Linus Roache and Stephanie March recently spoke to the press about their roles in the new season of Law & Order: SVU. If you are a fan of the Law & Order franchise, then you’ll recognize them as ADAs Mike Cutter (well, now Bureau Chief Mike Cutter) and Alex Cabot. Cutter was a staple on the mothership for three seasons, and March was on Special Victims Unit from 2000-2003, and then a handful of episodes each in 2009 & 2010. She has been one of the franchise’s most popular characters, and fans were outraged when she had to leave because of a plot in the storyline.
This season is going to be a sea of changes. Christopher Meloni will not be returning as Detective Stabler, Mariska Hargitay will be returning in a much more limited role, and Kelli Giddish (Chase) and Danny Pino (Cold Case) are joining the cast. So having Roache and March on as Cutter and Cabot will round out the cast nicely.
Jump with us to find out what they had to say about their characters and the new season.
On what makes this season so different
Linus: What makes this season different? Well I think we’re going to find out over time. I mean listen. I don’t have the ultimate answer. I think (Warren Light) would give you probably the best answer to that question.
But my sense is that the show is evolving very nicely, bringing in, you know, some more dynamic characters with Danny Pino and, you know, Kelli playing, you know, the other detective. So we’ve got new blood bringing old blood back into new situations.
For example, my character’s not just coming back as an executive ADA. He’s now Bureau Chief and he’s got an extra responsibility.
So I think there’s a sense of how the show is moving into new territory with the characters but I think what will stay the same is the emotional strength of the piece and just really – I was thinking over the weekend that I suddenly realized that of the three Law & Order shows, that the mothership was like the moral philosophical show that dealt with the moral issues of the law often and Criminal Intent was dealing with the psychological.
And SVU has really been very powerful because it stays very true to the emotional and I think that will continue to be its hook for the audience.
Stephanie: Yeah. I think that’s an excellent answer. I’m in complete agreement. I don’t think we know exactly how the whole season is going to unfold but it does feel like a leaner, faster machine which is a great thing to be a part of.
On how many episodes they are in and the changes to the show
Linus Roache: Steph, do you want to go?
Stephanie March: Oh, sure. Thank you Linus. He’s such a gentlemen. I am certainly doing five episodes and as far as the changes this season, you know, we have a few new characters and a new team of writers so it has a familiar feel but it’s invigorated with a lot of good, new blood. It’s been a wonderful place to work so far.
Linus: As far as I know, I’m doing four episodes and likewise with what Stephanie is saying, it feels like things are being mixed up in a very creative way and there’s some interesting crosspollination going on.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see a lot of other characters from the past appearing through this season and making the most of all the much loved characters from the Law & Order franchise.
On the dynamic in the season premiere between their characters
Linus: [There is some tension] but there’s also a lot of respect. I – I mean I’m really looking forward to working more with Steph. You know we’ve only just done one episode together but I’m really looking forward to doing more together but I really like the fact that suddenly I find myself on the other side of the desk selling – telling someone who’s very passionate to do the right thing that maybe they shouldn’t do it but actually wanting them to do it.
So I find myself standing where Jack McCoy was standing before a little bit and that was very interesting and I’m really looking forward to taking the dynamic further because, you know, I really love working with Stephanie so it’s going to be fun to continue.
Stephanie: It’s very mutual and I should tell you something about Linus. He knows his lines so well that he doesn’t even bring the pages to rehearsal. That’s how professional Linus is.
And working with Linus has been so much fun and it really is nice to revisit a familiar character in a new – working in a new capacity because you get to texture and layer a role that you’ve been working on for a long time with more authority, more passion, more politics. It’s a real world application of what happens as people rise in the professional ranks and I really enjoy it. It makes a character that I have been working on for a long time – it adds a new dimension and I enjoy it.
On whether he thought there was going to be another season of the original Law & Order
Linus: Yeah. We did at that time. Yeah. We definitely thought – I mean you can never predict anything in this business as we all know. It’s a very unpredictable thing.
But I – we definitely had a sense that we were going to be moving into the 21st season. I mean not only because it was going to be the record breaking season for the show. You know so…
So we all were a bit surprised and there was a rumor going around that we kind of had it in the bag. So that just teaches you that you’ve never got it in the bag until it’s actually happening.
On how their roles in the current season of SVU came about
Stephanie: For me it was the usual good fairy touching me on the shoulder and saying would you like to come back and have a little bit of a visit and I said, you know, sure. Why not?
Linus: Yeah. Yeah. Same with me. It was quite a surprise but it was a nice surprise. I thought when they mentioned – my agent called up and said they’re interested in bringing you into SVU. I thought what – as a killer? As a murderer?
Stephanie: Maybe. You don’t know.
Linus: You never know. But it was nice. And also why I was intrigued to do it as well was because I got a chance to take the character into a new dynamic as someone who’s having to take more responsibility than he was before and he can’t just be so cavalier. So there was a kind of interesting challenge as well as an actor to do something different with the role as well.
On what they think makes SVU successful
Linus: Well no I think I mentioned it earlier but I was thinking about this thing – what is the difference and why has this one been successful. And I think SVU is very visceral and emotional and, you know, there’s a strong you know through Mariska’s character – there’s a strong identity with really getting into the hearts of what it’s like to be a victim of these horrible crimes and how these people are fighting for justice.
So I think there’s something about the show that’s kind of very visceral in that way and I think that’s been part of its attraction. I don’t know the answer that leads to its success but that seems to me to be part of it.
Stephanie: Yeah. I would say that [Mariska’s] character is certainly – she’s such a draw and has so much empathy. The audience finds a voice through her and in her.
Stephanie: I would also like to say that I think part of the genius of any of the Law & Order shows was – is and was our guest stars and, you know, we draw from some of the best people in the theatrical community in New York on camera and off I should say and they do such a wonderful job with these really meaty, juicy roles. I think we owe a lot of our success to their performances.
Linus: That’s a great point Stephanie. And I think also just to add to that and then it made me think that, you know, the writing on all the Law & Order shows has been incredibly strong and if you look at the pace of any of the shows, they probably have more scenes in them than most television shows. So you get a lot of content. There’s a lot of plot. There’s a lot driving each episode.
Linus: It’s always been the case and the writing’s incredibly strong. It’s very lean. It’s not, you know, you’re only seeing things that you need to see that move things forward and that’s always been part of the whole franchise I think why they’ve been strong shows.
Don’t miss the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU tonight on NBC at 10/9c.