As Detective Erin Lindsay on NBC’s new drama, Chicago P.D., Sophia Bush has traded fashionista Brooke Davis’s sundresses from One Tree Hill in for jeans and a gun holster. And instead of three costume fittings a week, “my thrice-weekly activity has become going to the shooting range with the SWAT team,” she says.
We chatted with the 31-year-old actress about her new series and the training she did to portray a cop on the streets of Chicago, and one thing is for certain: we’re not in Tree Hill, North Carolina anymore!
“It’s really gritty,” Bush said. “It’s muddy, everything is gray, I feel like on so many other procedurals things are very black and white and neat. But our show is messy and it’s fun.”
On what drew her to the show.
“I just felt it in my bones. I knew it was for Dick [Wolf]’s show and I think the world of him. They sent me pages—they wouldn’t release the script to anyone who read for the show—so I got four pages and immediately I was like, ‘I already know who this person is.’ I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew who she was. And I just thought if I can be so deeply connected to something in four pages, I have to read this script, I have to do this show. I didn’t know that I had to go to Chicago, but I wrapped my head around that and sucked it up, but I’m glad I did.”
On training for the show.
“We had to do a lot, but I’ve been shooting forever—I have a concealed weapons permit in 32 states and sleep with a loaded gun under my bed. So it was a weird experience to show up with the SWAT team and them say, ‘so you’ve handled weapons.’ And I said, ‘yeah, you know, it’s been a while,’ which it had. I hadn’t been on a shooting range in almost two years, but they’re so lovely and thoughtful with us girls on the show.
“So my SWAT commander was like, ‘just try to hit anywhere in center mass.’ And on a target, you know it’s the outline of a human with a small square around the heart that gets bigger, and there’s one square around the face. He says four shots, and I’m like, ‘mmkay.’ So I fire one between the eyes, one in the forehead, one in the middle of the nose, and I turn around and say, ‘where do you want me to put the last one?’ And he goes [laughing], ‘I don’t know, in the chin?’ And I hit the last one in the chin and he was screaming, ‘she can freaking shoot!’ All of the guys are running in from the back room bay and I’m like, ‘I mean, I’m ok with a gun.’ So that was kind of fun, I have never felt cooler than when I impressed the SWAT team. I can die happy.”
On an upcoming Chicago P.D./Law & Order SVU crossover.
“It’s a special victims crime that brings them there and it’s interesting just to see the way they help our unit with that case, because that’s not our specialty. It’s cool to literally be learning from them, and then they’re giving us the inside scoop on the Law & Order empire and what that experience has been like.
“Coco [Ice-T’s wife] came to set, by the way she’s the tiniest human I’ve ever seen, which I didn’t know. They’re so lovely and hilarious together. Kelly Giddish is radical, we had a ball on set. Ice-T is so funny and so full of information to share with us about just being on a long-term show with Dick and it felt so natural. But then I’d have these surreal experiences where we’re sitting in the bullpen and I’m sitting on the edge of my desk talking about what’s going to happen, I turn and I’m like, ‘oh my god, it’s Tutuola, hi!’ It’s crazy. It was a cool sort of full-circle fandom moment for me.”
On whether characters from both shows will continue to cross over.
“We’re crossing over all the time. It’s really cool. There’s a great scene in the pilot where David Eigenberg is walking Pouch, the dog from Warehouse 51 and he’s in the district office talking to Laroyce, who plays Atwater, about what’s going on at Molly’s that night. It’s so natural and you feel like it’s been happening forever and we’re having a really good time with that.
“Marina [Squerciati] and I keep joking, because we’re bouncing between both PD and Fire and we’re like, ‘two shows, two groups of hot guys, we have a pretty good job.’ And I’m like, ‘yeah, we’ve got a lot of eye candy.’”
On the Internet rumors pushing a relationship between Lindsay and Severide (Taylor Kinney, Lady Gaga’s boyfriend)
“Please, that girl is insecure about nothing. Should we see something between Lindsay and Severide, it would be kind of interesting because Lindsay kind of is the female Severide. So I don’t know how he would take the energy, but we’ll see what happens.”
On how her daily habits have changed as a result of play a cop on TV.
“I’ve always been hyper-aware of my surroundings because my mother grew up in New York when it was not a nice place to live, so she taught me to be paranoid from the day I came out of the womb. But the way that I now analyze people and check my surroundings is so tactical, it’s so specific. I don’t put my back to doors ever anymore and I check people out all the time, everywhere I go. I’m checking pockets, looks, who are you looking at, what’s going on. The way that when bars are closing I watch the way guys are watching drunk women–I’m one hand away from intervening with things all the time. The way that I walk through my neighborhood is different. It’s one of those things, like once you see something you can’t un-see it. I can’t un-hear all the stories that I’ve heard and all the advice that I’ve been given. It is empowering, certainly.”
On meeting idol Connie Britton.
“I die for Connie. We text; my life is also made. I accosted her at last year’s Golden Globes and it is our one year friendiversary. Connie Britton, who is literally my idol and we became friends this year. She is like, ‘you are just such a dear.’ And I’m like, ‘just put your hand on my back and tell me that every day.’ And she’s just the greatest human ever. I will never have hair as good as Connie Britton’s and I don’t even need to.”
On whether she Googles herself.
Absolutely not, that’s the worst. I also don’t read comments. The people who comment on articles on websites are the spawn of satan. It’s sad. It’s insane to me the things that people say to other people. Even on my Instagram last night when I was laughing, Matthew [pr rep] took a photo of me and Andy on the show and laughing. Apparently my smile looked different and someone commented like, ‘what’s wrong with your mouth?’ And I was like, ‘what’s wrong with your heart,’ delete. My gleeful giggle has apparently upset you, I’m so sorry. Andy Cohen just rubbed his beard on my face, it was kind of a moment.