Chicago PD interview: LaRoyce Hawkins sets up Atwater’s big episode

LaRoyce HawkinsWednesday night’s new episode of Chicago PD is entitled “Snitch,” and it’s one of the best ones of the season — you’ll especially feel that way if you love LaRoyce Hawkins and his character of Kevin Atwater. In the midst of a new investigation he finds himself in a delicate spot with his family, and is forced to make a number of choices that would be difficult for anyone.

As Hawkins told us in a new interview this week, seeing this story for Atwater at this time is a part of the character’s evolution and a journey that he’s very much enjoyed. We’re now in season 5, and signs point to this being the biggest season for the character to date.

Below you can see the first part of our interview with Hawkins — the second part is going to be coming your way at the conclusion of Wednesday’s episode.

CarterMatt – There were some changes before the season in between a new showrunner [in Rick Eid] and some cast changes. What were your expectations coming in?

LaRoyce Hawkins – I was expecting to have to take it up a notch. I got a call from [co-executive producer] Eriq La Salle and he told be straight up — ‘bro, we’re going to give you more this season — not that you haven’t been stepping up in the past, but this will be different. We’re going to be running plays around you more often.’ I approached this whole season with the intensity and focus that I haven’t had in seasons prior. I’m grateful for those seasons because I grew a lot.

It’s funny, because I check the press releases often hoping to see that a big Atwater episode is coming. It only took ’til episode 4 this season for you to get some pretty substantial material. Were you excited to see some of what you were doing here?

I was excited — I didn’t know how early it was going to come, but it was foreshadowed to me that I should expect something like this. I also had several conversations with Rick at the start of the season, and he mentioned that he wanted to watch the character grow more and that was one of the goals that he had moving into this new season. We had a few candid conversations and we got to know each other really well — we’re still building that relationship and that’s something I’m really grateful for.

When the episode came out I was like ‘wow.’ I was getting to see what kind of season this was going to be, and I’m grateful to be able to tackle this.

Has Rick had a chance to see you do much in the way of comedy or incorporate some of that side of you into the show so far?

I let him know when we first met that the comedic muscle is always trying to stay sharp. I think he’s doing a great job allowing some of the humor to come out in the Ruzek – Atwater relationship. I think it’s all in there.

There’s a lot of family material coming for you in this episode. Did you have a lot of discussions as to how you wanted to play certain relationships? What did you draw from?

I definitely had a voice in how Atwater handled the family dynamic. I think that’s a big reason why he is very much a family man — I pull from my own personal experiences. I want to have real conversations — I got little brothers and sisters and it was important that those conversations where somewhat like my own. I felt like it was going to show the difference between the average cop with the family home and the cop with the family home who is really invested into his family. I wanted the chemistry and the synergy to feel real, so I made sure I put the time in with [the actors] to establish that energy.

A lot goes into it in the background, making sure that you are able to mentally pull these scenes off because you really need to pull at the heart in those moments.

This question’s rather broad, but have you gotten a sense that an Atwater love interest could be coming at some point?

Listen, I have no idea. I would hope so. That would be another interesting dynamic to play, but right now I appreciate where things are going right now. I’ve definitely been growing. Maybe by the time we get to that part of Atwater’s life, we’ll be able to do something and I’ll be able to pull that off.

I really like the way that they’ve allowed me to grow and develop from when I was back on Chicago Fire to now. Every season I’m able to add something new to my game, so we’ll see when the love interest comes.

You can see a brief preview for Wednesday night’s new episode below — as mentioned, check back after the episode as we go more in-depth with Hawkins about some of the big moments that we see for Atwater; not only that, but we’ll set up where things go for him moving forward.

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