When her character was first introduced to Chicago PD, Tracy Spiridakos’ Hailey Upton was only meant to be on for three episodes, but that changed and Hailey Upton became a series regular. She’s been a great addition to the cast and the writers know the fans want more Hailey and for those following along, we’ve gotten more.
From the unexpected pairing with Ruzek to working with Halstead, it’s been fun watching Spiridakos join the cast and follow Upton’s storyline. I caught up with the actress for a brief chat about playing the fan favorite on the show.
How did Chicago P.D happen for you?
It came through as an audition that my agents got for me. I put myself on tape for the part and it came through as a three-episode arc with the potential to stay. At the end of season four, as we were heading into five, they let me know that I’d be coming back.
It was so exciting to see. What was it like for you coming into the show in season four and something that’s already been established?
It always feels like the first day of school. You walk in and you’re a little nervous. I just want to love everybody. They were all so lovely and I felt comfortable there right away. I remember walking in and thinking to myself to just enjoy it and whatever happens, will happen. So the first three episodes, there were nerves, but I enjoyed it and thought it would be a cool experience no matter what. When I left and I got told I’d be coming back, I got so excited, but then I got more nervous because then I really thought, “I really like all of them and I want to stay forever.” I think coming back to season five was where I got most nervous, but so far it’s been so good.
When you go from three episodes to a full series regular, do you craft a backstory for her?
Yes. Definitely. I had created a bit of that for her beforehand. I did it when I was doing the three-episode arc. I wasn’t sure if I was staying at that time and I wanted to have a clear idea of who she was. At the time, I knew something from the writers. She was half-Greek and her family owned a restaurant. The writers knew I was half-Greek and my family owns a restaurant so they had done it on purpose to keep the two together. For me, they thought it would be fun. I didn’t know much else about her going into it so I created a backstory. I thought about what she likes to do on her downtime, the kind of music she listens to and I really like that stuff. It’s fun to imagine. Sometimes, you do end up being wrong. As the story progresses and the story evolves, they might have a different idea, but you evolve with that as it goes. I had a really good time imagining what she was like when she was five. It’s lots of fun.
What’s it fun playing a detective and play a cop?
It’s been interesting. We have an incredible tech supervisor who talks to us about things we could be thinking about going into an interview, or approaching a situation tactically going in to clear a room. You’re looking around a corner for this or that. He’ll talk about going into the headspace of what you want to see. There are tells that you can look for. It’s all really interesting to learn. He’s been a great and valuable asset for me to get into that. I learn different things every day.
What about the whole social media uproar with Adam and Upton when that first happened? Do you get into it?
I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be when I heard about it. When I heard we were going in that direction, I love that people are passionate about the show. I don’t take any of it personally. I love watching TV and movies and I get behind everything. I think it’s interesting how it goes one way or the other where people are either 100% for it, or 100% against it. I just do what they write for me. I think it’s great that the fans love the show so much.
We’re coming to the end of the season. What has the whole season been like for you to play out the character?
It’s been really fun. There’s been a ton of different things that have come up for Upton and there’s been a lot of growth in the relationship dynamics that she’s had with everybody. Marina and I don’t get to play very often and we had this great scene where she finds out about Ruzek and I. We had this cool conversation where we talk about it. Our bond after that has grown so much. All the different dynamics that have evolved for Hailey this season has been really fun to get to see and to watch. She’s different with everybody and that’s been a ton of fun to get to know.
Do you get to have much say in crafting her?
If I had some ideas that I wanted to throw at them, they’ve always been open to that. They definitely want it to be collaborative if something comes up that. They create a lot of the stories and the things that come forward mainly comes from the showrunners and the writers. It’s just so much fun getting to dive into the things that I have been able to dive into.
Have you wrapped the current season?
We wrapped a week and a half ago. I’m going traveling. I’m going to the Paris convention which the cast have gone to in the past and I can’t wait to do that, and then we’re back.