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Law & Order: SVU Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

This is a transcript of an interview with star Dann Florek and guest stars Dan Lauria and Mechad Brooks on September 26, 2011 about the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Question:
Dan Lauria, for the coaching side of the role how much did you draw upon from your days as a football coach?

Dan Lauria:
played a lot of coaches. I just finished playing Lombardi on Broadway for nine months. So, I really didn't have to draw that much. I'm actually not much of a basketball player but we had, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh there on the set. They were kind of giving me some pointers. So it was actually kind of fun to meet those guys.

Question:
Mechad, what was it like to play this character as compared to TK?

Mechad Brooks:
I mean Prince Miller is antithetical to TK. And, I think one guy has bravado based on inexperience and that's TK and Prince is definitely, he's become this person because of the experiences in his past. It was a nice change of pace and I think in a lot of ways more important than TK.

Question:
Dann Florek, what was it like to have Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony on set?

Dann Florek:
I only got to meet them very briefly but it was kind of humbling in a lot of ways because the crew and all of the Ads and everybody was telling me we all kind of disappeared when they showed up on set. There were lines to get their autographs and to talk to the ballers. So it was pretty cool for everybody actually. We were kind of like kids too.

Question:
What is it about acting that is gratifying to you and in your particular roles in this show?

Dan Lauria:
Well it beats working.

Dann Florek:
I'll tell you what, I think this specific episode it's kind of part and partial of it all. I mean we get to touch base with a lot of people we might not have. We get to experience worlds we might not really ever get to go to. And like this I mean I got to reconnect with a buddy, Dan Lauria who I first met over 30 years ago. Meet new people like Mechad and then, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and jump into a world that was very new.

Dan Lauria:
We were child actors.

Dann Florek:
I was pre-teen and, and like Dan said it's pretty good. I'm too lazy to work and too nervous to steal. So that's part of it too.

Mechad Brooks:
I'd have to say that, I'm a big kid in a lot of ways and I'm not childish but I'm child-like and this is the type of job where you can really flourish as being that. And, like the gentlemen are saying, you can't bring that attribute anywhere else and have it applauded. You can't be at Starbucks, flipping cups and spilling people's drinks and getting a raise. So yes, it beats working.

Dan Lauria:
Also I think this episode shows you what television can be. I mean it doesn't have to be just entertainment or mindless reality shows. It's a show about something, it makes people aware, it's actually going to help children. I have a feeling once it's aired a lot of young people are going to step forward and, reveal the same kind of conflict in their own lives. So it's an important episode.

Dann Florek:
I agree with that and one last thing, I think that's something SVU has done from the very beginning. First and foremost in entertainment but I think we always have been trying to shine a light in dark places. And I think this episode in particular does that and still does it in a very entertaining and moving way.

Dan Lauria:
Yes we were very lucky Dan that we've both been on shows that, have, that have a quality to it and it actually tries to help people.

Question:
How close is everyone on the set?

Dann Florek:
Starting my 13th year on the show and I will say truthfully that it's probably been the closest group of people I've ever worked with. And to do it for such an extended period I think is pretty extraordinary. But I think the other fellows can talk to how we're starting this year with a couple of new key players and some new crew people, a new show runner. And I think they kind of felt welcome right from the start. It's kind of built in.

Dan Lauria:
That's exactly what Tony said to me just what you were saying, how welcomed he was on the set. And this my second time around and like you said from the beginning Danny, you couldn't work with better people. They're so nice.

Mechad Brooks:
Yes they really are. And that's precisely what Danny Pino said to me as well, he just felt so welcome, he felt like he was always there. It was as if it was a home away from home. And I've rarely experienced, being a guest on a set like that. So it was amazing. It was, it was very welcoming, very welcoming.

Question:
Among all the A.D.A.s you had on the show if you guys were to work with anybody again and for them to stay permanently on the show, like who would it be?

Dan Lauria:
I'm sure I'm going to work with Dann Florek again. So we've known each other a long time. I can't wait to do a play with him.

Dann Florek:
That said and I'll play an A.D.A. in a play with Dan Lauria. But I'll tell you this, I've liked all of them but I mean that if I had to name a name I guess Stephanie March and Diane Neal and they're both back this season. So it's kind of cool that some favorites that I thought were gone are back again.

