'Chicago P.D.'s' Jon Seda on Making the Full-Time Leap to 'Justice': "It's Unchartered Waters"

The actor also discusses how Antonio's "intriguing" new romance with 'Chicago Fire's' Brett and "family issues" ahead with his sister Gabby.
Matt Dinerstein/NBC

Thanks to the long hours, late nights and sometimes unbearable weather conditions – here's looking at you, Chicago – being a series regular on a broadcast TV drama can be a taxing gig. However, even with three different series on his plate at the moment, actor Jon Seda isn't complaining.

"It's the same character, Antonio, but every time I'm doing something different on the shows and then you get to see a different side," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "That, to me, is just so unique."

The reason for Seda's jam-packed dance card? The veteran actor is getting ready to transition full-time from Chicago P.D. to Chicago Justice when the legal spinoff launches sometime midseason. With Justice production already in full swing, Seda is filming both shows until his onscreen exit in the eighth episode of P.D.'s current fourth season. On top of that, Antonio is about to kick-start a romance on flagship series Chicago Fire with his sister's friend and co-worker Brett (Kara Killmer), when Fire returns for season five on Oct. 11.

Days after news of Antonio's forthcoming move broke, and with the sparks about to fly on Fire, The Hollywood Reporter jumped on phone with Seda to get the details on what's to come.

When and how did the conversations first come about for you to switch over to justice? How was it pitched to you?

[Executive producer] Dick Wolf came to me and said he had this incredible idea to move Antonio from P.D. toJustice. It would be a natural track for him and a great way to just bring a familiar face and a popular character to Chicago Justice. … I'm a team player and I'm just glad to be part of this unique, unprecedented situation that's happening here, so after some thought, and we talked about it, and it just really made sense, and it's exciting.

You're going from an established hit series that's in its fourth season to a new series. Did that give you any hesitation?

Oh, absolutely. It's unchartered waters. It's something that has really never been done before, so yeah, there are those questions but I was quickly, quickly assured and I think Dick Wolf's been doing this for awhile so I trust him. (Laughs.) Again, right now, I'm currently working on three shows at the same time. I'm doing Chicago Fire and P.D. and Justice, so it's unprecedented – this is TV history we're making here. So that part of that is pretty incredible.

How has it been keeping track of your storylines on the different shows because obviously Justice is not going to launch until midseason? What's the trick to juggling these three shows?

It's tough, just looking at all the e-mails I get and I have to really look and go, 'Wait a minute, is that C.P.D. or C.J. or C.F.?' And if I'm not on the show, that means I'm working on this one and getting all those scripts in my head... But I gotta tell you, what's so amazing about it is, it's the same character, Antonio, jumping between the shows, but I get to do something different on each show. So it really is a lot of fun, and it's incredible. But it is a little hard. When I'm shooting some scenes on Justice – that's the future. Then when I go back and I'm working on P.D. – that's the past. So it's trying to work both worlds.

Well, how would you specifically say it's different being for Antonio on Justice compared to P.D.?

Well, it's a different position so I think, like anything, it's different in that regard. There might be a different look, but you know Antonio came from Vice originally and that was a totally different type of job, so now he's going from Intelligence to being a lead investigator for the State's Attorney. He's still a cop, he still has a badge, cuffs and a gun, it's just now that his badge says 'Chief Investigator.' It's in a different office, it's a different flow. It's moving from one team to another team and they just maybe have more speed or this or that, and you have to adjust to that. It's different in that regard.

And I imagine different kinds of cases too.

Different kind of cases, and it's a different perspective because you have the courtroom and how all this information is gathered and how these cases come to fruition. It's a smaller cast so there's more of an intimate setting.

Antonio will be working alongside Joelle carter's character a lot. What can you say about that dynamic so far?

Antonio hasn't had a partner for a long time. He had one partner going way back to the first season of P.D., that was played by Melissa Sagemiller and that was Julia Willhite. That was his longtime partner and she was tragically killed and since then, he's never had a partner. So to be partnering up with Joelle Carter, who is incredible – all around, she's really versatile and the character she plays, Nagle, she's really pretty, she's tough, she's smart and can easily go toe-to-toe with Antonio and anyone else. So I think its an interesting dynamic and one that I think the fans are going to like.

