‘Chicago P.D.’ Star Marina Squerciati Talks New Season, Home Renovation

We love to see a smart, powerful woman who can kick some butt on primetime television. Northwestern University grad Marina Squerciati stars as Officer Kim Burgess on NBC’s “Chicago P.D.,” returning for its fourth season Sept. 21. We talked to Squerciati about the new season, the home renovation she’s currently working on and what it’s like to film in Chicago.

Make It Better: When you signed up for “Chicago P.D,” did you realize you’d be entering this world that now involves three other Chicago shows plus “Law & Order: SVU?”

Marina Squerciati: I was just so excited, I didn’t know what to think. My agent called me and was like “I think your life is about to change.” And he told me I got the role and I was like “Do I leave my day job? What do I do?”

What do you love most about playing Kim Burgess?

I like that she’s not a total badass — she has some flaws, and also some geeky qualities. She’s a well-rounded person — trained, sympathetic and tries to be a good cop but also makes mistakes and tries to do better the next time, much like we all do. She’s not a superhero; she’s a regular person.

What do you think Season 4 has in store for Burgess?

It’s funny. It’s like a schoolyard, we’re all trying to find out gossip about what’s going on. I think I know less than the fans. I learned on Twitter that my showrunner Matt Olmstead said my ex-fiance [Adam Ruzek played by Patrick John Flueger] and I were probably not getting back together. My Twitter exploded. People were not very happy. I had no idea. Fans knew before I did.

So there’s no chance of reconciliation with Ruzek?

Paddy and I text each other all the time and ask “How can we make this happen?” So we’re doing our best. The showrunners say “Never say never,” so we’ll keep our fingers crossed. But I think right now, she’s so busy being a cop. In “Justice,” her relationship with Roman [played by the now departed Brian Geraghty] really got in the way of her career. I do think it’s good that she takes the time. I think the TV audience viewers were probably like “Aww, you need to be single for a little.”

What can you tell us about your new partner, Li Jun Li, who will play Officer Tay?

She’s really awesome, we’ve been hanging out a lot. Colin Donnell’s [who plays Dr. Connor Rhodes] wife, Patti Murin, is starting a book club and we’re both joining. We’re getting along great. We’re hanging out onscreen, offscreen. I like her, she’s a very lovely person.

What’s your favorite episode?

“Justice” when Dick [Wolf] calls me up and said for that episode, he wants to see a side of Burgess that we haven’t seen before. He really cares about the show and he especially cared about that episode. That scene where the kid shoots Roman and I shoot the kid, Dick was out there until 3 in the morning watching it, giving notes, finessing that scene to make it exactly what he wanted. That was something really special — to work with your creator to make something great, I think was really exciting.

Burgess and Sgt. Trudy Platt have great on-screen chemistry and a fun relationship. What’s it like filming those scenes with Amy Morton?

They’re great. She recently had a line and I just kept laughing. Those are really so much fun, especially in a drama to get to have some comedic moments. So awesome. I love working with Amy. She’s a great actress and a great friend. I think it’s magical that I get to do drama and comedy on such a serious show.

What is it like filming in Chicago nine months out of the year (including winter!)?

In summer, I’m always wishing that our polyester uniforms were thinner and in winter wishing they were thicker. Just in a constant state of being unhappy with the thickness of my uniform.

Do you have any projects coming up that we should be on the lookout for?

Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad are doing a movie called “Marshall,” where Boseman plays Thurgood Marshall in his early career as a lawyer who was working as an attorney for the NAACP. And a tragic case where a socialite accuses her chauffeur of rape. It was a big case and he finally won. I filmed in Buffalo on my hiatus. I play Josh Gad’s wife. It was a really special movie and also I got to wear 1940s clothing so that was awesome. One of the things I miss is doing comedy. Brian Geraghty had a stand-in named Patrick Webb and we really got along. So Patrick and I wrote this web series called “The Special Skills Show.” And it features all the people from “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” and is a comedic web series about being an actor in Chicago. It was a really awesome journey and to produce something. I’ve never produced something.

You’ve done some traveling recently, what’s the one spot people should be adding to their vacation plans and why?

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, recently opened borders. It’s an amazing untouched place. It hasn’t seen many tourists so it’s sort of this magical place where nature is untouched. Sadly it’s not the case in a lot of places. It’s almost exactly how it was 100 years ago. I would go to Myanmar in a heartbeat.

We hear you’ve recently bought and are renovating a new West Loop home. Tell us about that process.

It’s horrible. I hope everybody has a friend named Sophia Bush. The woman had to have been a designer in her past life. She’s so good at it and has a passion for it … I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I don’t know what faucets to pick. It’s all very confusing. I don’t know what’s good and what looks terrible. Sophia’s like: “Oh, pick A not B.” The woman knows her stuff.

I have this amazing architect [Searl Lamaster Howe Architects] that I hired and they are helping me because it’s basically a gut renovation, which I thought would be a lot easier. There are permits you need and apparently can’t move every wall. I had no idea it would be so hard.

Are there any philanthropic organizations you are involved with or support?

The Chicago Debate Commission is the local Chicago urban debate league, and it is one of the oldest and biggest urban debate leagues in the country. I’ve seen firsthand how empowering this activity is for young people, particularly girls, and the statistics regarding increased chances to go to college and succeed later in life are astonishing. It’s a great charity that immediately and meaningfully impacts kids in the neighborhoods we often portray on “Chicago P.D.”

You’re in amazing shape and play a very physical role on-screen. Tell us about your diet and fitness routine.

I really love going to the gym because I have a ginormous sweet addiction. I have to keep that in check. I don’t like training lightly, I like to train hard and put all my body into it. I want to lift heavy weights. I want to do what footballers do. I go to Performance Training Systems, which a couple other cast members go to. It’s an amazing training place.

“Chicago P.D.” features a lot of night scenes so you must have to pull a lot of late-nighters. Are there any beauty products you swear by to keep you looking gorgeous during a grueling shooting schedule?

I am not a night person. I find nights very difficult. Apparently on television, most crime happens at night. Unfortunately. I wish it could be 9 a.m. crime. Those are my peak hours. I love the mornings and coffee in the morning.

To clean my face, I always use Cetaphil. I’ve tried pricey face-washes and I always get burned. Not literally, but I end up breaking out. So, I’m a die hard $10 Cetaphil girl. To take makeup off, I use a wipe first, though. I was at Whole Foods recently, they had these wipes for $3.95 called Alba Botanica Hawaiian at the checkout counter. It smells like I’m rubbing pineapple on my face and I like it.

Wearing makeup for 14 hour days when shooting can wreak havoc on my skin so I try and be gentle with it on my off days. I use SkinCeuticals serum, Hydrating B-5 Gel. Overnight I use SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight Dry. For early morning shoots, I use Teamine under my eyes to help brighten. Before events I use a facial scrub of Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb. It smells like I’m rubbing strawberry on my face. I smell a trend. Also, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask — leave on for 30 minutes and glow for days!

You went to Northwestern and you’re working here a good amount of the year now, are there any Chicago or Evanston restaurants or foods you can’t miss?

I’m really excited about Honey’s, which is my friend Andrew Miller‘s new restaurant. I can’t wait to try their handmade pastas. The fried chicken at Roister is amazing, but for the late night, Harold’s, obviously. I was recently at Parachute with the cast and we loved it. The food is so inventive and delicious. For chocolate chip cookies, go to Summer House. But, buy two, because there’s no way you can get home without destroying one.

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