This week's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was an hour full of twists and turns, anchored by special guest star performances from two of Broadway's brightest stars. Hadestown star Eva Noblezada starred as a "cam girl" raped by one of her biggest fans, played by Beetlejuice actor Alex Brightman. But as Brightman explained in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, the crime itself was not even the most shocking part of the episode.
In "Turn Me On, Take Me Private," Noblezada starred as Zoey Carrera, who live-streamed videos of herself to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic. Brightman played Gabe Miller, a paralegal who thought Zoey was as much in love with him as he was with her. He tracked her down and broke into her apartment, where he raped her while she continued streaming. During his arraignment, Gabe was supposed to take a plea deal, but instead, he pleaded guilty and defended himself so he could spend more time with Zoey.
The entire episode was "ridiculously complicated," as Brightman explained, but there was one part of it that stuck with him. Once it is clear the case is going to trial, the SVU team is worried that Zoey will be judged harshly for what she does, and they become even more concerned when Gabe packs the jury with older women whom he thinks will side with him. For Brightman, the "most shocking" part of the episode was the role "human nature" could play in the case.
Of course, the assault was "unforgivable," but "I think the most genuinely deeply shocking thing about [the episode] is that it causes conversation, that people do take sides on this kind of issue where it's strange, but it does reflect how we feel in real life," Brightman said. "We see somebody, we make a judgment, and that's what we think of them." There is a bright side though. During the courtroom scenes, the episode shows the "human behind the job," Brightman said. "And that we get to see her for who she really is and not what she does, which I think is one of the brilliant things the writers have done in this episode."
In fact, Brightman thought the "most terrifying" part of the episode was seeing the jury begin to buy Gabe's arguments and being unable to see Zoey as a human. "I think that it's nice that they're making this episode about somebody in a world that really exists in multitudes," Brightman said. "People cam all the time, and they're wonderful, and sometimes the content is sexual, and most of the time it's not."
Although Brightman is a big SVU fan, this was his first time on the show and he got to check off two big items on his bucket list: get interrogated by Ice-T and arrested by Mariska Hargitay. "Getting cuffs put on me by the one and only Olivia Benson, it's like, there's nothing better," Brightman said with a laugh. "I mean, I would have been okay, I would have been totally satisfied to be a dead body in that episode. So to be able to act against the Ice-T of it all or the Jamie Hyder of it all, or especially, most of the episode is me and Peter Scanavino going back and forth."
Brightman and Noblezada's appearance on SVU is just the start of more Broadway actors filling in guest roles for the rest of Season 22. Although the show often attracts Broadway talent, showrunner Warren Leight recently made it clear his priority was to give stage stars more time while Broadway is shut down during the pandemic. New SVU episodes air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.