Christopher Meloni (‘Law and Order: Organized Crime’) on reprising his role as Detective Elliot Stabler

After 10 years, Emmy nominee Christopher Meloni has returned to the character of Detective Elliot Stabler in the NBC spinoff series “Law and Order: Organized Crime.” He describes the “funny” pitch he received to go back to the franchise as a bit of a “bait and switch.” “As I understood it, it was going to be eight episodes,” he reveals with a laugh. “It was going to be serialized as opposed to individual units. I thought, eight episodes a year? I’m all on board. Then they told me no, it’s going to be 22 episodes a year.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

Although the spinoff maintains some of the same themes as other “Law and Order” series, “Organized Crime” has it’s own unique way of storytelling. “I thought with the serialization, there was a great opportunity for expansion,” Meloni explains when asked about the long-arcing stories told in the eight-episode inaugural season. The number of episodes will nearly triple in Season 2 this fall. “I think that’s going to definitely be a challenge,” he admits. “Thank God we have Ilene Chaiken as a showrunner who is leading the charge. Her job is to break the big rocks. I think she’s a great storyteller. She’s a wonderful leader and collaborator.”

SEE over 350 video interviews with 2021 Emmy contenders

One of the notable guest stars is Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay, who played Elliot’s longtime partner Olivia Benson on “Law and Order: SVU.” Meloni describes their reunion “like slipping into a warm bath.” Hargitay was not surprised to see Meloni reprising his role as Elliot. “I got the impression that the feeling was ‘it’s about time,'” he says. “And I guess it was about time. I would not have said yes if I wasn’t 100 percent committed because I know what 22 episodes takes. It’s really a long haul.”

The villain in Season 1 is played by Emmy nominee Dylan McDermott as Richard Wheatley, the son of a notorious mobster. “It was so much fun,” Meloni describes his working relationship with McDermott. “He and I had quite a few long discussions because we both came out of the same acting technique (Meisner) and we’re of the same years. And I have found that when I work with someone who has done the Meisner technique, there’s a shorthand. It’s that much easier and you share certain instincts. For me it becomes a richer experience.”

Meloni also dives into other topics the series tackles including police brutality, mental health and conversations about race. The actor earned his first Emmy nomination for his role as Elliot Stabler in 2006. He describes attending his first Hollywood awards show as an “overwhelming” experience that he was “ill-prepared” for. “They really know how to throw a party, those Hollywood types.”

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