This was an incredible performance by Marina Squerciati from start to finish, one that will go down as some of the greatest we’ve seen in the One Chicago world. Below, Marina spoke to CarterMatt about her experiences filming this devastating episode, plus the ramifications that it could have on the future.
CarterMatt – This was such a heavy, intense episode. How do you turn your brain off afterwards?
Marina Squerciati – We film out of sequence, so not every day was a heavy hitter. It’s hard when you have those heavy scenes — you want to go home and just take a hot shower and forget about it. It’s like having a really bad day; you have to access emotions that are really unattractive and painful.
Did you know when Burgess became pregnant that this is where the story was going to end?
I think I asked if I was going to get to keep the baby — and it was like one of those Magic 8-Balls: ‘Outlook grim.’ I don’t think I ever got a straight answer. The first thing I remember reading about it was that the end was going to be incredibly violent and that was one thing that we really worked on in rehearsals.
A lot of times in a play, you have rehearsals and in TV you don’t; yet, we really rehearsed that fight scene a lot to try and get it where it needed to be.
Let’s talk about that scene then. It was so raw and brutal, especially when Burgess is in the bathtub and you’re clutching onto this young woman in Emma. How long did it take to film that?
It took a full day and it was incredibly hard to film. It was just the minutiae of everybody working. Typically, you film a scene from one angle, and then switch to another angle, but the water made that impossible. It took an incredibly long time because we had to film one angle up to the water part, switch up into the water part, and then switch the cameras again. It took about 14 hours. That jacket held an enormous amount of water so it became very heavy.
It was all of these things as well as keeping the water warm for the actress who was in it. It was such an incredible dance and I have to give a shout-out to the crew and the makeup people and stunt people. They did an incredible job to make that work.
You’re accessing so many different emotions in this episode — there’s anger, sadness, determination, and then at the very end there’s a quietness from you with the doctor and the scene with Ruzek. It was such a way to describe how Burgess is feeling, almost as though there were no words. Was that your intention?
I don’t think of it like that. When I get a script, first I approach it wondering how it is different — how is Burgess going to approach it differently than the other scripts. Then, there’s breaking it down scene by scene so I know exactly where I am. Because we film out of order, I need to know exactly where I am for every scene we’re doing. Once I got to the end, I knew that Burgess had nothing left to give emotionally. She was just spent. She doesn’t have space for Ruzek right now; she has to deal with her pain.
Someone from the crew had asked me ‘oh, I thought you were going to cry in the scene.’ I always knew that was not the scene. It was just a quieter, more devastating scene than tears would allow.
Following what happened, where are things going to go for Burgess and Ruzek? How do they recover from this?
Ruzek and Burgess aren’t together, but there is going to be this pain that they both share. It’s going to be interesting for them within the next half of the season.
There is this relationship between Burgess and Ruzek, but then there’s also this relationship between Burgess and the job. She always wants to help, and that’s what happened in the moment where she loses the baby — she was trying to save someone else. Is there going to be some trauma after what happened, almost to where Burgess blames the job for what happened?
That’s interesting — I never thought about her blaming the job. I think she very much blames herself. I think that she is just going to need to figure out how to survive and live with these emotions.
Living a joyful life doesn’t mean that you haven’t had trauma, and I think that most of us have realized that the way through pain is time. No matter what I say or if she blames the job or herself, she just needs more time to get over it. While she’s back on the job, she’s not going to be able to access those emotions. They’re just so painful. Right now, I think she’s just going to need to put her head down and move forward until she can deal with it.
The subject matter of this episode was extremely heavy, and I’m sure difficult for a lot of people out there. Can you speak to an element of hope in the future for Burgess, especially for those out there who struggled with what happened?
I think that having a miscarriage is more universal than people speak about. It’s such a taboo subject and yet, so many of my friends and family have had one. I hope they see in the ensuing episodes that there’s no right or wrong way to deal with your pain, whether you’re angry or mad or able to get over it immediately. The important thing is that you deal with it. Burgess in the beginning doesn’t, and that could prove to be her downfall at first. When you’re suffering so much, it’s really important that you reach out to someone.
As always, we welcome your thoughts on this interview and what transpired tonight in the comments. Meanwhile, stick around for more news. (Photo: NBC.)