Chicago PD postmortem: LaRoyce Hawkins on Atwater’s decision, what’s next

LaRoyce HawkinsFollowing tonight’s Chicago PD episode we’re back with the second part of our interview with LaRoyce Hawkins, and there’s certainly a lot to break down. This was one of the most emotional episodes of the entire season — he came close to killing Kurtis at Voight’s behest, and beyond that, his decision to use his little brother for information during the investigation could come back to bite him. More so than ever before, his family may be targeted as a result of his actions. This episode was entitled “Snitch” for a reason.

Below, you can see what Hawkins had to say about the powerful scene with himself and Jason Beghe (including some of the alternate takes that were filmed), how that moment could impact Atwater, and what’s coming up later this season. (You can go back and read part 1 of the interview here.)

CarterMatt – That scene with you and Voight was outstanding where you were debating whether or not to shoot him. Can you go into what you were thinking leading up to that?

LaRoyce Hawkins – That scene, that was one of those days where you don’t know what you’re about to go to set to do. I imagine that’s how LeBron James approaches game 4 of the playoffs — ‘I have to put up 36 points tonight.’ That was my approach to that day — we did all of that chase stuff that day and it culminated with us doing that scene at the end with Jason. That was intense. I did my best to utilize the information that I had — we don’t have the luxury of shooting in order, so I spent a lot of time trying to live moments that I hadn’t [filmed] yet.

The good thing was that Jason was so dope and Lawrence [Adimora], who played Kurtis, was so dope. We really played with stuff. There were a few takes where Voight was screaming in my ear, telling me to do it. Imagine how intense that is. Then, there were some takes where he was the subtle devil on your shoulder. We played it so many different ways. I played it a few different ways with a few different lines. It was very freeflow, and I imagine that the director had so much good stuff to pull from.

It was great on set. It was like an acting master class.

What do you think Atwater takes away from this? Is there a relief that he didn’t end up shooting him?

I think that was a good window for the audience to see what kind of cat Atwater is. In that moment I did my best to create a couple of options but also really narrow it down so that you know who Atwater is. He makes the decision to not shoot him before he gets caught. There was a couple of different ways it could’ve went, and I just did my best to make the decision in the moment. I think that ultimately with the end result you see who Atwater is; hopefully, when you see him in a situation like this later you’ll trust what you see from him in this moment.

We saw at the end of the episode Atwater being extremely nervous about everything around him in the aftermath of what happened with Kurtis. The synopsis for next week teases that Atwater has to make a big decision about keeping his family in this neighborhood. Is there anything that you can set up there?

We could be approaching a moment where Atwater have to consider the consequences of being a cop. What do you give up to be good at your job, or what sacrifices are you going to have to make in your personal life to be good at your career? Playing a cop and having to make those decisions, especially in the city of Chicago, it means a lot to have this story and paint the picture of that guy because that guy is out there. There are plenty of guys out there struggling with family situations and being a cop. I grew up with people who are the kind of people  who majored in criminal justice and are cops right now. I get a chance to tell their story.

You’ll see a lot of [decisions made] this season, not just from Atwater but from everybody. There will be a lot more gray; not everything is as black and white as it used to be.

Is there anything coming up that you’ve shot that you’re really excited for people to see?

I’m looking forward to people seeing the shoe drop [from what happened tonight] in next week’s episode. I like to think that [episode] 4 prepared me for the moments in 5. It’s honestly a back to back and it’s an emotionally charged situation for Atwater. I had a great time shooting with all of the guest stars who showed up; everyone who came in stepped up to the plate.

You saw this week some action and some pretty dope, subtle moments — I like to call them hero moments for Atwater that you don’t see all that much. In [episode] 5 you are going to see him deal with [what happened] and lean into it. I haven’t seen it yet, but I remember having a great time filming it. Eriq La Salle directed it and it’s pretty heavy. It deals with a very interesting storyline on the back end, too.

What do you think is coming up for Atwater next?

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