Which Law & Order labeled their exit “my worst moment”? Actor Chris Noth told the Chicago Tribune about how he left the hit crime procedural. He starred in the show as Detective Mike Logan between Seasons 1-5 in 1990 through 1995. Noth also starred in Law & Order: Criminal Intent for 36 episodes between 2005 and 2008.
He told the outlet that his contract was coming up at the end of 1995. The actor requested a raise and planned to negotiate this.
“I was getting pretty well known in this particular part — or at least that’s how I felt — and it was like, well, I’m due a raise. Enough of this nonsense of being taken for granted, so to speak,” he explained.
At the time, he recently came out of Yale studying drama and ended up landing the series regular role on the show.
“It was a very, very high testosterone show; I don’t know if people remember, but it was all guys in the beginning. And it was so rare to have a TV show shoot in New York, it was just a gift from the gods. So I rode on the ether of that for a few years,” he said.
“And then it starts to settle in that, ah geez, this is what it is: Dun-dun,” he said with a chuckle. “I must say, those first years it wasn’t defined yet, but by the fifth year it got codified. That’s when I started to get bored and the magic sort of wore off.”
The Big ‘Law & Order’ Decision
The show’s producer Ed Sherin asked him to lunch. He thought that this was for the negotiation.
“We go to this restaurant and he sits down and goes, ‘So, we’re gonna fire you.’ (Long laugh) I was about to order the biggest steak and before I could make the order, he goes, ‘We’re not asking you back,'” he recalled.
The reason was that Jerry Orbach, who played Lenny Briscoe, kind of canceled each other’s character out. Both had the same way of examining a crime scene and the same overall energy and sarcasm.
“I was thinking: Are you (freaking) kidding me? It’s not even a negotiation? You’re going to fire me before I quit? How dare you,” he joked.
“In that moment I was completely surprised because I was like, I’m not that expendable! They need me! I have value! So it was like, holy (crap),” the Law & Order star said. “But what made me not totally be a wreck about it was that I already had one foot out the door. So I was also a little relieved. I was used to a fuller experience of acting and this had become rote for me.”