“Law & Order” star Chris Meloni has learned a few lessons in his 20+ years of playing Detective Elliott Stabler. Mainly, he’s learned how to better manage the anxiety that used to keep him up at night.
Meloni recently appeared on the cover of Men’s Health to talk about his fitness and acting journeys. The 60-year-old became ripped over the last few years as he pushed his body to new limits. He sat down with Men’s Health to go over his workout routine and history as an actor.
Meloni started on “Law & Order: SVU” in 1999 but left after 11 seasons due to contract issues with NBC. Then last year, “Law & Order” showrunners reached out to Meloni about starring as Stabler in his own spin-off series.
When Men’s Health asked him what made him decide to come back to the network, he said, “It felt good to have to make that decision—which was a big yes-or-no decision—with a sense of clarity and a sense of certain things being correct.”
One of those things being Meloni’s perspective on life and where his acting fits into it. In the early seasons of “Law & Order: SVU,” Meloni told Men’s Health that he would experience frequent bouts of anxiety in the middle of the night. The magazine reports that “Meloni woke up in the middle of the night trembling uncontrollably. He got out of bed so that he wouldn’t wake [his wife] during what he thought might be his dying moments.”
After 10 years of unsuccessful auditions and rejections, Meloni felt overwhelmed by the degree of his success on “SVU.” But he’s managing his success better on “Law & Order: Organized Crime” — even though it’s the “12th most-watched TV show in America and the fifth most-watched scripted series.”
‘Law & Order: Organzied Crime’ Star Chris Meloni Focuses on ‘More Important Things’
After taking a 10-year hiatus from “Law & Order: SVU,” Meloni decided he was ready to return. But he told himself that focusing on the success of the show can’t be his primary objective.
“This time around with the ‘Law & Order’ ride, I’m not stressed by: Will it go well? Will it not go well? Not that I know how it’s going to go. Just that, eh, just ride. Just do, just be,” Meloni told Men’s Health.
He also realized that being a hugely successful actor isn’t the main thing he wants out of his life. It’s a lesson he could’ve used years ago when he was anxiously starting out on “SVU.”
“There are bigger things, more important things. I know how important this is to me, but I have a clearer vision of life,” Meloni said. “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.”
Meloni’s gifts are now being put to good use in season two of “Organized Crime.” The spin-off series will premiere Thursday, Sept. 23 on NBC.