Antonio had such an interesting dynamic with Voight, seeing as they were both introduced on the first season of Chicago Fire and then having worked together on Intelligence. Voight is not to most traditional cop so what do you think he'll take away from that working partnership?

I think that Antonio takes that experience with him and I think that what's attractive about him, to be a lead investigator, because he has so much experience coming from Vice, coming from Intelligence and experiencing all that he did. And Antonio, he's a by-the-book kind of guy and he tries to do things without having to break without his convictions as much as he can. Having that experience with Voight, it's helped him become stronger and see things from different points of view and it's just going to help him going further.

You mentioned that the Justice cast is a little smaller compared to P.D. Have there been things you wanted to see for Antonio on P.D. that you didn't get to? Or anything you're hoping to see now that you're getting ready to make this move?

Honestly, I never really gave that that much thought because I trust the writers and the producers. We have such a great group of producers on all the shows, and writers. I look at my job as an actor, I take what's taken given to me if it's one scene, if it's a great storyline, if it's two scenes or even if we're not saying something, I'm saying something. So for me, I always like to be surprised, and see what's coming and try to make it work. So this move, like I had said, this is Dick Wolf's idea and NBC, and I'm thankful and honored to have the opportunity. One thing you always get for me is 100 percent. I think Antonio's moving into a new world, he's stepping up, this is, I guess call it a move into an upwards position for him, so with that comes new experiences.

Obviously you've worked with Derek Haas, Michael Brandt and Matt Olmstead on Fire and P.D., but now you're working with new writers and a new showrunner in Michael S. Chernuchin. What have those conversations been like to make sure Antonio stays Antonio even in a new environment?

You mentioned Michael Chernuchin and the guy – talk about experience – I worked with him back on the original crossover, the first crossover we ever did with Law & Order and Homicide ["For God and Country"]. He's just so intelligent, so smart and like I said, there's not much for me to have to mention. But he sat with me and wanted to make sure he had the backstory of Antonio, where he came from, what's important to him and I give them as much information as I can and let them go to work and let them go to town on it. I just take what they give me and try to make it work. I think for the fans who have been following Antonio, I'm sure there is an expectation as to who he is and what they might expect from Antonio. But there's also going to be the new fans that are going to be coming on for the first time. I trust them, I know they know what they're doing and if there's ever something that's so far-fetched or so off, we'll have conversations about it but outside of that, it's exciting to see what they're going to be coming up with.

Earlier you brought up Fire, on which Antonio has a romance with Brett. What has it been like exploring that side of Antonio and exploring that dynamic?

I think it's pretty cool because it's maybe not the typical two people you would maybe expect it – for the fans at least – to get together, and I think that's what's intriguing about it because that happens in life. Two people that you'd never have thought that they'd be the ones to get together end up getting together. Antonio, it's like it's an easy decision for him, there's a lot of things that come to play. He's dealing with his ex-wife and he's a single parent and there's going to be a lot of stuff brought up about him and his family, and that's definitely going to factor in. And with her, she's someone that has had her heart broken and she's looking for some stability and someone who is [serious]. So it's something that's going to be interesting to see how it grows and where it goes and to see my sister, Gaby, having to be in the middle of that is going to be interesting and there's going to be some awkward moments. But I'm having fun seeing where it's going and to be working with Kara is great and it's just another great storyline to connect all the shows.

The producers have also said that they're going to be introducing Antonio and Gabby's parents on Fire this season so what can you tease about that?

There's going to be some family issues, I'll leave it at that.

What do you think is the biggest thing you've taken away from seeing Antonio in this relationship and from seeing more of his family?

I think the fans will learn even more about Antonio, and about Gabby. They're emotional characters; when it comes to family, they don't play around with that. Their family values are really strong so when there are some issues that come up, it's going to affect them pretty good.

Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. Chicago Justice premieres midseason.

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