‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Ice-T Once Revealed Why He Joined the Show

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

As the hit NBC drama Law & Order: SVU entered into its twenty-first season last fall, it earned the honor of being the longest-running primetime live-action series of all time.

With this, the series has also earned its place in television history with some of the longer-running characters of all time in a primetime series.

One of these iconic characters is Ice-T’s Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola.

However, Ice-T’s arrival on the Law & Order: SVU team did surprise many in the beginning.

The longtime performer gained popularity years earlier for a rap song titled Cop Killer. Not exactly a common resume addition for someone who ends up playing one of television’s most prolific detectives.

“You think because I am a rapper I should have turned this down?” Ice-T once told Page Six in an interview.

“That would have been stupid,” the Law & Order: SVU detective continues. “I am about getting that check.”

Ice-T Is No Stranger To The New York City Detective Way of Life

Of course, Law & Order: SVU isn’t Ice-T’s first turn at playing a New York City detective.

In 1991, the longtime actor and rapper found fame on the big screen portraying New Jack City’s Scotty Appleton, an undercover detective determined to stop a drug lord who is taking over the streets of New York City.

In the film, Ice-T’s character goes deep undercover to bring down Wesley Snipes’s Nino Brown who has gripped the city with his criminal activities.

Ice -T first joined the cast of Law & Order: SVU in the show’s second season.

It’s interesting to note, the actor’s Sergeant Tutuola was initially slated to appear within a four-episode arc in Law & Order: SVU’s second season.

But, Ice-T’s portrayal of Seargent Fin Tutuoula impressed Law & Order audiences so much during his time in the series that he quickly became a fan favorite.

This, of course, led to Ice-T’s iconic run in the wildly popular detective series.

Along with being named one of the actors to perform in a live-action primetime series, he has also found himself shattering some other records along the way.

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Shatters Records

In 2017 the Fin Tutuola actor broke another long-held record held by the Law & Order franchise. After eight seasons starring in SVU, Sergeant Tutuola became the longest-running Black character on television.

This record was previously held by another Law & Order player, S. Epatha Merkerson’s, Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. Merkerson was a regular in the franchise for seventeen years.

Ice-T’s Odafin Tutuola proudly holds the title for being the second longest-running player in the prime-time series. However, it is the actor’s costar Mariska Hargitay who holds the title for being the longest-running player on a live-action prime-time series.

“We could never know what this would turn into,” Mariska Hargitay has said in an interview.

“But Dick knew that we had to tell these stories,” the actress adds. “And to write a show that has literally, in a concrete way, changed our culture.”