Neal Baer: With [rich kids], there’s so much getting away with murder, literally. Even ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) faces criticism for taking on such an ambitious case. When seen from that point of view, then their arguments were always great and pointed because they had equal weight. I made the mistake of going online and reading reader comments and people were like, who the fuck is this guy?!
[Laughs] Let’s just not stab Christopher Meloni, okay? Mariska grabbed me by the arm and dragged me down the hall literally screaming, “Dick, you have to meet the real-life Olivia Benson,” and it changed my life. [Laughs] I’m sort of a Luddite, so I was like, what is this world?
On SVU, crime was a door to a world, and those worlds were unique.
You know, I learned so many ways that I could get away with a crime and so many things not to do, like don’t use bleach because O’Halloran will find it! I was always looking for the ethical issue.
I got hired to play a businesswoman wearing business suits? I know I got the question over and over and over in these early days from the network and studio heads going: “How many stories can you tell about rape?” There was a sense that the show was sort of salacious and exploitative. At the end of the episode, his former teenage victim, Lauren Molby, is revealed to be alive and waiting for him (Florencia Lozano), but he rejects her because she’s “gotten so old.”. It was so deeply horrifying for me that I felt a real responsibility as an actor to really go there and bring this.
You have 150 people standing around doing their job, and it brought everybody to silence. They’d be like, “Yeah, we can’t do that.” So trying to work within the parameters of what’s written and still make it interesting, a lot of that was keeping the jury awake. So I actually had to stab it and then the blood pack would burst and you’d get some good movie magic. When I decided to write the scene of the attempted rape, we just said, “Well, you know we’re going to have to go as close as possible.” I still have nightmares watching Mariska’s performance, it’s so haunting and intense.
Most TV viewers were introduced to Tighe in the role of paramedic Roy DeSoto on the adventure series Emergency!, which ran from 1972 through 1977. That kind of reversal is wonderful to play because she made me want to cry, and she was crying. I saw like, oh my god, Benson put her overnight bag on the bed next to step next to Cabot’s bed, so then I did more of that. I just remember thinking that it felt like the right thing to explore: a crime that could straddle both the real and the virtual world.
Florencia Lozano: I had just broken up with my boyfriend of 10 years, and when I read the part it really resonated with me. There’s that scene where [my character] gets to see the man that I’m in love with and I realize that everything I thought I knew wasn’t true.
Even in the episode about the animals brought in illegally, Stabler’s undercover so he has to pretend that she’s his girlfriend. Over and over, women told us in real life, “Why wasn’t that my detective when I was raped?” On the other hand, Elliot Stabler was a man filled with rage at what primarily men were doing to women. I was pretty sure I knew I was going to be leaving the show and I killed off the nun, Sister Peg. For a brief time, Kevin Tighe was a television star, thanks to the popular action drama "Emergency!" It was weird being in high school and having some of my work come out, like Larry Clark’s film Bully. One of my favorite things in the world to do [was] for people playing anyone on the stand. Of course, the fans went cuckoo over it.
Tamara Tunie (actor who played Dr. Melinda Warner, medical examiner): At the time, I thought it was very important that the show went into the fact that even though your mind is thinking one thing, your body can physically respond in a way that you’re not agreeing with. But when she arrived, she found there was only one bed in the man’s house, and she was expected to sleep with him, which, as you can imagine, led to abuse. And I was wearing, as you do when you’re young, way too high heels. Diane Neal (actor who later played ADA Casey Novak, rapist in “Ridicule”): The whole nature of the real SVU is crimes against children, crimes against women, sexual abuse and so on, and men always seemed kind of left out. I took everybody!
Tilghman It was never the rape of the week or the murder of the week; it was about people and issues and moral dilemmas and medical, legal, and ethical questions. Paul Grellong: It was unforgettable, really, her performance in that scene. Specializing in gritty authority roles in the last decade, Kevin Tighe was reunited with his Emergency co-star Randolph Mantooth in the 1991 thriller Spy Games. Highest Rated: I also consulted the Practical Guide to Sexual Homicide Investigation. But it also provides a catharsis for the viewer; at least in the show, they get the bad guy, even though that’s not always possible in real life. Neal and Dick and everyone just said, “Nope, this is the story we need to do.” And then even after we shot it, there was still a lot of concern, like maybe we needed to dial it back in the editing, and they didn’t. Twitter was around, but I certainly wasn’t on it. Florencia Lozano: I remember doing research into girls who had been similarly kidnapped by men and how horrifying and heartbreaking it was. At the same time, there was a guy [in the news] who was arrested for kidnapping a little girl.
Goffman: I do remember that at the script level, the network was somewhat nervous that it might be too intense and it might, you know, go too far. [Laughs] We kept trying to slip it in, in ways that we thought the editors would edit out, sort of our joke for the production.
There’s just so much darkness in the world that we try not to pay attention to. People are yelling and screaming or eating hot dogs, and suddenly it’s like, now, talk about your rape, action! As the episode snakes through potential male victims, the murderers end up being her rich, preppy friend clique led by queen bee Brittany (Kelli Garner). The dark, heavily researched episode was just one example of the show’s commitment to turning real issues into television. Diane Neal: We have lots of episodes where the rich kids go down and then we have a lot of ones where the rich kids get away, and I always think that those are more real. Michelle Fazekas: NBC network has a whole Broadcast Standards and Practices department, so they’ll get the script and they will give it their BS&P report that says, “On this page, make sure we don’t see too much blood,” or something. You can only really approximate what it’s like to be stabbed [laughs] from what you may see in other movies or other television shows, so you hope you get it right.
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