What Jesse Lee Soffer Has Been Up To Since His Exit From One Chicago

Jesse Lee Soffer devastated "Chicago P.D." fans when he confirmed in August 2022 that he was leaving the show. However, his first gig, since wrapping up as Detective Jay Halstead, saw him return to the "Chicago P.D." set. This time, though, he was there in a director's capacity. 

To recap, Soffer first revealed that he would be walking away from the show in an interview with Variety. A few months later, he spoke with the outlet again, to explain why he left after his 10-season run as Halstead. As it turned out, he'd simply needed to challenge himself by trying something new. Ideally, he told Variety, he'd love to be cast as a lead in another project. "I'd put all of my heart and soul into it," he said. At the time of writing, that hasn't happened just yet. However, in the meantime, he's managed to get some of that aforementioned creative challenge through directing — and in his old stomping ground, no less. 

After years of toying with the idea of directing, a Season 10 "Chicago P.D." episode marked Soffer's directorial debut. That said, as Soffer himself has admitted, even if it was his first go at directing an entire episode from start to finish, he'd had a ton of preparation leading up to it. 

Directing was a whole new experience for Jesse

In his interview with Variety, Jesse Lee Soffer explained that to some degree, directing the show felt natural to him. After all, he and his co-stars had long given one another notes whenever they were working on a scene. However, that's not to say there weren't some serious learning curves. 

For one, he joked to Us Weekly, being in control of having everything on a tight schedule came with a fair whack of anxiety. That said, his pre-existing relationships with everyone on set certainly helped him work through it, and he got some helpful notes along the way. That's not to say there wasn't some gentle teasing, though. Sure enough, behind-the-scenes footage from his directorial debut sees him and other crew members banter it up (via Mad Lads Edits). However, as he told TV Line, he wouldn't have had it any other way. "We all love each other, you know. It's such a close-knit family," he chuckled of the supportive dynamic. Case in point: the "One Chicago" YouTube team was quick to compile a "Best Moments" video from the episode once it had aired. 

As for his former co-stars, Soffer told TV Line that there hadn't been any teasing from them — something he didn't delve into in the interview, but might just be a testament to his abilities. Speaking to Variety, Jason Beghe said of his ex-castmate, "He has the potential, if he has the interest, to become a world-class director." 

... but we'll have to wait to see more from him

From the moment Jesse Lee Soffer spoke to the media about his directorial debut, the "Chicago P.D." alum has said that he would be open to directing more in the future. In fact, he even told TV Line that he'd love to direct one of the other shows in the "One Chicago" universe. However, as a proud SAG-AFTRA member, it's unlikely he'll be working on any projects until the union's demands are met. 

In July 2023, just months after "Deadlocked" hit screens, Soffer took to Instagram to share his support for SAG-AFTRA. Then, in August, he shared another post; one which showed him in the picket line with none other than his former co-star and on-screen wife, Tracy Spiridakos. In an interview with Give Me My Remote about their involvement, Soffer pointed out that they were there in solidarity with everyone in the industry, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. He also shared that at the end of the day, everyone just wanted to be able to return to their projects. "We need resolution soon ... We people want to get back to work," he said. 

As for whether a return to work will mean acting or directing for Soffer, time will tell. However, based on his lengthy tenure on "Chicago P.D." and the glowing review from Beghe, there are no doubts he'll excel at either. In the meantime, he'll be on the picket line.