'Law & Order': Odelya Halevi Reveals Her Inspiration Behind Playing ADA Samantha Maroun (Exclusive)

Law & Order's Odelya Halevi had to dig deep to find her inspiration for playing Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun. Having grown up watching Law & Order with her mom as a little girl in Israel, Halevi told PopCulture.com she at first looked to the long line of strong female ADAs in the show's history while developing her character before realizing she needed to turn her line of sight inward instead. 

"What I did was I binge-watched the show all over again and I was like, 'Oh, maybe I should be more like, [Carey Lowell], maybe I should be more like that. What do they want? What should I be like?' So I learned a lot of things from watching all these amazing actresses that played the ADAs before," she shared. It was when Halevi internalized the 2022 revival being a "whole new beginning" that she was able to break away and find her own way of playing Maroun.

"Even with my accent being foreign, I was like, 'No, I need to sound completely American. I need to work on that.' And then I realized, 'No. They love you just the way you are. People can love you for just the way you are and that's what you need to be,'" she realized. "I'm so happy that nowadays there is so much room on TV and in film for foreigners because I never thought I would get to play a lawyer. ...It's just amazing to see how the industry changed so much for the better."

Halevi immediately was attracted to the role of Maroun as a strong woman who wouldn't take no for an answer or hesitate with her opinion but who also had a backstory that fleshed her out beyond New York City ADA. "I realized in my audition that there was going to be a closing argument for Maroun in the first episode and a whole backstory, and I was blown away by that because that's something that didn't really happen before in the original Law & Order," she told PopCulture. "So that was really, really exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, but mostly exciting."

Going on set for the first time to act opposite Emmy-nominated actors like Hugh Dancy and Sam Waterston was another pinch-me moment for Halevi. "At first, I was so nervous. I would work with Sam and I would forget my lines and I would just look at him and I said, 'Sam, I can't look at you because then I forget my lines because you are just a legend and you are god. You're just god,'" she recalled. "And he came up to me and he said, 'We're all here to have fun. Don't forget that.' So I really look forward to the days that I work with Sam, he's like papa bear. ... He makes people laugh and we joke around all day long between takes ... it's incredible." Law & Order returns Thursday, April 28 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.