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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Stephanie March

This is an interview with Linus Roache and Stephanie March on September 19, 2011 about the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Question:
How many episodes are you both doing and can you talk about the changes this season?

Stephanie March:
I am certainly doing five episodes and as far as the changes this season we have a few new characters and a new team of writers so it has a familiar feel but it's invigorated with a lot of good, new blood. It's been a wonderful place to work so far.

Linus Roache:
As far as I know, I'm doing four episodes and likewise with what Stephanie is saying, it feels like things are being mixed up in a very creative way and there's some interesting crosspollination going on. So I wouldn't be surprised if we also see a lot of other characters from the past appearing through this season and making the most of all the much loved characters from the Law & Order franchise.

Question:
I heard that people have been kind of coining the term SVU 2.0. What makes this season different than the other seasons?

Linus Roache:
I think we're going to find out over time. I don't have the ultimate answer. I think Warren Light would give you probably the best answer to that question. But my sense is that the show is evolving very nicely, bringing in some more dynamic characters with Danny Pino and Kelli playing the other detective. So we've got new blood bringing old blood back into new situations. For example, my character's not just coming back as an executive ADA. He's got an extra responsibility.

So I think there's a sense of how the show is moving into new territory with the characters but I think what will stay the same is the emotional strength of the piece and I was thinking over the weekend that I suddenly realized that of the three Law & Order shows, that the mothership was like the moral philosophical show that dealt with the moral issues of the law often and Criminal Intent was dealing with the psychological. And SVU has really been very powerful because it stays very true to the emotional and I think that will continue to be its hook for the audience.

Stephanie March:
I don't think we know exactly how the whole season is going to unfold but it does feel like a leaner, faster machine which is a great thing to be a part of.

Question:
Danny and Kelli are new to the cast and it's a really suspenseful like dramatic type of show. So have you offered them any advice or any pointers for kind of adapting to that type of atmosphere?

Linus Roache:
Personally, no. They just look like they're great actors and they know what they're doing.

Stephanie March:
There's not much advice to give to people who are already so great at what they do. Just try not to forget the online password because it changes all the time. You can't use a computer at work if you do.

Question:
Linus, you were on the mothership for a couple of year there. And is it true that you thought that there was going to be another year of the mothership show?

Linus Roache:
Yeah. We did at that time. You can never predict anything in this business as we all know. It's a very unpredictable thing. We definitely had a sense that we were going to be moving into the 21st season. I mean not only because it was going to be the record breaking season for the show. You know so we all were a bit surprised and there was a rumor going around that we kind of had it in the bag. So that just teaches you that you've never got it in the bag until it's actually happening.

Question:
For both of you, how did this come about?

Stephanie March:
For me it was the usual good fairy touching me on the shoulder and saying would you like to come back and have a little bit of a visit and I said sure.

Linus Roache:
Yeah. Yeah. Same with me. It was quite a surprise but it was a nice surprise. I thought when my agent called up and said they're interested in bringing you into SVU. I thought what, as a killer? As a murderer? You never know. But it was nice. And also why I was intrigued to do it as well was because I got a chance to take the character into a new dynamic as someone who's having to take more responsibility than he was before and he can't just be so cavalier. So there was a kind of interesting challenge as well as an actor to do something different with the role as well.

Question:
Can you tell me about your specific dynamic in the season premiere?

Linus Roache:
I'm really looking forward to working more with Steph. You know we've only just done one episode together but I'm really looking forward to doing more together but I really like the fact that suddenly I find myself on the other side of the desk telling someone who's very passionate to do the right thing that maybe they shouldn't do it but actually wanting them to do it. So I find myself standing where Jack McCoy was standing before a little bit and that was very interesting and I'm really looking forward to taking the dynamic further because I really love working with Stephanie so it's going to be fun to continue.

Stephanie March:
It's very mutual and I should tell you something about Linus. He knows his lines so well that he doesn't even bring the pages to rehearsal. That's how professional Linus is. And working with Linus has been so much fun and it really is nice to revisit a familiar character in a new - working in a new capacity because you get to texture and layer a role that you've been working on for a long time with more authority, more passion, more politics. It's a real world application of what happens as people rise in the professional ranks and I really enjoy it. It makes a character that I have been working on for a long time, it adds a new dimension and I enjoy it.

Question:
This first episode of this new season, what can you tell us about it because I've heard that the writers had to rewrite some things on this story and stuff. So how have you been working on this episode?

