Looking Back After 400 Episodes of ‘SVU’: The Best Guest Stars

Anna Chlumsky – S14, episode 98: “Twenty-Five Acts” (2012) (‘My Girl,’ ‘Veep’) As the author of a “50 Shades” type book, she’s raped by one of her readers who takes the book too seriously. “I’m a fan of SVU. The stories always draw you in, and unlike many other procedural dramas out there, SVU is never afraid to delve deeper into its regular characters. I think that’s what inevitably keeps us all coming back. It’s a strange comfort to go any hotel room in the States and you can bet on finding an SVU marathon on. Overall I think the comfort comes from watching these stories play out, and knowing that there is someone in the justice system that wants to do the right thing, that, despite all of society’s ills, these fictional characters are doing their damnedest to uphold the rights of the most vulnerable in our city.”
Martin Short – S6, episode 134: “Pure” (2005) (comedian, actor) Short played a con artist whose wife would kidnap girls for him to satisfy his pathological need to rape virgins. He arrives at the precinct as a psychic, claiming he had a vision of a recent kidnapping, to throw everyone off his trail.
Dean Winters – First appeared S1 episode 1: “Payback” (1999) (‘Divorce,’ ‘Brooklyn 99’) As Detective Brian Cassidy, he was teamed with Detective John Munch for a unique pairing. He also had a romantic relationship with Benson, both in season 1 and season 15. “I was shooting Oz at the time, and Richard Belzer was an old friend of mine. I worked with him on Homicide. Belzer pretty much said to Dick Wolf, ‘I’ll do the part if you make Dean Winters Brian Cassidy,’ and I thought he was joking, but he actually wasn’t, and that’s how I got the role. I remember specifically, I forget which episode it was, maybe the first or the second one, we were shooting on Columbus Avenue, right in the middle of the street and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow this is really cool.’ And, it was just fun to be around Chris [Meloni, Stabler] and Mariska {Hargitay, Benson]. They had a real back and forth that you couldn’t capture anywhere else. I’ve never met anyone on the street who was not a rabid fan. It’s like comfort food to them.
Lea Thompson – S6, episode 117: “Birthright” (2004) (‘Back to the Future,’ now on ‘Switched at Birth’) Thompson played a desperate woman who kidnapped a little girl, claiming she’s her biological mother. A DNA test proves that she’s telling the truth, and the cops investigate a fertility doctor who’s selling women’s unused eggs without their knowledge.
Lou Diamond Phillips – S7, episode 158: “Fault” (2006) (‘La Bamba,’ ‘Longmire’) As a sex offender who kidnaps two children after murdering the rest of their family, he kills one of the children, stabs Benson and takes Stabler hostage before he’s taken down by a sniper. This is the case marked a turning point in the series in that it nearly broke up lead duo Benson and Stabler’s long partnership.
Wyclef Jean – S18, episode 395: “Broken Rhymes” (2016) (Grammy nominated rapper, actor) Jean guest starred as a record label CEO who orchestrates an attack on a transgender woman, in order to protect his artist’s gangster image. “I felt this issue was an important subject matter. In our society, people are not supposed be judged by the decisions they make with their bodies but should be judged only by their heart. 50 years from now, people will remember a show that dealt with issues head on, and was never scared to show truth. The cast and the crew were so warm. They made me feel like I was part of a high school musical - so much love and laughter on set. I also found out Mariska [Hargitay, Benson] is a gangsta rapper, and Ice T is her coach! I’ve always been a fan of the show. Why go to law school when you have SVU? I think I’m a great lawyer, watching and yelling at the TV, screaming out my lungs who’s guilty and who’s not!”
Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
Eric McCormack – S11, episode 226: “Sugar” (2009) (‘Will & Grace’) McCormack played the CEO of a dating website accused of murdering one of its users. He confesses to the murder, but ultimately has to admit it was his daughter. Before she’s taken to jail, the young girl makes her father pay for his years of neglect.
Will Hart/NBCU Photo Bank
Cybill Shepherd - S15, episode 322: “American Tragedy” (2013) (‘Moonlighting,’ ‘Cybill’) As a celebrity chef, Shepherd’s character claimed self-defense after she shoots a teenaged boy on her doorstep, mistaking him for serial rapist that was on the loose at the time.
Michael Parmelee/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Jennette McCurdy – S6 episode 127: “Contagious” (2005) (‘Sam & Cat,’ ‘iCarly’) McCurdy played a sexually abused child who fearfully accuses the wrong man, ending his teaching career for good. “As a kid, I loved a juicy dramatic role, ever the child actress! I remember my mom was really delicate with me because the content was a bit mature, so she crossed out some of the "adult" words to preserve my innocence! Aaron Lipstadt, who directed me, [pulled] me aside to have a conversation the day before we started shooting the episode. He told me to not worry about the parts in the script where it told me to cry and to only cry if I felt like crying. At that time, I had done a lot of roles that required a lot of crying, and I was used to directors seeming really nervous about those teary scenes - I could feel the pressure a mile away! It was so nice to have the freedom to feel whatever I felt on camera and not push too hard. Mariska was awesome! She was really patient and kind on set. The show is a great mixture of suspense, mystery, drama, and great characters that keeps audiences invested for the long haul.”
Pablo Schreiber – first appeared S14, episode 319 as William Lewis (also guest starred as a different character in S8). ( ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘American Gods’) Schreiber played a serial rapist and killer. A chance arrest by Rollins leads to the discovery of several gruesome crimes. But with much of the evidence thrown out, he’s released on bail… and shows up at Benson’s apartment, taking her along on a deadly crime spree that forever changes the detective.
Micahel Parmelee/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
David Eigenberg, S13, episode 294: “Strange Beauty” (2012) (‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Chicago Fire’) Eigenberg played a psychiatrist who paid desperate women to let him alter their bodies, fulfilling a sexual fantasy. “I was drawn to a role and SVU because I got to grow a beard and play a really demented bad guy. The showrunner, Warren Leight, said that when he read the script he immediately thought of me… I don’t know what that says about me. But, I'd like to think that he saw an ability in me to play really nice people with serious problems in their character and development. It was a privilege for me to be there. I know of several people that love the show very much and find it weirdly soothing… maybe it's the compassionate voices trying to find justice to terrible crimes…or maybe it’s just the “dun dun” sound.”


In honor of marking their milestone 400th episode (!), which will air on Wednesday, February 8th at 9/8c, here’s a quick look back at a variety of memorable guest actors who’ve played some of the instigators, perpetrators and victims on Law & Order: SVU. 


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