Chicago PD: Why does Jason Beghe have a raspy voice?

CHICAGO P.D. -- "In The Dark" Episode 904 -- Pictured: Jason Beghe as Hank Voight -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "In The Dark" Episode 904 -- Pictured: Jason Beghe as Hank Voight -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC) /

Nobody intimidates like Hank Voight. The Chicago PD mainstay manages to scare most everyone he encounters, whether it be through his determination or his willingness to cut corners to ensure justice is served.

Then there’s the voice. Voight’s raspy delivery is instantly recognizable, and this is all due to the distinct speaking voice of the actor who plays him: Jason Beghe. It’s a perfect marriage of writing and delivery, but some may not know that Beghe didn’t always have his raspy delivery.

Why does Hank Voight have a raspy voice?

Beghe, who’s been acting since 1985, has a relatively common speaking voice for the first  part of his career. It was deep, sure, but it didn’t have any distinguishing qualities that would have set him apart from other actors in his age range.

For reference, here a Beghe’s scene from a 1994 episode of Melrose Place:

Pretty standard, right? Well, all that changed when Beghe was involved in a car accident in 1999. The actor suffered major injuries as a result, including a broken neck, broken ribs, and damage to both his lungs and back. He was in a coma for three and a half weeks, and when he came to, he was attached to several different life support devices.

In a moment of confusion, Beghe tried to pull out the tube that was connected to his neck, and in doing so, he caused permanent damage to his vocal cords. “I would pull the tube out and it made it even more f***** up”, he later told the Daily Beast.

While permanent vocal damage would spell doom for most other actors, the injury did little to slow Beghe down. In fact, it helped distinguish him from the pack. When it came time to cast the part of a crooked cop who could frighten perps and peers alike, Chicago PD showrunners couldn’t help but be won over by the actor’s commanding voice. They obviously made the right call.

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