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The Near-Death Experience That Gave Chicago P.D. Star Jason Beghe His Distinctive Voice

When it comes to grizzled police officers, few TV cops fit the bill quite so well as Sergeant Hank Voight from "Chicago P.D." Most things about the character's writing captures all the right aspects of the cynical loose cannon archetype. Likewise, Voight's actor, Jason Beghe, has all the right qualities to fit the part. He knows how to look tough and act tough, and — perhaps best of all — he has the unforgettably tough-sounding voice to convincingly sell it all. Seriously, only a chain-smoking gargoyle who drinks broken glass for breakfast could possibly match the gravitas in Beghe's voice. 

Clearly, Beghe's voice is pretty much perfect for Voight's character. However, it's also his real-life voice, and what you might not know is that it wasn't always so pleasantly rough. The distinctively gritty sound that we all know so well by now is actually the result of a near-death experience that Beghe had long before the "One Chicago" franchise ever saw the light of day.

Jason Beghe got his voice after a nearly-fatal car accident

To make things clear, Jason Beghe had a naturally deep voice to begin with. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Beghe remarked that puberty had already given his voice a deep, gravelly tone. That natural grumble, however, was exacerbated in 1999 after a near-fatal car accident.

"[I] broke my neck, my back in a couple of places, all of my ribs, both of my lungs," Beghe 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."

The fact that this brush with death would help Beghe play his most famous role years down the line is a silver lining to an otherwise dire situation. However, it comes in handy for more than just playing "bad cop." It also helps him play tough dad. "When I say, 'Hey, it's time to clean up,' they do it," Beghe joked. Beyond the accident giving him the perfect voice for a somewhat crooked cop (and a tough-love dad), though, Beghe also acknowledges how the accident had a very serious effect on his life.

Beghe gained a new perspective from the accident

In another interview done with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2021, Jason Beghe opened up a bit more about how the car accident affected him psychologically. Needless to say, sustaining such devastating injuries — much less going into a coma, and being on the brink of death in a very real way — had a deep influence on his future life direction, choices, and outlook in general.

"Technically, I did die for a short period of time when I was in the coma. That was definitely an experience that profoundly informed my perception of what life is," Beghe told the Post-Gazette. "Twenty years later, it's not something I think about very often. But as you bring it up to me, I do believe that I've probably permanently changed since then."

Beghe never truly specifies the exact way that the accident changed his perspective. However, it seems that he has reaped the benefits of a bad experience as best he could. At the very least, it helps to keep his kids in line when their room gets too messy.