Q&A with Patrick John Flueger and Marina Squerciati
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
“Burzek” just can’t catch a break.
Engagement, separation, pregnancy, miscarriage, near-death experiences – in nine seasons of “Chicago P.D.,” intelligence unit officers Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) have gone through a lot together.
But what happened last week might take the catastrophe cake.
Mere minutes after learning Burgess won permanent custody of Makayla (Ramona Edith Williams) – right as they were walking down the hallway to their apartment with celebratory pizza and bubbly – they find the door ajar. The babysitter bloodied. And their adopted daughter missing.
It was a shocking end to an episode in which Burgess had to fight to keep her ward, whom she loves and has formed a bond with over many months.
But it’s been that kind of story arc for these characters, who rallied together after Burgess was shot and left for dead at the end of last season. The on-again, off-again couple has become family – which makes this latest challenge that much more jolting.
Flueger and Squerciati joined BTS for a Zoom meeting in between episodes. Part one is below. Part two will follow the airing of Wednesday’s kidnapping conclusion.
Marina Squerciati as intelligence officer Kim Burgess. (NBC photo by Lori Allen)
Patrick John Flueger as intelligence officer Adam Ruzek. (NBC photo by Lori Allen)
For the non-“Chihards,” “Burzek” = Burgess + Ruzek
Q: Burgess losing custody was certainly something that we considered to be an option, but I don't think anyone expected to see Burgess win custody only to have Makayla be kidnapped. Certainly, for us as audience members, as critics, that was very shocking. Was it shocking to the two of you, or did you kind of get a sense something like this was coming down the pike?
Marina Squerciati: When I read it, I was like, “Oh, they’re happy – no!”
Patrick John Flueger: (Laughs)
Marina Squerciati: It was such a surprising twist when I read it, which, as an actress who has read scripts every week for nine years, it was cool. It was a cool moment to be like, “Wow.” It's just like so unexpected at the end. It was fun.
Patrick John Flueger: I never give a lot of faith in happy endings.
Marina Squerciati: (Laughs)
Patrick John Flueger: I mean, playing that moment outside of “Oh! (raises arms in victory)” Which we never get to do, Mar. We never get to “Yeah!!!”
Marina Squerciati: I know.
Patrick John Flueger: It was fun to play that moment … but I don't know. I knew that the downfall was coming (laughs).
Marina Squerciati: When you watch our show, does it look like I kiss him, or that we kiss each other?
Patrick John Flueger: Good question.
Q: Honestly, it looked like you kissed him.
Marina Squerciati: I kissed him.
Patrick John Flueger: She kissed me, right? And I was a little shocked.
Q: I think that’s fair. Yes.
Marina Squerciati: OK. That’s sort of what we were after.
Patrick John Flueger: That’s what I was going for.
Q: It definitely came across that way.
So, how difficult is it going to be for Burzek to keep their emotions in check, and to put their policing above their parenting?
Marina Squerciati: I think what's important in this show is that, even though we work together in the bullpen, we're professional. There might be little side looks, or little like, “I'm not giving you this piece of paper.” But I feel like that's what keeps it grounded and real. We're adults; we know how to be in the workplace and not make it about our own personal struggle. It's in Chicago. There’s lot of crime that we're dealing with, and then when we’re given scenes to let them blossom, than we do – which is really the cool thing about the show, because it’s a small unit. It’s not like there's a ton of people there.
Patrick John Flueger: Yeah, I think, at the end of the day, we do the job the way that we do the job. I mean, Burgess approaches the job in her way; I approach the job in my way. I think, like she said, it’s kind of like that's how it is. It doesn't really matter, at the end of the day, that it’s personal or not.
Q: Right, but certainly the stakes are a little bit higher with Makayla missing.
Patrick John Flueger: Oh, certainly. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the stakes aren't high; I'm just saying that the way that we approach everything is specific to the character. It's not like we go off the rails and change the way that we do the job because it's her.
Marina Squerciati: Yeah.
Q: Marina, the last time we spoke, Burgess’ life was very much still in the balance. We know there's no one tougher than Burgess. But are you surprised to see her back so fast and so furious? I mean, we've already in this season seen her in some pretty perilous predicaments. Are you surprised to see her just go head first right back into it the way she has?
