Interview with Christopher Meloni of “Law & Order: Organized Crime” on NBC by Suzanne 9/13/21
We had a chat via Zoom with NBC stars for the TCA panels. This particular panel was supposed to feature Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson) as well as Christopher Meloni (Elliot Stabler), but she was held up due to a change in her shooting schedule. That was a real shame because we would have all loved to see her with him. He didn’t seem as if he was in a great mood, but he gave each question serious thought and consideration.
If you’re reading this, you probably know already that he played the same character on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for 11 years. He left at the end of season 11 because of a contract dispute. Last April he returned to SVU and then premiered this new show, OC, but with plenty of crossover between the two shows (especially with Hargitay).
I asked him the question that everyone wants to know… I knew that he probably couldn’t answer it, but I was interested in how he would handle the question, either way. I said, “I’m on a lot of “Law & Order” Facebook groups, and most of them seem to want your characters to have a real love affair. Should they stay hopeful on that score? Anything you can tell us. I know you can’t give spoilers.” He replied, “Sure. Hope springs eternal. I mean, why not? I think it’s going to be a collaborative effort between both showrunners for “SVU” and “OC,” and I believe, with Mariska and I, to kind of figure it all out. It’s a complicated relationship. So, we’ll see.” That was actually a lot more positive answer than I expected. It was very diplomatic, for sure.
Here are more questions from the panel. This was the next question: Elliot goes undercover this season, so he was asked whether this would affect his relationship with his former partner, Benson (Hargitay), since they were close last season. He mentioned that he had spoken to real-life undercover cops, and they had confirmed that they do tend to lose themselves in their jobs. He thinks Elliot is doing that, as well as still dealing with the stress of losing his wife and all that he went through last season, and not sure how Benson fits into his life (both personally and professionally). Benson sees that he might be going through all this. He and Benson do engage with each other professional quite a bit, and ” and a little bit from the personal side.”
He was also asked whether he’d learned anything about himself from his years of playing Elliot. He responded, “I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s been a wonderful journey. I think because, you know, to play this character for as long as I have, or I guess any character, but I always thought of him as a man under pressure, and has maybe examined how I engage the world, how I deal with personal relationships, how maybe certain blind spots that I have, and I’ve had to work on. You know, you really do grow with the character. Because as you mature as a human being, I think you bring those lessons to bear to your character. So, you know, you march hand—in—hand with the thing that you’ve created. And it’s been very rewarding. So, I’ve learned more than I could speak of in this short of time.”
Someone else asked why Dick Wolf decided (possibly in collaboration with him or other writers) to put Elliot in Organized Crime rather than in other possibly detective groups. He asserted that it was Wolf’s idea from the beginning. He feels that it was because there was so much rich storytelling that could be told about the crime families and how they work, and that one crime family investigation would fit well into an 8-episode format. He was also asked whether there might be a possibility of any mention of his cop character in Syfy’s “Happy,” but he didn’t think they would do that because they were in two different universes. He compared it to having a crossover between “Grey’s Anatomy” and a Marvel Universe show.
Another person from the press asked him about “the most emotional and challenging story lines to play on a personal level, something that was difficult” for him to play. He gave an interesting answer, “Well, you know, anytime I’ve had to deal with children and traumas inflicted upon children, those are always — those always strike a very deep chord. I’ve always found those very difficult, but oddly enough, kind of the easiest to play, because there’s no searching for the emotional content within myself. You know, I know exactly how I feel. I’m very — there’s such clarity in my place in this world when children are involved.”
I’m sure he’s been asked this question many times: whether he ever had the itch to go back and play Stabler after he left SVU back in 2011. He asserted that he never looked back. Once he was done, that was it. He enjoyed acting in other projects and traveling. He added, “I think to Dick’s credit, he — I don’t know — maybe he sensed I wasn’t as interested in revisiting how, you know, the “SVU” tells a story, which is great, and they do it so wonderfully. So, when he pitched this more serialized expression of his latest idea of a “Law & Order” show, the “OC,” I really thought it was kind of a stroke of genius. I didn’t think that was even kind of anything he was thinking about. So, I was pleasantly pleased and surprised and excited when I got the pitch. And it was just on the basis of the type of storytelling that the “OC” allows us. And I just think it just allows for a little more in—depth analysis of characters and relationships and that kind of stuff. So, I appreciated that. And I think with Ilene Chaiken running the show, it’s really lived up to what Dick had hoped for.”
He was asked if he’d ever binge-watched “Law & Order” SVU,” but he admitted that he never had. He was there when it was filmed, and that was enough. The same journalist also asked him if he would tell us about the “four new recurring characters” on the second season. He seemed taken aback by that question. He named three – “Dash Mihok, Vinnie Jones, Lolita Davidovich and Michael Raymond-James.” He said that some of the cast are part of their task force and some are from the new crime family they’ll be going after. He elaborated, “We’re dealing with an Albanian crime family. You get to see a little bit of the hierarchy. It’s very much a family organization. And there’s a kind of Shakespearean intrigue that surrounds it.” That sounds interesting!
