Det. Olivia Benson
Emmy Award winner Mariska Hargitay stars as Olivia Benson, a dedicated and emotionally driven detective on Wolf Films/Universal Television’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," now in its fifteenth season.
In 2011, Hargitay garnered her eighth Emmy nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and won the 2006 Emmy for that category. Also in 2011, she received her sixth SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Detective Benson. In 2009, Hargitay earned her second Golden Globe nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the role, winning the award in 2005. She’s also received two Gracie Allen Awards for American Women in Radio and Television.
"It’s gratifying to play such a complex character. Olivia is not only an accomplished, street-smart cop, she’s also an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism," says Hargitay.
Committed to ending violence and abuse and caring for those who have survived it, Hargitay spends as much time off screen dealing with these crimes as she does on set as Detective Olivia Benson. Inspired by her role on “SVU,” Hargitay created the Joyful Heart Foundation, whose mission is to heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. Since its inception in 2004, Joyful Heart has directly served over 13,500 individuals through its unique Healing & Wellness programs; connected over 1.5 million individuals through its website, blogs and social media efforts to resources and life-saving help; secured more than one billion impressions in digital and print media about the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse; and effected policy changes in jurisdictions from New York to California. "Joyful Heart is about the courage to heal, and our programming is dedicated to honoring that brave decision,” explains Hargitay.
Through Joyful Heart, Hargitay has used her voice to bring attention, funding, and new legislation to critical issues facing sexual and family violence survivors, working with the medical community, the criminal justice system and law enforcement. She testified before Congress urging lawmakers to address the backlog of untested rape kits in the U.S., and launched www.endthebacklog.org, the first website dedicated to addressing this issue. Hargitay recently made her directorial debut with a groundbreaking celebrity-driven PSA campaign for NO MORE (www.NOMORE.org), the nation’s first unifying symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault.
Hargitay has also lent her time and voice to other organizations such as Lee National Denim Day, Autism Speaks, The Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center, The Santa Monica Rape Crisis Center, Project ALS, The James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness (JRI), Safe Horizon and the Venice Family Clinic. She has also appeared in national campaigns for NBC’s "The More You Know" and Got Milk.
Prior to “SVU,” Hargitay starred on NBC’s "ER" as Dr. Greene's (Anthony Edwards) girlfriend Cynthia Hooper. She gained notice as a cast regular in the sitcom "Can't Hurry Love" with Nancy McKeon and starred in the NBC drama, "Prince Street." Other television credits include "Seinfeld," "Ellen," "Thirtysomething," and David Lynch's "Hotel Room." Hargitay also appeared in the telefilms "The Advocate's Devil" and "Night Sins," as well as the Lifetime movie "Plain Truth." Her film credits include appearances in the critically acclaimed "Leaving Las Vegas" and in Mike Myers' "The Love Guru."
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She lives in New York with her husband, actor Peter Hermann, and their three children. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mariska.
Capt. Donald Cragen
Dann Florek stars as the pragmatic Captain Donald Cragen on NBC’s critically-acclaimed “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Before his 15 seasons on “SVU,” Florek originated the role during the first three seasons of "Law & Order."
Raised in Flat Rock, Michigan, Florek entered Eastern Michigan University as a math and physics major but left with a newfound interest in drama. "I really thought I was going to be a math/physics person, but I was in choir, and they offered me a scholarship in drama," says Florek. "I thought, hey, maybe it'll be more fun than synthetic projective geometry."
Florek went on to join the prestigious Acting Company at the Juilliard School in New York City. His professional theater work includes "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Love's Labour’s Lost," "Strange Snow," and "Death of a Salesman." Later, he headed west to San Diego, where he participated in many La Jolla Playhouse and Old Globe Theatre productions, most notably as The Duke in "Big River," and as Teach in The Old Globe's award-winning production of "American Buffalo."
Florek gained attention for his portrayal of direct-marketing whiz Dave Meyer on the Emmy Award-winning "L.A. Law." His additional television credits include guest-starring roles on NBC's "Wings" and "The Pretender," as well as "The Practice," "NYPD Blue," "Roseanne," "Ellen," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and "Smart Guy." Florek also appeared in the telefilms "The Pentagon Wars" and the Emmy Award-winning "From the Earth to the Moon."
Florek has appeared in such feature films as Paul Mazursky's "Moon Over Parador," Blake Edward's "Sunset," Alan Parker’s "Angel Heart," Alan Alda’s "Sweet Liberty," "The Flintstones," "Hard Rain," "Beautiful Joe" and "Santorini Blue." Florek also appeared in his first music video with the rock band Eve to Adam for their song "Run Your Mouth," from the album Banquet for a Starving Dog.
An aspiring guitarist and avid golfer, Florek and his wife, Karen, an artist, divide their time between Los Angeles and New York.
Det. John Munch
Richard Belzer stars as the acerbic Sergeant John Munch on Wolf Films/ Universal Television’s "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Before his 15 seasons on “SVU,” he portrayed Munch on NBC's critically acclaimed drama series "Homicide: Life on the Street" for seven years.