Question:
Dann Florek, there's a lot of guest stars on, the show coming up. If you could pick anybody to work with to guest star on the show, who would it be?

Dan Lauria:
Sophia Loren.

Dann Florek:
Robert Duvall is kind of a favorite if we could ever get him around or Gene Hackman. I think he quit acting. But in an odd twist for a minute what I would say is rest in peace, John Ritter. I think he was one of the best guest stars we ever had. And that was kind of a very sad situation but it would have been amazing to have him back. Other than that I mean, there's such a list. I can just kind of watch a movie or turn on a TV show and take my picks. But if we could get Robert Duvall or Gene Hackman I would do back flips.

Question:
Dan Lauria and Mechad Brooks, what attracted you to these particular roles for this episode that made you actually want to do it?

Mechad Brooks:
First of all, when Law and Order calls you say yes. I was very blessed in that the nature of this character and, it's something that's not really touched on. It's something that's not really brought to light and the way that Brian, the writer described to me when we had a creative conversation was that it was really important to him and it was really important that we told the story with respect, we told the story with care and we told the story realistically.

And I've known some people who've been sexually molested and it was a blessing to me and also important to me that I was able to do this. So for me it was just the nature of the story and the care that Brian wanted to take with it in telling it and the combination of that and Law and Order and having growing up watching the show and just really wanting to be a part of it. So, it was a perfect storm for me.

Dan Lauria:
For me it was, this is my seventh Law and Order that I've done so whenever Dick Wolf calls and it's never an audition it's would you do the show? I go because I know it's going to be of the best quality. And I know the people on the show like Dann Florek and that end so it's great to see old friends again. And the issue was so important that, I just enjoyed doing it.

Question:
Dann Florek, how was it to shoot this season without Chris Meloni?

Dann Florek:
I'll answer it in two parts. I wouldn't have traded the first 12 season for anything and I think Chris is terrific and very possibly one of the best, if not the best actors working in television and he's also a dear friend. But to start this season going in not really knowing what might happen, the transition has been relatively seamless and we have our, the rest of our cast intact. We have two new, incredible people, Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish who have just folded in an unbelievable way we have. There is so much new about the show this year, it's kind of everything old is new again, we kind of blew it up and put it back together. And as much as I loved working with Chris, I feel like we really haven't missed a step in kind of picking it up and carrying it forward.

Question:
Do you feel that television today offers more interesting projects than movies?

Dann Florek:
Well you know what? Here's what I will tell you, I do see a lot of movies kind of being genre films or remakes or, number 3, 4, 5 or 6. I take no exception with that. They're entertaining. I happen to be a fan of the smaller films but what I do think is happening is I think a lot of the best writers are moving over to television. And you're finding people that only worked in film for a long time and I think they felt boxed in a little bit too.

So we're getting major award winning people from production in writing who are wanting to do television. And I think also with the advent with all of the product that's on cable it's been pushing the envelope for the networks too. And so I think there is stuff that is way more interesting and edgier and out of the box. I think that's a very attractive thing for all of us as actors.

Dan Lauria:
I agree with you Danny especially about the cable pushing the envelope that's where the real writers want to go now because, the Hollywood system is, whatever was hot last year, let's do four more of them this year. I mean there are still great films out there, some wonderful work but I think on television it gives you a chance to really develop characters and push that envelope a little bit more than film does.

Mechad Brooks:
I agree, well put.

Question:
Can you describe me how do you prepare each episode?

Dann Florek:
On a television series there are certain things that just kind of have to be set in place about schedule and when the script is ready and when you go into prep and things like that. But then what is different is the nature of each story, each episode and who the guest stars are and that always brings in a kind of new mix and a new energy. So we kind of have to start at the same place but I think each one kind of finds a life of its own. And, in some you rehearse more and some you kind of jump right in. The camera moves in different ways but I think the nature of the story is a big part of how we proceed each time.

Dan Lauria:
I think that's especially true for your show Dann because it's taken right from the news headlines. There's a lot of expectation about are we exploring the issue well enough? You know you bring life to things that people can only see in print. So I think that's an important aspect and the reason why your show's been on 13 years.

Dann Florek:
Right I think that's true and I think that each one is self-contained also. We don't have to worry about serializing it and, we can kind of jump in and deal with those issues.

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