Since he mentioned leaving SVU earlier, he was asked about Mariska, “What has been the greatest joy of working with her? What
qualities does she have that has made the journey a real joy for you? And what have been some of the challenges?” He gave a very long answer. Basically, he said that they were two strong personalities that worked well together. The characters were, “finding each
other’s dance steps. And I would argue we found those dance steps 80 percent of the time, but 20 percent of the time we didn’t. And, you know, that’s where — I don’t know — just stuff happens. And it can be creatively wonderful stuff, and it can be challenging stuff. And it’s just stuff. Because at the end of the day, I think we see each other and know each other at our cores, and we love and honor and respect each other’s gifts. We have forgiven each other’s trespasses.” He said that they grew up together on the show . They both built their own separate families at the same time and both had each other’s best interests at heart. He was quite effusive in his praise of her: “She’s open and honest and trustworthy and a ball of light. She radiates a goodness and a warmth and an inclusiveness. You know, she’s just a wonderful energy to be around. And she’s a hard worker. ” He praised her for how she carried on after he left the show.” They like working together and look forward to it. He never really answered the question about any challenges.
Next he was asked whether any parts of Elliot had rubbed off on him, or vice versa. He didn’t think so. He compared Elliot to himself, saying that Elliot was both more flawed and more heroic than he. He went on, “I think we both strive for the same sense of justice that, you know — I mean, I think this is life, right? And it’s difficult if you have a sense of right and wrong, and the world makes it difficult for one who has a sense of honor and justice, and you see reality is at times difficult in that regard. So, I would like to — I would strive to be as honorable as Elliott is, as flawed as he is. But no. We both have the same kind of walk, and that’s about it, I think.”
He was asked whether he thought all of the spinoffs were a good thing or not. He thinks that they’re both good and bad as it’s part of their business. It’s expensive to “It’s expensive to launch a show, very expensive to maintain a show, and very expensive to get eyeballs to the show, to your product. So, I just kind of think those pressures lend itself to that kind of programming.” He thinks the audience doesn’t mind as long as the product is a good one.
He was also asked why he thinks fans are so crazy about a Benson-Stabler relationship. He thinks that part of the reason is because their parting in 2011 was so abrupt, and they had so much chemistry for years before that. There was never any kind of answer as to the will-they-or-won’t-they question.
Another writer asked how his working with Mariska different this time than it was the first time around. He answered that they were young and didn’t know each other the first time around. It was all new, fresh and exciting. This time, when he returned, it felt both important and comfortable. “And I haven’t examined it beyond that… “I don’t have that relationship with any other actor walking the earth, because I’ve never worked with anyone for as long as I had with Mariska.” They were revisiting their relationship. “all of that in a package of grief, because of the circumstances under which I was reintroduced. So, it was a completely different dynamic, and yet I think the cornerstone of it all was a playfulness, a humor that we just always have with each other, and a camaraderie. Love and camaraderie.”
He was asked a good storyline question about whether Stabler would still be working with the team or whether he’ll be more in charge this season. He responded that Sgt. Bell is definitely still in command, not Elliot. He went on, “I find it a very interesting dynamic. I was surprised by it all, and I loved it. I thought it was a very good idea. Danielle Moné Truitt is wonderful to work with. Yeah. So, yeah. Elliott is more on the outside in the first series of eight from the unit. They’re kind of more of the, you know — they’re HQ to whom I report, and they do the logistical hard work while Elliott tries to get intel and is on the inside.”
The last person pointed out that Meloni is also great at comedy. He asked which he would like to do next, after he leaves OC? He instantly replied without hesitation that it would be comedy. “I’m in one swimming pool and I want to go try the other, see how the other water — how refreshing the other water is.” Well, let’s hope that’s not for a long time…at least not until we see how he and Olivia are able to really connect, finally.
“LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME”
“THE MAN WITH NO IDENTITY”
09/23/2021 (10:00PM – 11:00PM) (Thursday) : SEASON PREMIERE – After taking down Wheatley’s (Dylan McDermott) drug empire and discovering his wife’s killer, Det. Stabler (Christopher Meloni) must infiltrate a notorious crime family aiming to take over New York City’s cocaine trade. Sgt. Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) is forced to work with a rival colleague when their investigations collide. Also starring Ainsley Seiger.
The series stars Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott, Danielle Moné Truitt, Tamara Taylor and Ainsley Seiger.
Dick Wolf, Ilene Chaiken, Fred Berner, Terry Miller, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski serve as executive producers. “Law & Order: Organized Crime” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Wolf Entertainment.
Elliot Stabler, “Law & Order: Organized Crime”
Christopher Meloni returns to his iconic character, Elliot Stabler, in the new NBC drama series “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”
Meloni was last seen starring on the Hulu British comedy “Maxxx.”
Meloni starred in SYFY’s dark comedy “Happy!” based on Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s graphic novel. In addition to his starring role as Nick Sax, he directed an episode as well as executive produced the series. Meloni also co-starred in the third season of the critically acclaimed Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Commander Winslow, a powerful and magnetic commander who hosts the Waterfords on an important trip.
Meloni had a guest arc on the breakout FX series “Pose,” from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. He also appeared in the landmark historical series “Underground,” executive produced by John Legend, and directed an episode.
Following his breakout role on “NYPD Blue,” Meloni was cast in HBO’s gritty prison drama “Oz” and then moved on to “Law & Order: SVU,” where he received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Following his 12 seasons on “SVU,” Meloni returned to HBO in Alan Ball’s wildly popular drama “True Blood” and the Julie Louis-Dreyfus-starrer “Veep.”
On the film side, Meloni’s credits include “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “White Bird in a Blizzard,” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” “Man of Steel,” “42,” “They Came Together,” the Terry Gilliam films “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Twelve Monkeys,” “Bound,” “Runaway Bride,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” and the cult favorites “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and its first sequel, “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”
Proofread and Edited by Brenda