Christopher Meloni has been away from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 10 years now, but the actor has never stopped working. The 59-year-old has appeared in dozens of movies and shows since he got his big acting break in the mid-1990s. He might be best known as the short-fused Detective Elliot Stabler, but he has proven to be a versatile performer in his almost three decades in the business.
Meloni was born in Washington, D.C., and began studying acting at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He moved to New York after graduating and continued his studies there. His career officially began in 1988, when he landed a small part in The Equalizer. He would continue racking up small parts in shows and movies (even voicing a character in the Jim Henson Studios show Dinosaurs) before he landed his first big television role as the bisexual criminal Chris Keller on Oz in 1998.
In 1999, Meloni's life changed when Dick Wolf cast him as Stabler on SVU, the first Law & Order spin-off. He played the character for 12 seasons, earning an Emmy nomination in 2006. He left the show in 2011, reportedly due to a contract dispute. However, Meloni recently told Entertainment Weekly he felt "it was time" to leave the show and take on other projects. Now he is back and ready to lead his own series as Stabler, Law & Order: Organized Crime. Before SVU airs at 9 p.m. ET on NBC and the first episode of Organized Crime follows, here is a look at six other important roles in Meloni's career.
Wet Hot American Summer
When Meloni wants to, he has a funny bone that is impossible to hide. In 2001, even while on SVU, Meloni played Gene, a shell-shocked Vietnam war veteran and camp chef who talks to a can of vegetables, in Wet Hot American Summer. Meloni reprised the role in the follow-up Netflix shows, First Day of Camp and Ten Years Later. Other comedies on Meloni's resume include Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He also starred in SyFy's Happy! from 2017 to 2019.prevnext
Oz gave Meloni his big break. In the show's second season, he debuted as Chris Keller, a bisexual serial killer and psychopath. Meloni got the part thanks to creator Tom Fontana, whom he previously worked with on Homicide: Life on the Street. "I'd worked for Tom on Homicide, I played a bounty hunter for him, and I loved his style of storytelling. So I was all in," Meloni said of Oz in an AV Club interview. "I really felt I was in good hands, and that I was going to be pretty outlandish stuff. But by the time I started, I'd seen the whole first season, so I was locked in on how he told things."prevnext
Meloni also has a knack for great voice-over performances, none better than his side-splitting role as Commissioner James Gordon in HBO Max's Harley Quinn. It's typically a serious part, but in the show, everything is heightened to the extreme, and Jim is one cop who has seen some serious s—. Meloni's experience in cop shows just adds more to his performance.prevnext
The Handmaid's Tale
In 2019, Meloni joined Hulu's acclaimed The Handmaid's Tale in Season 3. He plays High Commander George Winslow, opposite Elizabeth Reaser as Olivia Winslow. In Meloni's first episode, he had a memorable scene with Joseph Fiennes, who plays Waterford. There was a brief moment where Winslow rubs Waterford's shoulder in a sexual way. "I wanted to give a hint of the degradation, the rot, the late stages Roman Empire," Meloni told Gold Derby of the scene. "What's the line in the sand you're willing to draw or not draw? How much are you willing to do for power?"prevnext
Meloni has been in a handful of movies throughout his career, including the hit 1999 romantic comedy Runaway Bride. Unfortunately for him, Richard Gere also starred in the movie, and there is no way Gere is not going to end up with Julia Roberts by the end. Meloni co-starred as the fourth man Roberts' Maggie Carpenter was set to marry. Meloni's other movies include 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in LAs Vegas, Man of Steel, 42, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl.prevnext
In 2012, Meloni had a memorable part on Showtime's vampire drama True Blood. He appeared in five episodes as Roman Zimojic, a 500-year-old vampire who leads the Vampire Authority. "His unbending drive to get what he wants," Meloni told The Hollywood Reporter of the character. "I think on the outside if you're with him, you agree and you want to follow someone like that. If you disagree, then you think he's a fanatic."prev