Chris Meloni's quarantine look might not exactly fit in at the New York Police Department. Ahead of the actor's return to his iconic role of Elliot Stabler on Law & Order's new spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, he joked on Good Morning America about how co-star Mariska Hargitay might view his pandemic aesthetic before he makes a reappearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Asked about the longevity of his full goatee, Meloni responded, "I have a new Law & Order show coming up, so we're gonna try and figure out exactly where Elliot Stabler is. I guess part of that is also going to revolve around, 'Has Elliot grown a goatee?'" With Stabler's facial hair situation still up in the air, Meloni added that for now, it's "just me letting my freak flag fly." As for what Hargitay's character, Olivia Benson, would think of her old partner returning with a whole new look, he joked, "I'll call Mariska, see if she gives it a head's up."
Meloni's Stabler will star in NBC's new Organized Crime spinoff, which chronicles the former SVU detective returning to the NYPD as the department makes important changes that will cause him to shift his own behavior in order to lead a new task force taking on the city's most powerful crime syndicates. Meloni told Entertainment Tonight last week that while he has had opportunities to return as Stabler in the past, "a certain piece just fell into place" that made now the right time.
"For me, there were just personal things that I was like, 'You know, now is a good time.' That was it. There was nothing secret. It just was effortlessly correct," he continued. "It's one of these [things where] I felt like I believed in the stars and all that… I'd go, 'Oh, the stars are telling me you know but because it was just right.'"
Stabler's first reappearance will be as SVU returns for Season 22, with fans itching for the much-awaited reunion between Stabler and Benson. "[SVU] gave birth to Mariska and Meloni, and Benson and Stabler. So we're kind of inextricably linked and connected in that way," Meloni said of his strong bond with Hargitay. "Beyond that, we're very good friends. I think we value each other." Working together with his longtime friend and colleague felt like no time had ever passed. "We just pick it up right where we left off and we've said it's like we don't have this relationship with anyone else," Meloni said. "It's unique, it's full of laughter, she's full of love. We just kind of fall seamlessly into that place every time we see each other."