‘Chicago P.D.’ Star Marina Squerciati Auditioned For a Role After Passing Out From Spinal Tap Pain 

Real-life members of the Chicago Police Department must be tough and quick-thinking to help keep their communities safe. When art imitates life to some real degree, it gives the artist some perspective on their work.

That’s what happened when Chicago P.D. star Marina Squerciati auditioned for a role after enduring a serious illness that required hospitalization. And her illness wasn’t even the worst part of what occurred.

'Chicago P.D.' actor Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess
Marina Squerciati as Kim Burgess | Lori Allen/NBC/Getty Images

A hospital visit in college turned painful for ‘Chicago P.D.’ star Marina Squerciati

Before landing her role as Kim Burgess on Chicago P.D., the now 38-year-old actor attended Northwestern University as a theater student. On the day of a huge audition that would send the top theater students to New York City and, more importantly, get signed with an agent, Squerciati was in the hospital with a serious illness, according to Cinema Blend

“They pick the top four female and four male actors to take them to New York, audition for agents, and basically sort of set you up on this platform. And [the audition] was that day that I was released from the hospital.”

The aspiring actor was in the hospital with pneumonia in both lungs. Doctors feared she had meningitis, which meant having a spinal tap. Unfortunately, the intern botched the procedure. Squerciati said it felt like a “battering ram” on her spine.

But the show must go on

Squerciati’s mother flew in because her condition was serious. She helped her daughter leave the hospital upon discharge, so Squerciati could make the audition later that day. But the pain from the spinal tap was too much and the budding actor passed out. Enter Supermom!

“I couldn’t get my head up. I didn’t truly pass out from the pain, but it was almost unbearable. So we got this tray and she put my head on this tray, and we went. She’s holding my head on a tray.”

Squerciati made the audition, said her lines, and she got an agent from the monologue she delivered.

Marina Squerciati has built an impressive career in TV

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Before she was cast in her breakout role as Kim Burgess, Squerciati had one-off parts in several dramas in a similar vein. She acted in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Good Wife, and Blue Bloods before landing a recurring role as Alessandra Steele on The CW staple Gossip Girl.

Movies on Squerciati’s resume include minor roles in It’s Complicated, Frances Ha, Sparks, and A Walk Among the Tombstones. But she’s most known for playing Kim Burgess on the Intelligence Unit of Chicago P.D.

Her painful time in the hospital 20 years ago would serve as a way to leverage her inner emotions as she acts. She needed some of those emotions for some of the heavy, life-changing events that Kim Burgess has endured on the show over the past 10 years.