Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The “Law & Order: SVU” Guest Spot

Actors Reg E. Cathey & Dean Winters on “Law & Order: SVU”

Many actors (some of my friends included) have appeared on television series. Sometimes they appear on the same show more than once as different characters. I am specifically talking about  Law & Order SVU, which just happens to be one of my favorite shows. It has been one of my personal goals to get on the show for the past five years to be on the show  (Philip Huffman, seriously, I’m still around. Once you have the right role for me, call me.) The Law & Order franchise has always been famous for reusing actors in different facets. Diane Neal, who played A.D.A. Casey Novak, first appeared on the show in a 2001 episode called “Ridicule.”  One of the guest stars, Reg E. Cathey,  in the most recent episode entitled “Undercover Blue” has appeared on all of the various incarnations of Law & Order. He first appeared in an  SVU episode in 2008 playing an undercover cop. Since then, he has appeared in four episodes as an attorney. I have a friend whom I did the play Trailerville, has appeared on the show twice. P.J. Marshall first appeared in a 2001 episode as a homeless man. He had what is known as an “Under 5” which literally means the role is under five lines.  A year later, he appeared in the episode “Mother” playing one of the lead guest stars. There are so many people who have appeared on the various different shows as completely different people I can’t even list them all.

I am happy that actors are getting work. It’s great. YAY for employment. However, I think that I could have swapped out   actors who have appeared on the show more than once with several actor friends that I know. Hell, sometimes I look on the screen and say, “I could have done THAT. Geez.” I think that we need to have more diversity in casting. That includes the tendency to reuse people in different roles. Do they think that we don’t notice? Avid fans of the show certainly do. New York has wonderful actors. Dear casting people, give us other people a chance. Thanks.

11 thoughts on “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: The “Law & Order: SVU” Guest Spot

  1. While I am not familiar with your work or your credentials, I will agree with your rant.

    My wife and I are long time SVU fans, however, I do tire of the double-dipping (or, at times, triple-dipping) into the actor pool. To me, that just smacks of laziness on the part of casting directors, and insulting to the fans as if we wouldn’t notice. I’m sure there is a wide variety of untapped talent out there whom I’m sure would do a great job given the opportunity (it’s not as if acting is hard or something), and I’m sure that the SVU faithful wouldn’t mind seeing some fresh faces.

  2. It would be different if the actors in question were putting on certain kinds of make(or mask) and tweaking their voices in order to do duel roles. But they aren’t so to me, being the fan I am it’s upsetting to see and just pisses me off to the point that I’d stop watching Law and order sometimes, But it’s literally one of the best, only good and longest running shows on tv, So I always end up watching again. Please in the future stop choosing the same actors/actresses in duel roles. We would love you SO MUCH MORE if you didn’t.

    1. There is one young actress (I don’t recall her name) who played the witness girl in the episode “Savant” and was made up with malformed dentures and thick glasses… Then she played in another episode as herself and was totally different. But, I agree that recognizable actors should not be used twice… Like Richard Thomas and Kyle McLaughlin (both very recognizable faces) who each played two different parts… To name a few. There was one actor who played a rapist in two different episodes… Not the same rapist, but it was confusing to the character identification. It’s particularly odd when they have an actor play a murderer in one episode, then bring him back to play a lawyer in another episode. And by the way… The actress playing ADA Casey Novak was featured as a bad girl in an early episode. Also, the actress currently playing the new blond detective (can’t recall character name) was a rape victim in an earlier episode.

      1. I should add… Actor Michael O’Keefe might hold the record for number of Law & Order re-appearances (playing different roles). He was featured in an episode of the original Law & Order, playing twin brothers, no less. He was also in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. And he has been in at least two episodes of Law & Order: SVU (playing two separate roles).

  3. Keep in mind that many of the Law & Order shows whether criminal intent or SVU have helped many New York actors keeping health insurance over the years so don’t pick on the producers!!!! LOL

  4. I have stopped watching the show since I left my initial comment.

    Television history is unfortunately replete with series that were prematurely cancelled. However, once in a while they’ll go the other way and keep a show around too long. SVU is now at the point where it has been around too long. The last four years or so the quality has been dipping and dipping and dipping to the point where I just couldn’t stand it anymore. My wife pointed out where it went bad. It wasn’t when Chris Meloni left; it was where they brought in that Stucky character as that annoying blonde CSU tech. That sucked, and the show never recovered from that suckness.

    To be fair to NBC, it isn’t as if their Prime-Time schedule is wall-to-wall quality chok-full of hits. So, I get it. They don’t have a lot to choose from (apparently). But, still, I think Dick Wolf should have seen what’s going on and to protect the dignity of the once-great show should have said “Enough. Let’s pull the plug before this gets any worse.”

    I think they set the bar too high initially, and I will always compare the current product to seasons 3 through about 7 when it was at its peak of quality. That’s why I can’t watch it anymore. When Cragan retired as a character, Bret Linden retired as a viewer.

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