Chicago PD fans were left hanging at the end of season eight, with a proposal, the shocking murder of a suspect by Detective Hailey Upton, and the kidnap of Officer Kim Burgess, who was left in critical condition.
Season nine will open with Kim still on a ventilator and things not looking good, and Marina Squerciati - who has played Kim for nine years now - admits that even she was left unsure if she would survive.
"I did take it as a compliment ŧhat the fans like me enough, and the character, that it would mean something if I was in peril," she shared, speaking exclusively to HELLO! ahead of the premiere.
Over Zoom, Marina spoke passionately about her love for the show and her castmates, why she believes Kim and Detective Ruzek may be endgame - and planning Stella Kidd's bachelorette party…
WATCH: One Chicago trailer hints at major devastation
You've started filming season 9, how is it going?
It's going great. In the first episode [fans will see] I am intubated and in the second episode I am not doing so well but I am alive. But we had to switch episode one and two for filming due to availability so the first episode I was not doing well and I have PTSD - but then I went back into a coma!
What do you do in that break between seasons? How do you reset?
I love theater and I was an apprentice at a festival called Williamstown so when I started PD I had it all planned that I'd get a lead in the hiatus.
But it's impossible.
My whole cast is so amazing and we give so much that we're exhausted, and at the end we need a break. Plus, it's hard to find a project that fits that six to seven week window!
We all recharge in different ways, vacation with family, and eat junk food and don't go to the gym! That's how I do it.
Marina has played Kim on the show for nine seasons now
Do you stay in Chicago?
I used to stay in New York as that was my home base and then I had a kid, so now I call Chicago home.
Do you have a ritual to get back into the headspace of Kim?
She is a second skin now and I know her so well that I can slip back in. So for me, it's more about the situation that the writers want to put me in, and that's what I have to work on. 'This is new, how do I do this?' But I know her so well now.
I had to do a really cool undercover scene in 9x02 and it was unlike anything I've ever done, and that took some muscle.
Looking back at reading the script for the season eight finale, what were your thoughts of what this means for Kim?
Do I survive? But luckily I can stay with the Chicago family.
My showrunner, Ricky, called me and told me it was not a death sentence. But I did take it as a compliment ŧhat the fans like me enough, and the character, that it would mean something if I was in peril and from the tweets and comments it is very sweet and I am honored that people care.
Season nine will open with Kim in critical condition
You mentioned Kim will have PTSD, can you talk a little about that arc?
She's really affected in the beginning. Whatever she is suffering though, she's put a mask on in front of her kid, which is something we all do. We want to show our kids our best selves [because] we want to make them into the best people we can.
But she is fighting a darker side of herself and that's winning. Ruzek is there to help with Makayla but the real challenge will be [Detective Hailey] Upton and Burgess, because Upton knows Roy is dead and Burgess' PTSD is [manifesting] because she thinks Roy is out there waiting to get her.
That relationship between Upton and Burgess hasn't been explored, and I am excited to see, in little ways and big ways, how that brings us together and pulls us apart.
Kim adopted Makayla and then made Adam her custodian - can we expect to see more of Makayla and Adam in those opening episodes as Kim recovers?
Yes, 100%. I think Adam is taking on this familial quality this season. Every season has a theme and this one is home, and I think Ruzek is trying to find this whole meaning [in life].
Makayla and Kim have a home, and I think Adam is ready to be a part of that.
Kim sees Burzek as endgame
Do you see Kim and Adam being endgame?
I am a romantic and I see everyone as an endgame. I am always shocked when people break up. I think, ultimately, all the couples in our show belong together but it's less interesting when they are together, it's more interesting to watch the journey.
But hopefully the show finale will be one giant wedding party. Although if Upton and Halstead ever get married, it's for sure in Vegas!
The connection between Kim and Adam is one that fans love, can you talk a little about building that chemistry with Patrick?
It just grew. He is one of my best friends, and he and I have a love language that we share.
We can give each other notes - in acting and in real life - he'll say 'you're being rude!' We are very close and that shows on screen, it really helps.
Patrick and Marina are "best friends"
Did you have that chemistry from the beginning?
I was the outsider because the [cast] had done the pilot together and it takes a while for me to get comfortable and get to know people.
But they are all good-looking guys, I'd have chemistry with everyone! Everyone is so lovely - Tracy and I would probably have chemistry.
How much input have you and Patrick had over the years in their trajectory?
Not much really, I trust the writers. Occasionally I'll say: 'Hey can we explore the Upton and Kim relationship?' but that's more of a 'can we?'
I trust them, and they show up, and every script is better than the last.
Will we get more of the friendship between Kim and Hailey this season?
I had asked for more of this female friendship, and they were already going in this direction, so it's pointless for me to bring things up!
It would be exciting to see [Hailey and Kim] blossom and develop - I hope - a friendship.
As an actor how do you handle storylines you don't like for your character?
It's hard to be brave and see your character do unattractive things, and you have to remember it's not a reflection on you.
Every once in a while your ego flares up and you have to say: 'Is it Burgess or is it Marina?' Burgess probably does unattractive things Marina wouldn't do.
The show is part of the One Chicago franchise
The series is known for its crossovers, what can you tell us about this year's crossovers?
Every episode we get a schedule and it will say 'someone is out because of interviews,' or something, and then it did say 'LaRoyce [Hawkins] out for Chicago Med,' so I do know he's on Med.
I always annoy Derek Haas and say 'put me on Fire,' and he hasn't received a text from me yet so he should expect one soon.
Which One Chicago stars do you wish you had more opportunities to film with?
I want to be on all the shows! I want to be on SVU! Put it in your article, I love that show.
But for Fire, I'd love to party with Stella Kidd! I think we'd have a good time. Oh I would plan an excellent Bachelorette party.
That would be an excellent crossover story…
And I would do it totally wrong. Everyone has to wear matching dresses, and Stella is like 'this is not my vibe.'
The cast of the entire franchise have all become great friends
What have been your favourite moments to film?
I don't have favourite moments but the most challenging ones stick out.
When Kim lost the baby, and I was in the bathtub, you film one side and stop, and finish and then move to the other side - that's why filming takes so long - and we had to stop every time because after I got wet it was impossible to reproduce the dry look, and it took hours and hours. I love those challenges, after nine years, to still be surprised. It's a gift.
Would you love to work behind the camera?
I feel like a lot of actors want to direct but I am more of a writer. I did a comedy series on YouTube called Special Skills; I like writing comedy.
What was it about Kim Burgess back in 2014 that made you say yes? Did you audition?
I remember the audition - it was a very different show and Kim was supposed to be an ex flight attendant.
The casting director's office door was open and I heard everyone audition, and everyone was leaning into the flight attendant side of the girl's personality - very stereotypical and demure, asking for permission - and I was like "eh, I will lean into the side of the girl who wants to be a cop". It's clearly not working as a flight attendant.
So I went in and just yelled the whole time and I got it!
Marina is mom to a little girl
What's next for you?
Mostly working on my writing, and my comedy writing with my partner Patrick Webb; I'd love to have a comedy on TV before I leave the planet.
I have trouble with the idea that being a mom is the most important role - I think that's what you're supposed to say, and I love it, I am so happy being a mom but I also thoroughly enjoy my work and I don't want to pretend I've lost my drive just because I am a mom now and that's all I can focus on.
One Chicago returns to screens on Wednesday 22 September at 8/7c on NBC
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