Christopher Meloni remains very proud of his role on Law & Order: SVU as Detective Elliot Stabler, but he disagrees with the show’s diehard fans on one fundamental thing: Stabler and Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson definitely did not belong together, he says.
Meloni told James Lipton on Thursday’s episode of Inside the Actors Studio that while fans often pulled for a relationship to happen between their characters, the show’s cast and crew “always knew it would have been the death knell of that relationship.”
We “needed to keep that line taut but very clear,” Meloni said. “Keep the tension — never cross it.”
He added that he admired his co-star Hargitay, who was the first to point out to him that they were the parents of the show. “I’m the guy who will right the wrong and she’s the one who will nurture,” he said, adding that a romance would have ruined that dynamic.
The actor has also starred in Oz, True Blood and Wet Hot American Summer and now appears on WGN America’s Underground. In Thursday’s episode, Meloni shared with Lipton how hard it was to play both Stabler and Oz inmate Chris Keller simultaneously.
“I knew I was the luckiest actor in New York City,” Meloni said. “To be a working actor in New York City is good enough, to have a steady gig in New York City is a dream come true. To have two, which are awesome shows — forget about it.”
“It wasn’t easy,” said Meloni. “For about two or three years, I would wake up at 4:30 a.m., get in the van at 6 a.m., drive to Oz, kill people and sodomize them until about noon, jump in the car, go to SVU and go arrest people who murder and sodomize people until about 2 a.m.”
When Lipton asked what motivated Keller to kill in the show, Meloni joked, “I think he was framed.”
Lipton also went back into Meloni’s background, talking about how he knew he wanted to be an actor. In 1984, Meloni told Lipton, he “didn’t know what I was going to do, so I called up a high school friend. He said he’s going to New York to study acting. And that was it, I went, ‘Oh my god, so am I!'”
Throughout the hourlong interview, Meloni opened up to Lipton about his insecurities, his biggest regret (he never played college football), flying planes with John Travolta and his proudest moment: “peeing in a bucket” on Oz. Watch a clip below.
Watch more clips of Meloni’s episode on Bravo.com.