Actor Christopher Meloni is making his return to the “Law & Order” franchise and opening up about the circumstances surrounding his departure from “SVU.”
This year, NBC announced that it would be bringing back Meloni’s character, Elliot Stabler, for a spinoff called “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” The new series will find Stabler returning to the NYPD after experiencing a personal tragedy, though Meloni would not elaborate on the details. However, he did reveal that his character would be part of a task force cracking down on organized crime.
Meloni starred in “Law & Order: SVU” for 12 seasons before he was written out of the show abruptly, causing fans to speculate that there was bad blood on set. However, the 59-year-old actor cleared up the rumors, saying that there was “zero animosity” at the time of his departure.
“How I left was a different issue and had nothing to do with the ‘Law & Order’ people, the ‘SVU’ people or with Dick Wolf,” Meloni confirmed. “I left with zero animosity, but I did leave clearly and open-eyed in going forward and finding new adventures.”
“I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do, keep moving forward,'” he added. “I had done the ‘Law & Order’ way of storytelling, which they do really well, and I was interested in telling stories from a different angle — whether comedic or inhabiting a new world or doing it on different platforms.”
Despite his desire to branch out, when show producer Dick Wolf approached him for the spinoff, he was all for it.
“I never thought this was going to happen, but the circumstances for me changed,” he told the outlet. “So ‘yes’ became the correct answer.”
To fans delight, Meloni also hinted at a possible reunion between his character and his old partner, Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay.
“It just has to be. Benson and Stabler are inextricably linked, locked, and connected. I think there is truly and deeply a worthwhile, inherent drama in exploring that relationship and the complexity of how Stabler left — the unresolved emotions both characters feel and how the fans feel.”
Since his “SVU” exit, Meloni has acted in roles on “True Blood,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Pose,” “Veep.” He also appeared in movies such as “Surviving Jack, Happy!” and two “Wet Hot American Summer” spinoffs for Netflix.