EXCLUSIVE: Chicago P.D.’s Jon Seda on Portraying a Police Officer: “I Feel a Moral Responsibility to Good Cops Everywhere”

Exclusive: ‘Chicago P.D.’s’ Jon Seda, “Portraying an officer on TV, I feel a moral responsibility to good cops everywhere.”

You love Jon Seda. Whether your little Latina heart swooned over his portrayal as Selena’s bae in the 1997 biopic or your brother identified with his playboy character, Chino, in I Like It Like That (damn, your bro got issues), the Puerto Rican actor has been representing the diverse faces of Latinos for decades. In his current role as Det. Antonio Dawson in NBC’s Chicago P.D., Seda sinks his teeth into one of his meatiest roles yet. Here, he discusses portraying a police officer in a post-Eric Garner society, his career goals, and how many Italians he’s portrayed on screen. 

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What can you share about the second half of this season’s Chicago P.D.?

I think that this year we’re starting to really settle—last year we only did 15 episodes, I think that we were just starting to really hit our stride and we're starting to discover who we are as characters and discover the show. This year we’re diving into a lot more personal things in regards to the character. Last year it left off with my character’s marriage looking like it might be on the rocks and that’s something that’s really dear to Antonio, and this year you’ll see the results of where that’s going to go.

One cool thing about this show is that they touch on real life police officers and what people in uniform go through, and a lot of that is home life and how it affects not just themselves, but how it effects their family. And that’s something that you’ll see through Antonio’s character this year amongst some big surprises with a lot of the cases. He’s been going through a lot–he’s been shot on Chicago Fire, and shot last year on P.D., dealing with stuff with his family.

Being that P.D. is a Chicago Fire spinoff you see a lot of crossover episodes.   

Yeah, I think that’s what’s really unique about it. In the real world, they all coexist–the EMTs, the fire department, the police–whenever there’s a scene that happens from an accident or a traffic accident or any kind of homicide, they all show up together, so I think to actually be able to have episodes where we crossover, and my sister played by Monica Raymund who plays Gabriella Dawson on Chicago Fire–to be able to see those worlds come and cross with each other is really good. And hey, man, more of the paycheck!

God forbid you were in a situation where you needed police assistance, which Chicago P.D. character would you go to for help?

I’d go to Olinsky (Elias Koteas) because he’s a seasoned veteran; it’d be a toss-up between him and Voight (Jason Beghe). But I guess it would depend on why I would need them for; they each have different skill sets and different reasons why you would want each one. But the reason I would say Olinsky is that he’s very quiet, he’s seasoned, he knows both sides–he knows Voight’s side, which can be kind of rough and tough and don’t ask questions and worry about that later–and he also knows the other side of what’s by the book, and what’s the right way to go about things. I think he has such a good balance between both, whereas I think Antonio could be too much by the books sometimes and Voight can be really like a pit bull so I think Olinksy is kind of that balance between everyone. 

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