we do focus on different people at different times -- the next episode wouldn't be my focus but I did ask Sue, our amazing costume director. I was like, "For the next couple of episodes, I'd like to wear sweats." And then I talked to my hair people, I was like, "Messy hair." I'm a mom myself to a relatively young girl and this morning I was running [out the door], I put the last of my coffee into my microwave, ran down to get into Transpo, the people who bring you to set. And as I'm drinking my Starbucks, I'm like, "I didn't buy coffee today. How old is this coffee?" It's just, trying to be a working mom. I'm trying to insert that into the the micro part of the next couple of episodes. I don't know if anyone will notice I'm messier, but I am.
How does this evolve her relationship with Ruzek? It seemed like he was ready to go all in before Burgess makes this decision. Where do they stand because it didn't appear like they were on the same page by the end of the episode?
I don't really know. I think that scene in the roll-up, which is the carport area, it turned out really differently than both Paddy [Patrick Flueger] and I were expecting. I think we were both thinking that we would do this and the scene. You expect something, you work it a certain way and then when you get together, it just doesn't work that way. It's two people talking, misinterpreting each other. That's love, that's relationships. I don't think they're in a bad place, but I don't think they're closer to being together. I mean, that's the end goal, right? I thought this would bring them closer, but I don't think so.
The conversation Burgess has with Atwater about raising a young Black child was an unexpected moment of vulnerability for her. What challenges and conflicts arise from Burgess raising a Black child?
There are a lot of ways that our show, as a cop show, can grapple with the new world that we're living in. And it's not just about police brutality. I think it's a really interesting way to approach it with a white mother adopting a Black child. And how do you approach that? What do you do from, again, not to be the macro, the micro, but as a white woman, I might not know how to do my daughter's hair. I called my showrunner and I wanted to sort of massage the relationship with Atwater, that there were things I needed to rely on him to understand as the mother of a Black girl. So that excites me that we can approach this anti-racism in a different way than we've been approaching it and hopefully do it well.
Do you have a favorite scene from this episode?
I had so many great moments... I'm an actor, I'm critical of every moment. I would say I'm most interested by the roll-up scene because it felt like a very different scene than what I thought it would be. I think the most intriguing to me, that's the only scene I saw and I saw the last scene because I was curious about it. So that excites me as an actor. It's just, wow. It's not what I expected to come out.
The Burgess and Ruzek relationship is complicated and they've gone through so much already, having lost their baby and trying to navigate the aftermath. Do you see the ebb and flow continuing between them? Is their relationship something you hope they eventually figure out soon?
I feel like that's the show -- for Burgess and Ruzek to figure out their problems. Then the show's over for us. I think it's lovely. They have a really incredibly loving, complicated relationship that I think has really strong bones if only they can get over all the bad things that have happened to them.
Is there anything else coming up you're excited for fans of P.D. to experience?
We're getting another character coming soon, and I don't want to reveal too much about him because they're still creating the character and he hasn't shot his scenes yet. But it's always great to insert [new blood]. We're eight seasons strong, which is a blessing, especially in a time where so many people are losing their jobs. It's a fraught economy that we get to insert some new blood and some excitement into this wonderful, wonderful show that's eight seasons strong. And it's like, "OK, cool. We have a new toy to play with." It's going to be great. It's going to be fun. I'm excited to work with this new character, who I think his name is Cooper.
Anything you can say about this new character?
I think he represents a different point of view. I don't know if it's a suburban point of view, and we're city cops, or a younger point of view. I'm not really sure, but I think him and Atwater go toe to toe a little bit. But again, I'm not trying to hide anything. We just haven't really shot it.
Chicago P.D.airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. For more on the series, watch below.