Los Angeles Times, The Envelope Susan King: Contender Q & A
Susan King's Contender Q & A, featuring leading actors, actresses, directors and writers, will appear in The Envelope each Thursday throughout awards season.
August 8, 2006 Christopher Meloni confesses he hadn't been thinking about Emmy nominations this summer.. He didn't even know when the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences were going to be making the nomination announcements.
So the 45-year-old actor says "it was a doubly good, surprising surprise" when he got the news last month he had received his first Emmy nominaton as outstanding actor in a drama series for NBC's "Law & Order: SVU."
Meloni will be returning for his eighth season on the provocative series that explores violent cases of sexual abuse and rape. He plays Detective Elliot Stabler, a centered professional who is married with children. Stabler is partnered with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) who was a child of rape. Because Hargitay is on maternity leave, Stabler is getting a new partner for the first six episodes, a warrant officer played by Connie Nielsen.
The Washington, D.C., native is known as one of the most versatile actors working on both the big and small screens, especially for his complex intense roles such as the manipulative inmate Chris Keller on HBO's controversial series, "Oz."
He also has demonstrated his comedic prowess on the big screen in the raucous 2004 comedy, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," in which he played a balding, boiled-infested tow truck driver named Freakshow.
Susan King: Do you know the episode for which you received the nomination?
Christopher Meloni: I think it was for "Ripped." The criminal aspect of the storyline is that this high school kid is taking steroids to help his baseball game and he is subjected to ''roid rage and attacks a girl and can't remember what transpired. I know his father, who is a cop, so I try to help. The episode kind of evolves into how I am bending my moral standards and am losing my center. I think at least as far as if someone were to sit down and look at the acting part of it, in the third act, it takes place in one office and it's one scene for the whole 12 minutes. It's me going to a psychiatrist played by Mary Stuart Masterson and kind of opening up.
Susan King: Have you ever attended the Emmys before?
Christopher Meloni: Nope. I am a virgin. It is my first time at the dance. My wife said, 'Baby, congratulations.' Beat. Beat. 'I get to go shopping.'
Susan King: When do you start shooting the new season?
Christopher Meloni: The end of September. How that works is our first season was the year we had a threatened writers' strike, so what we did was that instead of doing 22 episodes, we did 30. We put 10 in the bank. We stayed on the schedule because everyone loved it because what it did was instead of getting off from March to June to July, it got us off mid-June to late September.
Susan King: Have you already completed the episodes with Connie Nielsen?
Christopher Meloni: They have been put in the bank.
Susan King: Did she change the dynamic of the show?
Christopher Meloni: It changed it in every way imaginable behind the scenes the way things are run because she has her own thing. She goes at her character in a different way. She was a lot of fun. I loved working with. Her character was a little more tomboyish which was kind of nice because she doesn't have a tomboy face. She plays a warrant officer. That's a different way of approaching the job because you serve the warrant and that's it. In our unit, it's a little bit different. You have to wear a couple of more hats in the special victims unit the confessor, the psychologist and the interrogator.
Susan King: Is it true that the cast works with organizations that deal with people who have been victims of assault and rape?
Christopher Meloni: Yeah. Mariska has her own foundation. She helps with survivors of sexual abuse - they go swimming with wild dolphins. My wife and I are involved in the Montefiore Children's Center. They are out of the Bronx. They are the first hospital to do this. If a person comes into the emergency room and there is a hint or suggestion of sexual abuse or blatantly a rape victim, they have on site rape counselors. They have been able to do some good. I tell you I have had a lot of rape survivors and sexual abuse survivors come up to me and give me a big hug and say 'your show has really helped me profoundly.' I tell you it's the best feeling in the world. It is larger than you.
Susan King: How did you come to play Freakshow in "Harold and Kumar to White Castle"?
Christopher Meloni: My agent called me giggling. He said 'I have an offer. It is four days'. I said, 'it's perfect.' He said,'it's two scenes and the name of your character is Freakshow.' I said, "I am almost sold.' He said, "you get to have prosthetics make up.' I said 'when do I leave?'
"Let me not grope in vain in the dark but keep my mind still in the faith that the day will break and truth will appear in its simplicity." ~~~R. Tagore, Whisperings~~~