Fans of Chicago P.D. weren’t the only ones upset by Alvin Olinsky’s (Elias Koteas) death during Wednesday’s season 5 finale episode. Following the episode, Jesse Lee Soffer, who portrays Jay Halstead in the NBC drama, took to Instagram to share a photo and touching caption with Koteas.
“Can’t believe it’s been five years working with [Elias Koteas]. What an honor. You’re an artist and a friend,” Soffer captioned the photo on Thursday.
Tracy Spiradakos, who plays Hailey Upton in the NBC drama, also posted two photos of Koteas, simply adding heart emojis in her captions.
Olinski’s shocking death came as a surprise to both fans and the cast of the show, as showrunner Rick Eid said that the last-minute decision was strictly a creative one designed to move along the story line. Eid said that Voight’s (Jason Beghe) actions had to have consequences — which ended up culminating in his best friend being murdered for his crime.
“It was a hard decision because we all really liked it creatively – it just felt like there was honesty to the story telling that we all got excited about – then came the practical reality of ‘Wait, he’s one of our favorite characters and one of our favorite actors and favorite people in real life,’” Eid told Us Weekly. “All that stuff was just really hard. I think we finally all got on the same page and said, ‘Wow we’re really gonna do this,’ probably a week before we started shooting that episode. It was truly just one of those things that just evolved from storytelling and at the end of 20 ‘What If’s,’ everybody kept coming back to this idea of how this would impact Voight.”
Just because it was right for the story line doesn’t mean that Eid savored breaking the news to Koteas or the rest of the cast.
“It’s brutal because Elias is a great guy and a terrific actor. That part is just horrible,” Eid said. “Everybody really liked both Elias and Olinsky. So it was very emotional for everybody. He’s a big part of the show … It was a hard thing. The real life part of it is very hard.”
As far as the way the show delivered the news of Olinsky’s death to Voight, Eid reveals the decision was made by Koteas.
“When we talked about everything, he was really protective of his character and wanted me to be protective of his character and death and how he went out. He said that Olinsky wasn’t a sentimental character, he didn’t want his death to be overly sentimental in the show…” Eid said. “He’s a man from the streets, kind of, and his character lived that way and died that way. It felt real, it felt honest. People don’t always die the way you want them to at the time you want them to. You don’t always get these moments of goodbyes. That felt like Alvin Olinsky.”
Chicago P.D. was renewed for a sixth season and expected to return in fall 2018.