The Chicago Code’s Jennifer Beals: Superwoman Hasn’t Come to Chicago
On the other end of the phone, Jennifer Beals is reading a Carl Sandburg poem titled “Chicago.” Scratch that – she’s performing it.
The poem celebrates Chicago’s blue-collar work ethic as what trumps portrayals of the city as a corrupt, dangerous place to live. It’s the best way for Beals, a Windy City native and star of Fox’s The Chicago Code, to explain how she – and her character, Police Superintendent Teresa Colvin – feel about the place they call home.
“I have such a fierce love for my hometown and always have,” Beals tells TVGuide. com. “The Sandburg poem is really helpful in understanding Chicago. It still holds true. That is Chicago, except for now there are amazing skyscrapers amidst it all.
“There is still that sort of fierce pride and that fierce love is reflected in a code of behavior,” she continues. “People are very, very proud of their city despite the fact that there’s corruption.”
That corruption is exactly what Teresa, the first female police superintendent in the city’s history, is trying to squash. But before she can take down dirty politicians of The Chicago Code world, like Alderman Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo), who is keeping the city under his thumb, Teresa has to find a way to lead the predominantly male police force.
“She’s trying to understand what that leadership looks like,” Beals says. “I think that she’s definitely given over her entire life to this job, for better or for worse, and it’s really interesting playing somebody who’s struggling to create the template. There are times when she struggles with her leadership style. One moment, she’s pretty authoritarian and isn’t really sharing information, and there are other moments where she wants to be inclusive,
but to do so might be perceived as being weak or incompetent. She really wants those men and women to be safe. And she knows that she can’t really attack the bigger picture without having her own backyard in order.”
Beals’ hardened portrayal of Teresa Colvin is a far cry from the 47-year-old actress’ star-making turn as the off-the-shoulder-sweatshirt-wearing lead in Flashdance or her role on Showtime’s The L Word. In Monday’s episode Teresa’s toughness will be on full display, as her cat-and-mouse game with Gibbons reaches a whole new level. While Gibbons proves just how powerful and manipulative he can be, Beals says Teresa proves she won’t be deterred by the shifts in momentum.
“It jockeys back and forth,” Beals says. “Alderman Gibbons is such an expert at it that Teresa’s at the losing end quite a bit because she’s not as astute as he is yet. She’s obviously got game, but she doesn’t have the kind of experience nor the contacts that he has. So it’s really a David-and – Goliath situation. But she’s not going to give up. The real struggle too is: How do you fight the corruptor without yourself becoming corrupt?”
Assisting Teresa in her mission is her former partner, Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke). But his history with and loyalty to the new boss literally puts him under fire with his fellow officers in Monday’s episode. But is there more to that relationship?
“They have a very profound, deep relationship with one another that is really based on respect and a mutual regard for one another,” Beals says. “So often the base of a romantic relationship will be those very things of respect and admiration for someone, but for them, it’s different. There’s that energy that goes between them that’s very palpable.