‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Star Christopher Meloni Reveals How His ‘Mindset’ Changed With Big Break in Career

by Suzanne Halliburton

Christopher Meloni, who stars in Law & Order: Organized Crime, realized a dream few ever accomplished.

So he turned philosophical about it. That’s what happens when you turn 60. You’re still a top TV draw and wanted for covers of magazines like Men’s Health. Looking back is meaningful and not as painful.

“When my career started to happen, I could feel it,” Meloni told Men’s Health. “But I didn’t want to trust it, because I had struggled for so long—or at least it felt like I’d struggled for so long—and I didn’t want it to go away. I don’t know how many people get this opportunity to dream a dream and have it come to fruition. Because everyone does the first part, but to have it come to fruition then starts a whole other journey of Now what? And What is this? And How do you manage?

Meloni first gained attention when he first played Eliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU. He spent 12 years with the show, but then got into a protracted contract negotiation with NBC. He said the network wouldn’t offer higher than a certain amount, so he offered to take the money, but appear in fewer episodes. NBC said no and wrote him out of the show.

Even After Contract Dispute, NBC Cast Meloni for Law & Order: Organized Crime

Yet a decade later, NBC tapped him for Law & Order: Organized Crime, reviving Stabler, but for a different Law & Order franchise. The show is in production for season two. And Meloni is on top of the TV world again. He is experiencing what happens when you move on from your dreams, then pick them up again.

This doesn’t fall under the category of burden or anything like that,” the Law & Order: Organized Crime star said. “It’s just a new world. You’re so used to the old way of: ‘I have to keep this mindset’ and ‘I’ll just dream a dream.’ But if the dream actually happens, then you’re like, ‘Okay, now we have to manage the dream. We have to . . . what do we do, actually?’”

Meloni really hit it big when he played Chris Keller on the HBO prison drama, Oz. By then, he was in his late 30s. From there, he took the role of Stabler. He worked alongside Mariska Hargitay. who still portrays Olivia Benson, until he was 50.

In the decade between Law & Order franchises, he took on roles with HBO’s True Blood and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

And now he’s back for more on Law & Order: Organized Crime.

“This time around with the ‘Law & Order’ ride, I’m not stressed by: Will it go well? Will it not go well,” Meloni said. “Not that I know how it’s going to go. Just that, eh, just ride. Just do, just be.”