Two of TV’s toughest cops will team up — and face off — during a three-show November sweeps crossover starting Tuesday night on NBC.
Brutish “Chicago PD” detective Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and by-the-book “Law & Order: SVU” sergeant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) will join forces to bring down a child pornography ring.
“They both immediately recognize that the other person is a formidable personality,” says “PD” and “Fire” executive producer Matt Olmstead. “They can stand up to each other without worrying that the other person’s going to get their feelings hurt or is gonna curl up in the fetal position.”
“SVU” executive producer Warren Leight tells The Post the matchup is crossover gold.
“I love the idea of Mariska — of Olivia — in Chicago. I remember when I was a kid the Justice League of America comic books where all the superheroes would get together,” Leight says. “You wanted to see Superman and Batman team up.”
The case begins on “Chicago Fire” at 10 p.m. Tuesday when a blaze leads to the discovery of a child pornography ring, which brings “PD” detectives Hank Voight and Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) to that show.
The detectives uncover a New York connection, and the investigation continues at 9 p.m. Wednesday on “Law & Order: SVU,” when Voight, Lindsay and Det. Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) travel to Benson’s special victims unit in NYC.
Benson, Det. Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Det. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) then journey to Chicago for the plot’s conclusion at 10 p.m. Wednesday on “PD.”
A key “SVU” scene has Voight barging into that show’s interrogation room, where Leight says Voight “gets a little chesty” with a suspect — as he often does on “PD.” It leads to a heated confrontation between Voight and Benson.
“I’m trying to turn their interrogation room into the ‘cage,’” Beghe tells The Post, referencing the dank chain link enclosure on “PD” (where Voight and others beat criminals to extract information). “I think a lot this crossover is taking a look at the question of what’s the right thing to do.”
Crossovers aren’t unusual, especially for Dick Wolf, creator of the “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire/PD” franchises. “PD” is a spinoff of “Fire” and the shows have cross-pollinated several times.
But a “PD”-SVU” arc is trickier. While both shows are police procedurals, their tones couldn’t be farther apart, Beghe says.
“We’re more likely to pull a gun, shoot a guy, kick a guy’s ass, get our hands dirty,” Beghe explains. “‘SVU’ is more the cerebral side of police work.”
The show runners say it’s important to recognize those differences in order to maintain each show’s continuity and their characters’ integrity.
“We entrusted our characters to ‘SVU’ and Warren, and he did the same to us,” Olmstead adds. “We knew that, of course, there could be inconsistencies and things we then had to feather through.”
Warren mentions two initial crossover plot points — both now cut — that raised concerns for him.
He says the “PD” writers originally wanted Rollins to “hook up” with one of the detectives on that show, despite the fact that she is dating Pino’s Amaro on “SVU.” The script also called for Amaro to shoot someone in Chicago — which would be a problem since he’s still dealing with repercussions from shooting an unarmed teen on “SVU” last season.
“I was, like, ‘He can’t shoot anyone and she can’t sleep with anyone,’” he says, adding with a laugh, “I felt like a dad!”
The actors still got to mix things up, though.
Pino says he had a blast doing action scenes while he was filming in Chicago for five days last month.
“It’s fun to live and swim in those waters that are opposite to what we normally do,” says Pino, whose brother is a homicide detective in Miami. “The first day in Chicago was a chase sequence — jumping over fences, a barricade, a roof. It was like being shot out of a cannon.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Beghe jokes that he felt a twinge of jealousy visiting the “SVU” set at Chelsea Piers, on the Hudson River.
“Goddammit, Benson has a much nicer office and a better view than I do!” he says.
But filming also carried an emotional punch when the “PD” script called for a Chicago officer to die in the line of duty. A large funeral scene brought the “PD” and “SVU” casts together with about 150 real-life Chicago cops as extras.
“There were a lot of tears. It was a really moving experience,” Beghe says. “I hope at least a fraction of it is translated onto the screen.”