"This is one conspiracy in which I have been a willing participant," says Belzer, a renowned conspiracy theorist, of his 21-year crossover portrayal of Munch. In fact, Belzer has played Munch on a world record-setting 10 different television series: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law and Order: Trial By Jury," "Homicide," "The X-Files," "The Beat," "Sesame Street," "The Wire," "Arrested Development," and "30 Rock," as well as “Homicide: The Movie.”
The veteran standup comic, actor and author was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Due to his "uncontrollable wit," Belzer was thrown out of every school he ever attended. Prior to his career in showbiz, Belzer worked as a teacher, census-taker, jewelry salesman, dockworker and a reporter for the Bridgeport Post.
After cutting his teeth on stage and as MC at New York’s legendary Catch a Rising Star, Belzer began his on-screen career with a starring role in the cult classic "Groove Tube.” His comedic talents have since been featured in every entertainment medium from off-Broadway ("The National Lampoon Show" with Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and John Belushi) to radio (Brink and Belzer on WNBC) to film ("Fame," "Author, Author," "Night Shift" and "Scarface"). For his first foray into the literary world, he co-authored "How to Be a Standup Comic" with future "Borat" director and writer, Larry Charles, and Catch a Rising Star owner Rick Newman.
Belzer also appeared as himself as the MC at "Catch" in the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon." Other film credits include "Species II," "Get on the Bus," "Girl 6," "A Very Brady Sequel," "North," "The Bonfire of the Vanities" "The Big Picture," "Polish Bar” and “Santorini Blue.” In 1997, Belzer starred in his first HBO comedy special, "Another Lone Nut," and released a comedy CD of the same title. He hosted the ABC primetime special "When Cars Attack," starred in the six-part Showtime comedy series "The Richard Belzer Show," and hosted the live Lifetime talk show "Hot Properties" and Court TV's "Crime Stories." He also narrated the Animal Planet special "The Uprising." He’ll soon star in the 2014 feature “Dallas in Wonderland.”
Belzer co-authored two books of a Noir-ish crime fiction series featuring Belzer himself as the mystery-solving protagonist - "I Am Not a Cop," and the sequel, "I Am Not a Psychic." A world-renowned conspiracy theorist, Belzer is the author of "UFOs, JFK and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe," a best-selling anthology considered to be a definitive tome of the genre. He subsequently hosted "The Belzer Connection," a series of prime time conspiracy-themed specials for Syfy.
More recently, he wrote two New York Times Bestsellers - “Hit List,” a non-fiction examination of some of the deaths surrounding the JFK assassination, and “Dead Wrong,” a non-fiction work detailing some of the most controversial and famous deaths and cover-ups the country has ever seen. His latest book, “Conversations with Jerry Lewis,” will be released in 2014.
Belzer hosts the popular YouTube series “Richard Belzer’s Conversation,” featuring in-depth and inspiring conversations with influential actors, writers, filmmakers and musicians.
When he’s not working in the U.S., Belzer lives with his wife, actress Harlee McBride, in the south of France. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRbelzer
Detective Amanda Rollins
Kelli Giddish stars as Detective Amanda Rollins in NBC’s critically-acclaimed series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," now in its fifteenth season.
Born and raised in Cumming, Ga., Giddish began acting at an early age and was a staple in her high school's theatre department. Additionally, Giddish was an all-star athlete and member of the school’s championship winning softball team. Giddish attended the University of Evansville in Indiana, where, as a senior, she was an Irene Ryan Award finalist and was thus selected to perform at the Kennedy Center. She graduated with honors with a degree in performance arts.
Upon her move to New York, Giddish quickly gained work as an actress appearing in Matt Smart's "Shoes," "Bobbi Boland," opposite Farrah Fawcett, and in her self-written one-woman show "Dropsy." In 2005, she made her small screen debut on "All My Children." During this time, she starred in the critically acclaimed online series "The Burg" and made a guest appearance on "Law & Order: SVU." In 2007, Giddish played a supporting lead role in David Connolly’s independent feature “The Understudy.” Later that year, she made a guest appearance on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," had a recurring role on "Damages" and appeared in Boaz Yakin's feature film "Death in Love" opposite Josh Lucas and Jacqueline Bissett.
Giddish starred in NBC’s "Chase" and Fox’s "Past Life," and had memorable guest appearances on "Life on Mars,” "Without a Trace” and a popular multi-episode arc CBS’ Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody recognized series "The Good Wife.” She recently starred in the dark comedy feature film “Breathless” with Gina Gershon, Wayne Duvall, Ray Liotta and Val Kilmer.
Giddish currently divides her time between New York and Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheKelliGiddish
Detective Nick Amaro
Danny Pino stars as Detective Nick Amaro in NBC’s critically-acclaimed series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," now in its fifteenth season.
