‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Star Chris Meloni Struggled With His Feelings After ‘SVU’ Casting

by Kati Kuuseoks
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Between the covers of Men’s Health magazine and all the petitions to name him “People’s Sexiest Man Alive,” it’s hard to picture Chris Meloni as anything but confident. While he has admitted to being “tightly wound” on set before, Meloni now goes into the darker details of a period of deep struggle. Although his initial departure from “Law & Order: SVU” devastated fellow castmates like Mariska Hargitay, Meloni did what he needed to do at the time to preserve his sanity. Mental health is an important topic and it’s nice to see someone of Meloni’s status staying candid about his struggles.

Chris Meloni’s Imposter Syndrome

Meloni actually struggled with anxiety at the very start of his career. He did not know how to convince himself that he deserved recognition for his acting. Others may be familiar with these feelings and a so-called “imposter syndrome.” Meloni talked to Men’s Health about struggling to accept success: “When my career started to happen, I could feel it. 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?

Then Came the Night Terrors

As fans know, “Law & Order” deals with a lot of dark topics. The series doesn’t shy away from anything taboo and tackles things head-on. Meloni struggled a lot with the heavy content of “Law & Order: SVU” while also trying to cope with its success and his paralyzing fear of failure. After a full schedule of filming, Meloni’s nerves would be completely shot. The anxiety was crippling at one point and started to affect his whole life. In the same Men’s Health interview as mentioned above, Meloni mentioned he would even wake up in the middle of the night trembling sometimes. This was the last straw and pushed Meloni to seek help.

Getting Back on the Horse

Now that Meloni’s character Stabler has his own “Law & Order” spinoff series, Meloni reflects on his experiences. He also finds gratitude for the better mental space he is in today. His show is currently the 12th most-watched TV show in America and the fifth most-watched scripted series. In other words, there isn’t much to worry about in terms of success. Meloni is clearly able to be more present in his character and self as he describes his outlook:

“There are bigger things, more important things. I know how important this is to me, but I have a clearer vision of life. I know a little more about love. I know a little more about real pain. I know about joy. I know better management skills. As you go through life, you get a clearer understanding of things, of your holes and of your gifts.”

Outsider.com