What Chicago P.D. Fans Don’t Know About Jason Beghe
Even in the “One Chicago” universe, any police institution worth its salt needs a gruff, older chief-type character, and it’s hard to get more gruff than Jason Beghe’s Detective Sergeant Hank Voight. The “Chicago P.D.” leader of the titular department’s Intelligence Unit starts out as a seemingly corrupt antagonist in “Chicago Fire,” and interestingly for a main character in a police procedural, he retains his rough edges and willingness to veer toward the shady side of things in “Chicago P.D.,” as well. However, he generally manages to keep his head above water despite his various shenanigans … and, more importantly, he has more than enough redeeming qualities to make up for his unsavory actions.
Thanks to his lengthy tenure as Voight, Beghe has become one of the most familiar faces in the “One Chicago” franchise. Still, because said face is usually associated with one of the more compelling police procedural characters around, people might not be quite as familiar with the person behind the role as they think. Here’s a few things “Chicago P.D.” fans might not know about Jason Beghe.
There's a story behind that voice
Hank Voight’s sounds like he gargles gravel before breakfast, which suits the character’s unpolished nature perfectly. That voice is not all acting on Jason Beghe’s part, though, and the story behind it is exactly as strange as you could ever hope — and a good touch more tragic than you might guess (per Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
Beghe’s peculiar voice is the end product of a nasty car accident in 1999. According to the actor, the accident was so bad that it went a touch further than being “just” a near-death experience. “Technically, I did die for a short period of time when I was in the coma,” he said. “That was definitely an experience that profoundly informed my perception of what life is.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Beghe elaborated on his terrifying injuries, and revealed that while his voice was already somewhat harsh before, an intubation tube put the finishing touches to his famous sound. “I was in a very serious car accident in ’99 — broke my neck, my back in a couple of places, all of my ribs, both of my lungs,” the actor said. “I was in a coma for three and a half weeks. When I would come out of the coma, since I was intubated from being on life support, I would pull the tube out and it made it even more f***** up.”
Jason Beghe almost skipped his iconic role
It’s difficult to imagine the “One Chicago” franchise without its most iconic disgruntled police officer, but according to Jason Beghe, he almost ended up passing on the role of Hank Voight when the characters was set to debut in “Chicago Fire.” In an interview with the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, the actor revealed that the crucial “One Chicago” character could have been played by someone else, because he was in a pretty bad personal place at the time he was offered the role.
“When I got the script and the offer to do a recurring role on ‘Chicago Fire’, I was in the middle of a lot of personal stuff,” Beghe said. “Both my parents had just died, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to accept the job. But I ultimately decided to do it.”
The decision couldn’t have been an easy one, though in hindsight, Beghe certainly considers taking the role the right choice. “Interestingly, I left to shoot my first day on ‘Chicago Fire’ from my father’s funeral in Washington D.C.,” he said. “The many ways in which that decision has changed my life could fill a book. Suffice it to say, I’m happy I made that choice.”
His ties with Chicago run deeper than you think
Since he’s one of the most prominent faces in the “One Chicago” franchise, the connection between Jason Beghe and the Windy City is pretty easy to draw. If you dig deeper, though, you might find out that he’s just the latest member of his family to form lasting ties with the city of Chicago.
Per The Washington Post, Beghe’s father was Renato W. Beghe, who was born in Chicago, and studied there before eventually relocating to Washington and becoming a high-profile Tax Court Judge. According to The Chicago Tribune, his mother also studied at the University of Chicago, and his brother lived in the city. “So it’s kind of a full circle,” he said about his role in the “One Chicago” franchise in 2014. “It seemed something almost destined in a way. I don’t put a lot of significance on symbolism or anything like that, but it seems pretty damn coincidental. And I know my parents would be very pleased and proud.”
In fact, Beghe’s connections with Chicago go even further than his immediate family. The actor’s musician grandfather played with the Chicago Symphony, and his great-grandfather worked as a District Attorney in the city … and spent two terms as the Governor of Illinois.
Jason Beghe and Scientology
Jason Beghe spent over a decade as a scientologist, but as the actor himself told Rolling Stone in 2015, he left the movement in 2007 after growing disillusioned with it. This, he says, led to years of conflict with Scientology, as the actor became a rather outspoken critic of the organization, to the point of making a lengthy YouTube video about the subject, appearing in the Scientology-themed documentary “Going Clear,” and giving interviews in which he had some very sharp words about the church.
Beghe says that he ultimately grew unsatisfied with Scientology after he started seeking out ways to become a good father. After he decided that finding out a way to become super-wealthy wouldn’t be the best move — ” I knew rich people growing up and their kids were unhappy,” he said — the actor started looking for other avenues.
“I figured out the best thing I could be was myself, so I did a fearless inventory of all the bulls*** in my life,” Beghe said. “At that point, I realized that Scientology wasn’t me. The next day I walked in and said, ‘I gotta get out of here. I can’t maintain my own integrity and remain a member of this organization. It’s possible to have an amicable divorce, and I think it’s in both of our best interests we part ways.'”
He's good friends with David Duchovny
Jason Beghe’s “Chicago P.D.” character might have plenty of reasons to view federal authorities with some suspicion, but behind the scenes, the actor’s actually great friends with a man known for playing one of the most prominent FBI agent in all of fiction. According to Today, Beghe and David Duchovny — best known for his role as Agent Fox Mulder in “The X-Files” – have been friends for a long time, and even worked together when Beghe appeared on Duchovny’s hit show “Californication” as a recurring character called Richard Bates.
Though the two actors have been close for years, they temporarily grew apart during Beghe’s time with Scientology. However, as Beghe told The Daily Beast, the pair was able to reconnect quite easily after he severed his ties with the organization. “Scientology affected our relationship in that we didn’t get to enjoy each other as much as we could have,” said Beghe. “But after having gone through that, our reunion was that much better.”