Sophia Bush played privileged and rebellious high-school cheerleading captain-turned fashion designer Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill for almost a decade. But while it may take time for some fans to wrap their heads around her new role as a street-smart cop, her Chicago P.D. alter ego isn't all that much of a stretch.
"I have a concealed weapons permit in 32 states and sleep with a loaded gun under my bed," she told reporters earlier this month. "This feels much more close to sort of my soul than anything else ever has before."
Buh-bye Brooke Davis, indeed. On Chicago P.D. (Wednesdays, 10/9c, NBC), Bush is hundreds of miles away from her old Tree Hill stomping grounds both literally and figuratively as Det. Erin Lindsay, a former confidential informant for Sgt. Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) from the wrong side of the law who has since risen quickly in the ranks up to the Intelligence Unit. "That's where all her street smarts come in," Bush said of her character's sketchy past. "It does inform a lot of her work though because the thing that I've learned from spending so much time with these undercover officers is that your intuition has to be so on point to be good at your job. ... Lindsay comes from the street so she already knows how all these people work."
It's that same intuition that led Bush to the project after her long run on One Tree Hill and, more recently, the short-lived sitcom Partners. "I felt it in my bones," she said. "I got four pages [of the script] and I was like, 'I know who this person is. I didn't have to think about it. I just knew she who she was.' I thought if I can be so deeply connected to something in four pages, I have to read this script, I have to do this show."
That connection has already come in handy for Bush, especially it comes to figuring out Lindsay's mysterious life before her turn as a C.I. "[The writers] had told me a few things, and then I sort of came to them a few weeks later and was like, 'Listen, in my brain these are all the things that have happened to her and this is the experience that has sort of shaped her. I just want to know if I'm making sh-- up that is so out of left field," Bush recalled. She wasn't. "[Series writer Tim Walsh] was like, 'Literally, 90 percent of what you have said to me is sh-- we have written for you. This is not normal.'"
More of Lindsay's history will be uncovered as time goes on. "It won't happen quickly," Bush said. "It will happen in layers, and there's some great stuff with Lindsay and Halstead in Episode 6. She gives him the most backstory that she's given to anyone and it still just kind of scratches the surface. It just talks about her life from when she met Voight. She still doesn't give him anything about who she was or where she was before that."
Like her mentor, Voight, Lindsay isn't afraid to cross boundaries to get the job done. However, they will have their fair share of differences as well. "If you have to bend the law to service what is right, fine, as long as you're not doing something insane, but Voight sometimes goes from bending to doing something completely outside the box," Bush said. "That's where she'll step up and say, 'I don't think that's a good idea. We have other ways to do that.'"
Lindsay will also become close with her new partner, Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), but he'll have to work to earn her trust. "Halstead also has an interesting story. He's an ex-military guy, he served in Afghanistan so Lindsay knows that he's been tested more than the average person, which is something they have in common," Bush said. "She's slower to let people in, but when she does it, she'll die for you, and Lindsay and Halstead are building that kind of a friendship. They bust each other's balls like crazy. They have a great chemistry and I think because Jesse and I have been such good friends for a long time, we have a great working chemistry."
That chemistry has extended to her counterparts on Chicago Fire. "In that sort of perfect sweet spot where we're on a break and they're on a break, and everyone pours out of the sound stages. It's utter shenanigans," she said. "It's like a fraternity house. It's gross, it's messy, and we're having a very good time."
Although certain aspects of the job, such as her rapport with her co-stars and her excellent shooting skills, have come easy thus far — "I have never felt cooler than when I impressed the SWAT team," Bush said of one of the cast's recent trips to the shooting range — there are other things she is still getting used to. "I didn't know that I had to go to Chicago. But I wrapped my head around that and I sucked it up," Bush said in reference to the city's chilly temperatures. "I'm glad I did."
Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.
(Reporting by Sadie Gennis)