Marina Squerciati: Yeah; you know, I would have liked the sort of struggle to last a little longer, but I don't write the show. And it's not all about me. Maybe that's in like the Burgess spinoff (laughs), if I could have had that. But you know, it's an ensemble piece. And my story, it ebbs and flows. And my story had ebbed at that point.
I tried in small ways to keep it up. But yeah, I think that part of what's great about this show – and what Jason (Beghe) actually does a lot is helps us to remind us of all of the things that came before. Like, I don't think Burgess would have been so – the way she approached finding Makayla was definitely influenced by the fact that she was shot, and left for dead. It's like one road leads to another.
I sound like a sycophant. I love the show. It's because it's not just like, “All of a sudden, somebody is doing something.” All roads lead to this.
Patrick John Flueger as Adam Ruzek and Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess on “Chicago P.D.” (NBC photo by Lori Allen)
AFTER The Episode (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Burgess and Ruzek find Makayla – not minutes before she was set to be killed by her abductor – and following some tense and conflicting strategy sessions. Though the child seems to be OK, her parents are not – specifically after Burgess (who technically has sole custody) overrules Ruzek as it relates to a ransom drop.
Here is part two of the Q&A with Flueger and Squerciati.
Q: Patrick, in this episode, we see Burgess play the “She's my daughter” card. And, of course, Ruzek seems dejected by that. How do they get past this?
Patrick John Flueger: I don't know that they do.
Marina Squerciati: I don't know.
Patrick John Flueger: I don’t know. That's the best way I can answer that. I don’t know that they do. I mean, I think recently she's invited him in. And that's kind of inviting him out. And so, I don't know. I don't know. You're gonna have to watch and see (laughs).
Q: Fair enough. So, of course, you guys – every season – get hit with the question of “Will they, or won't they.” But I'm wondering, “Can they?” With everything that they've been through, with their personal choices, with their personalities. … Obviously, I don't know if you guys know the ultimate end to this storyline, or the answer to that question … but can they be together?
Patrick John Flueger: That’s actually the nicest question. That's the most valid question I think we've been asked in a long time.
Marina Squerciati: Agreed.
Patrick John Flueger: I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. Mar?
Marina Squerciati: Oh, it’s good. I don't know. It’s like you and I. We’re the best of friends, and we’re very different. It would never work (laughs). You know what I mean?
Patrick John Flueger: Yeah, I know. We love and hate each other all the time. I don't know. Gosh, that is such a good question. Because I'm kind of like, I don't know. I don't know if they're the best thing for each other. But at the same time, it's like it has to be on some level.
Marina Squerciati: I don’t know. Also, I feel like the perfect person for you is the person you can be most yourself with. And, yeah, we saw really ugly sides of them, but they are 100% themselves with each other. There’s something to that. It takes years to get there with someone and, I don’t know; they have it.
Patrick John Flueger: They live together, but they don't sleep together. But at the same time, they just are all about each other, and all about this girl. For two adults in 2022 … for two adults to be so invested with each other, and yet so removed at the same time, I mean, what a leap of faith that is.
So, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question. But I think it's probably the most interesting thing I've ever played, as far as relationships are concerned on television.
Q: You guys have been playing these roles for a very long time. We're happy to see you do it. You bring a lot of talent and skill and ability to these roles. But, do you want the decision to ultimately lie with the writers, or do you want it to be something that you have input into, something that’s collaborative. What would be your vote, as far as where this goes from here?
Patrick John Flueger: (Laughs)
Marina Squerciati: That's not the way it works (laughs). They tell us what to do, and we do it. I mean, if we have something that really bumps on, they'll definitely listen. It's not like a 9-foot door we can't talk through.
Patrick John Flueger: Yeah, we’re lucky enough to where they give us a voice.
Marina Squerciati: I don’t think it’s anything that we could dictate the trajectory. We’re more like, “I wouldn’t say ‘the,’ I would say ‘a.’ ” And they’re like (lowers voice) “OK.”
Patrick John Flueger: Yeah, they’re not giving us a multiple choice.
Marina Squerciati: (Laughs)
Patrick John Flueger: No, but at the end of the day, we love working with each other. And I would like to continue to do so. But it's always up to them in the writers room.
“Chicago P.D.” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC (WGRZ-TV Channel 2)