Alvin Olinsky is gone, but he will never be forgotten. His presence was clearly felt in the season 6 premiere of Chicago P.D. The team is still reeling from his shocking and sudden death. Voight manages to get a letter of exoneration for Olinsky in exchange for being a “friend” to the new Deputy Superintendent Katherine Brennan. Olinsky is given a proper funeral, with Atwater, Ruzek, Burgess, Upton, Antonio, and Halstead serving as pallbearers.
Voight watches from afar. Trudy has to break the news that Meredith doesn’t want Voight at the funeral in the wake of what’s happened. Voight is able to say goodbye to his friend in his own way, complete with a final salute. HollywoodLife spoke with the cast and showrunner Rick Eid EXCLUSIVELY at One Chicago Day about what it was like saying goodbye to Olinsky, and in a sense Elias Koteas, in that emotionally-charged moment.
Jason Beghe (Voight): “If I can speak for myself, it was a loss for Jason to lose Elias. As I was driving to set I heard from Elias. I said ‘Bro, I’m going to your funeral.’ It was sad, and it’s a real loss that we’re dealing with personally and as characters.
LaRoyce Hawkins (Atwater): “We really respected the vibe of that moment. I think that’s what makes that scene pop because in real life we lost a friend, not just a partner in Olinsky, but in Elias Koteas. We just really tapped into how it will really feel to move forward. In the same way that I like to think it happens in life, it happened for us. If the emotion was palpable in those moments it was because we really miss Olinsky.”
Rick Eid (Showrunner): “I mean, he was such a huge part of the show. It ended so abruptly in the finale, and it was a very unsentimental sendoff for an important character, which was all intentional and deliberate. Elias, the actor himself, told me when we were discussing all this. ‘Just promise me one thing, that you won’t give me some sentimental bullsh*t sendoff.’ So we tried to be honest to the character. I feel like this season the audience and actors needed this closure, an emotional moment because Elias himself and Olinsky was such a big part of everything.”
Marina Squerciati (Burgess): “You’re also giving the actor a sendoff. He was an incredibly loving beacon on our show, and I miss that.”
Tracy Spiridakos (Upton): “I mean, he’s such an iconic character, so I’m really glad that we got to do that. That whole scene at the end, I think all of us were having a hard time not crying throughout it. I know I welled up a bunch of times.”
Jesse Lee Soffer (Halstead): “It was one of those interesting things for us as actors, letting the character go. Also, because he was someone who was a family member to us. It’s going to be a weird time with the beginning of season 6 putting all the pieces back together.”
Patrick John Flueger (Ruzek): “We’ve had characters come and go from the show before, but we’ve never really buttoned it up in such a nice way. It sounds stupid, but it was therapeutic. Elias was this quiet, soulful sweetheart of a man. He’s dearly missed. It was a nice way to put his character to bed.”
As for how the loss of Olinsky will impact the team going forward, it’s going to vary from character to character. “I think it manifests itself in different ways,” Marina told HollywoodLife. “Everyone deals with grief differently.” Amy Morton, who plays Trudy, added: “They’re really showing that this season.”
As for Atwater, he’ll be pondering his own life choices. “I know for a fact that it’s making Atwater think about the consequences of his actions of heroics. It’s not easy to be a cop, especially a black cop in Chicago,” LaRoyce revealed to HollywoodLife. “I think when you lose friends, and you think about your own life, it’s not hard for the lines between the black and blue to get a little blurry. That’s what Atwater is going through right now, trying to find where his loyalties really lie.” Chicago P.D. airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.