‘Law & Order: SVU’: Christopher Meloni Began Acting Because He ‘Couldn’t Function in Normal Society’

by Jonathan Howard
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Although Chris Meloni is a household name now, that wasn’t always the case. The Law & Order: SVU actor got his acting start in the 1980s. Throughout a variety of one-off appearances and short-lived series, Meloni didn’t find his footing in the industry for quite some time. There are many roles Meloni has played. However, none are as well-known as Detective Stabler.

All the way back in 1988, the man who would play Detective Stabler for well over a decade, was a minor character in The Equalizer. The series ran for four years, but Meloni only appeared for a brief moment. As “Team Leader,” Meloni got his first taste at being on TV. While still struggling to find his footing in acting, Meloni would go on to appear in many Television shows and moves.

All the way back in 2014, Chris Meloni was asked by AV Club how he got into acting to start with, and the answer was a bit peculiar. The veteran actor laughed while saying, “I found I couldn’t function in normal society. So I had to find, I guess, a pretend world in which to inhabit.” It makes sense. Viewers watch movies and shows to escape from reality and immerse themselves in another world. Why wouldn’t actors do the same thing?

When it comes to acting, Meloni figures it best to escape to his fake worlds. “I figured I could be miserable in the real world or miserable in the fake world, so I chose to be miserable in the fake world.” When you know yourself, you know yourself, and Meloni seems to be comfortable in his own skin.

Law & Order: SVU Gave Chris Meloni His Career

Throughout the early 1990s, Chris Meloni bounced around from series to series. Nothing ever stuck very long, and as Meloni put it, he was struggling. However, even before Law & Order SVU, he had a role type. With his smoldering gaze, strong jaw-line, and athletic build, Meloni has acted in multiple roles as law enforcement, an athlete, military, or similar casting types.

When Meloni was just getting his start as Detective Elliot Stabler, he also starred in another beloved series. Over on HBO, Meloni played Chris Keller on Oz. The series detailed the events that occurred in an unusual prison. The series ran from 1998-2003. It was the 1999 debut of Law & Order: SVU that changed Meloni’s career and life forever. Although Meloni has taken breaks from the show between 1999 and now, Detective Elliot Stabler has always been a beloved character.

With the new season, fans have really been appreciating Chris Meloni. However, Meloni knows that his career took off largely thanks to SVU. Although the series found early success, it took a few years for Meloni to realize he was going to make a living acting.

“I think the fifth year in SVU. That’s when I thought, ‘You know, I might have a shot at this.”

Now, over 20 years later, Meloni is still an actor and has made quite the career for himself.

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