Stephanie March:
We've been working on it the way we would probably work on any episode which is adapt to what we believe would be a better story, making our interactions with each other a little bit more nuanced but I would not say it changed dramatically. And we always tweak a storyline. Like as usual, the show will be a reflection of what is happening in the news but not exactly what is happening in the news and it will provide maybe an alternate perspective that I think the audience will find very interesting.

Linus Roache:
I think that's a great answer and I think that word at the end that Stephanie just used is actually these dramas. They're very valuable and the fact that they can reflect and give a different perspective on something that's actually happened is an important way I think of exploring the current situation within the law and how effective is it and how does it work.

So drama has actually quite an important role. I mean documentary has an important role but sometimes we get so as you empathize with people through drama and can appreciate maybe another perspective on the case that we haven't seen before just through the news but obviously ending up in the end with the caveat that this is fiction so we can explore whatever we want.

Question:
How do you think it's going to impact the fact that you are known as you. Is it going to run alone?

Linus Roache:
Well I'm kind of hoping that it pulls all the other audiences into the one show. That would be cool.

Stephanie March:
Yeah. Exactly. It would be great. It would be great if all the fans of the previous shows would find a new home in SVU.

Question:
Right now the show is going into the 13th season. What do you think has been the key of the success of the show?

Linus Roache:
I mentioned it earlier but what is the difference and why has this one been successful. And I think SVU is very visceral and emotional and there's a strong you know through Mariska's character, there's a strong identity with really getting into the hearts of what it's like to be a victim of these horrible crimes and how these people are fighting for justice. So I think there's something about the show that's kind of very visceral in that way and I think that's been part of its attraction. I don't know the answer that leads to its success but that seems to me to be part of it.

Stephanie March:
I would say that the Mariska character is such a draw and has so much empathy. The audience finds a voice through her and in her. I would also like to say that I think part of the genius of any of the Law & Order shows is and was our guest stars and we draw from some of the best people in the theatrical community in New York on camera and off I should say and they do such a wonderful job with these really meaty, juicy roles. I think we owe a lot of our success to their performances.

Linus Roache:
That's a great point Stephanie. And I think also just to add to that and then it made me think that the writing on all the Law & Order shows has been incredibly strong and if you look at the pace of any of the shows, they probably have more scenes in them than most television shows. So you get a lot of content. There's a lot of plot. There's a lot driving each episode. It's always been the case and the writing's incredibly strong. It's very lean. It's not you're only seeing things that you need to see that move things forward and that's always been part of the whole franchise I think why they've been strong shows.

Question:
I noticed in the bios that came with our little tip sheet that Linus, you're going to be doing a new Titanic. So how is that differing from Cameron's Titanic?

Linus Roache:
What's the different between the Titanic that I did in Cameron? Probably about $140 million. But I have to say even though we didn't have all that money, what we did have was a pretty incredible set and an amazing cast and the main point of this particular show, it was written by Julian Fellowes. So the cross of all the different classes of people that were on the ship the Italians, the stewards, the whole thing. So it's a huge ensemble piece and that's what will be different about it. And it's four parts with different perspectives each night.

Question:
And your character is what?

Linus Roache:
I play Lord Mantum I couldn't be further away from Michael Cutter if I tried. An English Lord; an entitled Lord in 1912 who that was towards the end of that period before the fall of the British Empire really. So yeah. A good man but a very highly privileged man.

Question:
Stephanie, can you talk about the Predisposed part and what that premise is?

Stephanie March:
Predisposed is a day in the life and it's staring primarily Jesse Eisenberg and Melissa Leo and she's a mother addicted to drugs who is an artist and her son is a burgeoning artist and he finds himself maybe a bit predisposed to addiction as well. They go on this crazy road trip to try and procure a bunch of drugs. They meet Tracy Morgan who is the drug pusher who is hilarious and then they stop off at Trish, and Melissa Leo plays Trish, rather she plays a mother. They stop off at her sister's house. I play her baby sister and we have an all out family, knock-down drag out day of a war.

It was really fun to do. I mean I've never had so much fun yelling in my whole life plus working with Jesse and Melissa. They're two of the nicest, most polite, most professional terrific people and our director is about 19. So I mean he's not. But I mean he's so young and this is his first big project and he's just fantastic. Phil Dorling is his name and I look forward to working with him a lot more.

I think it's in the festival circuit right now so I suspect it will be shopped around. Well they're probably editing now. I think it's going to be shopped around over the holidays. I think we'll see it in the Spring. It's going to get picked up. There's no way it won't. Not because of me.

Question:
I have one last thing to ask you. Do you do any of the cooking at home?

Stephanie March:
No way. I outsource it.

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