Pino is a versatile actor who has enjoyed success in film, theater and television. Most recently, he starred in the thriller "The Exodus of Charlie Wright" opposite Aidan Quinn and Andy Garcia, "Across The Hall," for Universal and Guillermo Arriaga’s directing debut, "The Burning Plain," an ensemble drama featuring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger, and guest starred on USA Network’s hit series “Burn Notice.”
Pino has portrayed a wide range of characters, from the sociopath Armadillo Quintero on the acclaimed series "The Shield," a Wyoming horse-wrangler in the feature film "Flicka," to the iconic Desi Arnaz in "Lucy," a bio-pic focusing on the tumultuous lives of Lucille Ball and Arnaz. He is perhaps best known for his seven seasons starring as the laconic Detective Scotty Valens on the Warner Brothers’ series "Cold Case."
In theater, Pino starred in "Up For Grabs" opposite Madonna on London’s West End, opposite Billy Crudup in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of "Measure For Measure" directed by Mary Zimmerman, and "The Winter’s Tale" directed by Brian Kulick. Recently he starred in the Miami production of "Havana Bourgeois" at the Actor's Playhouse.
Pino was born and raised in Miami. He attended New York University’s Tisch Graduate Acting Program where he earned an M.F.A. He currently lives in New York with his wife and family. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheDannyPino
ADA Rafael Barba
Raúl Esparza joins the critically-acclaimed NBC/Universal Television series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as the clever and fast-moving ADA Rafael Barba.
A star of stage and screen, Esparza is only the second actor to receive Tony nominations in all four eligible acting categories.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Miami, Florida, Esparza studied at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He first drew attention with his performance as Riff Raff in the 2000 Broadway revival of “The Rocky Horror Show,” which won him the Theatre World Award. The following year he appeared off-Broadway in “tick, tick... BOOM!,” garnering a Drama Desk Award nomination as Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
Esparza is a four-time Tony Award nominee and was recognized by the Drama Desk awards six times, including wins in 2004 (“Taboo”), 2007 (Sondheim’s “Company”), and 2008 (“The Homecoming”). Other Broadway credits include “Cabaret,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Speed-the-Plow,” “Arcadia” and most recently, “Leap of Faith,” written by “SVU” executive producer Warren Leight and directed by Christopher Ashley.
Esparza made his film debut in 2006 in Sidney Lumet's “Find Me Guilty.” Other films include Wes Craven's “My Soul to Take” and “Trouble in the Heights.” His television credits include "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," “A Gifted Man,” “666 Park Avenue,” “Hannibal” and a recurring role on ABC’s "Pushing Daisies.”
Esparza resides in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RaulEEsparza
Det. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola
Ice-T returns for his 15th season on NBC's "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" as Detective Fin Tutuola. This is his fourth project with executive producer Dick Wolf after the 1997-98 series "Players," NBC's "Exiled: A Law & Order Movie," and several memorable guest-starring appearances on Wolf's gritty cop series "New York Undercover."
Through his music, his books and his college lecture tours (including Harvard, Princeton and Stanford), Ice-T has become a cultural icon recognized the world over.
Born in New Jersey, Ice-T quickly learned the art of survival. As an only child whose parents died when he was very young, Ice-T became involved in Los Angeles gangs before spending four years in the army. His first break came when the producers of the film "Breakin'" asked him to rap in the movie. He went on to become rap music's original gangster, writing songs like "Six in the Mornin'" and "New Jack Hustler."
Ice-T formed Rhyme Syndicate Records in 1989 and released a string of groundbreaking West Coast rap records. He subsequently formed the thrash metal band Body Count with close high school friend and guitarist Ernie C. Body Count's 1991 self-titled debut contained the controversial single "Cop Killer." Body Count was the most critically acclaimed act on the highly successful 1991 Lollapalooza tour, and continued to tour worldwide. Ice-T received a Grammy Award and was voted Best Male Rapper in Rolling Stone's 1992 Readers Poll.
As his politics were grabbing headlines, Ice-T's film and television career was taking off. The controversial personality secured roles in "New Jack City," "Ricochet," "Trespass," and "Johnny Mnemonic," all while building a flourishing television career. He has numerous independent and documentary film roles to his credit, and most recently starred in the popular E! reality series “Ice Loves Coco.”
As an artist, his reach has crossed from music into film and television, and interactive media. He recently directed the critically acclaimed documentary "Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap," which features interviews with some of the greatest rappers of all time and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He produced “The Peacemaker,” a reality show for A&E centered on gang mediator Malik Spellman, and the documentary “Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp,” which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. A passionate gamer, Ice-T voiced the character of Griffin in the Xbox360 game "Gears of War 3.”
As an author, Ice-T wrote “The Ice Opinion” in 1994 and his widely acclaimed 2011 memoir, “Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption - from South Central to Hollywood." In May he published “Mirror Image,” the a sequel to his 2012 novel “Kings of Vice.”
Ice-T resides in New Jersey with his wife, Coco and their dogs, Spartacus and Maximus. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FINALLEVEL
# # #
Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.
Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.