‘Law & Order’: Here’s Who Got Their Start on the Show

by Allison Hambrick

Law & Order has a history of turning actors into household names. From the era of Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach to that of Anthony Anderson and Jeremy Sisto, the series made many stars.

Additionally, Law & Order featured a large variety of guest stars. Of these actors, a number went on to become very famous. Popular stars such as Idris Elba, Laverne Cox, Jennifer Garner, and Kerry Washington all featured in episodes. Even Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump guest-starred in a 2008 episode. Interestingly, some hugely successful actors had their first acting roles in the series.

Before gaining recognition from American Horror Story, Sarah Paulson appeared in Law & Order. True to form, Paulson played a 14-year-old girl accused of murder in the 1994 episode “Family Values.” She would go on to guest star again in the 2010 episode “Shadow.” After both appearances, Paulson won an Emmy Award for her role in The People v. O.J. Simpson. She was named one of Time‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2017.

Another major star who got his start on Law & Order is the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. The critically-acclaimed actor started his career playing a man on trial for rape in the first season episode “The Violence of Summer.” He would go on to have a stellar career, winning an Oscar for playing the title role in Capote. Interestingly, Nick Fury himself, Samuel L. Jackson, also made an appearance in this episode.

Other stars who made their first television appearances on Law & Order include Emmy Rossum, Leighton Meester, and Ginnifer Goodwin. Additionally, a number of actors who went on to become series regulars, guest-starred first.

From Law & Order Guest Star to Series Regular

Prior to joining the revival series, Camryn Manheim began her acting career on Law & Order. The actress had her first onscreen role in a 1991 episode. She appeared in the controversial episode titled “Life Choice,” which centers on a deadly bombing in an abortion clinic.

However, that wasn’t her last time on the show before becoming a regular. Her next appearance was in a 1993 episode, “Benevolence.” She played Martha Rollins in the show, which solved the murder of a young hearing-impaired girl. Additionally, she guest-starred as an uncaring foster mother named Beatrice Hines in the episode “Nurture.” Manheim has not been on Law & Order since 1994.

In anticipation of her new role, Manheim shared a post to her Instagram. The actress captioned the announcement: “I am over the moon to be joining the cast of Law & Order as Lt. Kate Dixon. My very first job on television was on Law & Order, so it feels like I’m coming home. New York, here I come!”

Law & Order returns on Feb. 24 to NBC.