‘Law & Order’: Chris Meloni Once Revealed Grueling Schedule Filming ‘SVU’

by Keeli Parkey

Landing a job as an actor on a hit television show definitely has its perks. However, filming said show often comes with a lot of long hours and a grueling schedule. Just asked “Law & Order” star Chris Meloni.

The popular actor talked about this during an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air. The interview originally aired in 2019, then was back on the radio in April 2021. As fans are aware, Meloni starred in “Law & Order: SVU” for 12 years as the character of Elliot Stabler. He left that show in 2011.

He was away for a decade, then went back to the “Law & Order” franchise for the series “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”

According to what Meloni told NPR, it took the cast and crew of “SVU” more than one week to film one episode. And, once one episode was complete, they moved on to another the following day.

“And you know, you’re doing these scripts back to back, and it would take eight days to do an episode,” the actor said of the “Law & Order: SVU” filming schedule. “So you know, you start on Monday, and the following Wednesday you finish. And Thursday, you have your new script.”

Also, filming the popular drama lasted for most of the year.

“And this continues for nine months,” Meloni said of the schedule.

This intense work schedule – and the subject matter the show often dealt with – took its toll on the cast and crew, the actor said.

“And after about four or five months, you’re more liquid than solid,” the “Law & Order” star also said. “It just – you know, the horrors just keep coming and coming. And invariably, you know, it was the women – our women writers who would write the toughest scripts. They pulled no punches. And I think the guys would feel intimidated or something. But the women …”

‘Law & Order’ Star Chris Meloni Praised the Real-Life SVU Detectives

While filming “Law & Order” could be a stressful and tiring experience, actor Chris Meloni was well aware that the men and women who investigate crimes similar to the ones portrayed on his television show are under much more stress. He also described them as “heroic.”

“… let me just say, the real SVU detectives – ’cause we toured their facilities and we got to speak with them – boy, they’re really heroic,” Meloni said during the interview.

What he learned on that tour was an eye-opening experience. And, it influenced him to do all he could to offer a true portrayal of their job.

“And they would tell us a few stories that – you know, you just – you can’t believe it,” Chris Meloni said. “It’s – there are moments of true horror out there that these civil servants try to take care of. Boy, they’re the heroes. So, having said that, we took our role seriously. You know, it became less of a job and more of a – I wouldn’t say a crusade or a – something larger than ourselves. I’ll say that.”