Christopher Noth and Alicia Witt Talk Law and Order: Criminal Intent
Two of the show's stars talk about this episode, the show itself and Sex and the City
Law & Order: Criminal Intent will be airing a new, particularly emotional episode on December 13 on the USA Network entitled Senseless. This is one of the most powerful episodes of the year, and there was a conference call recently to promote this episode, with stars Chris Noth and Andrea Witt. Here are the highlights of the call.
Alicia, how has it been coming into the show as the new kid on the block?
Alicia Witt: It's been really great. I felt like I kind of have the most amazing view doing this, because it had all the benefits of coming into a show that was already running very smoothly after being on for seven years. The glitches that you might have with a new show weren't going to happen, but I also felt like it was so fun to come into it and be feeling everybody out, and coming into a situation where there were established relationships with the characters that existed, and just be somebody new. I kind of made an effort myself to not overly familiarize myself with the idiosyncracies of Logan, in particular, so that I would be coming in as Falacci was, with completely fresh eyes. It's been great. I've had a complete blast doing it.
Chris, how has it been balancing the show and the Sex and the City: The Movie?
Chris Noth: Crazy. Crazy! It's completely two different sets. Although for a movie, I think they cover an enormous amount of ground. They might be doing 8 or 9 pages like we do, but they cover a lot. They're going at a rapid pace. It was a big challenge for me, because filming has its own sort of wearing and exhausting nature to it. Not just the hours, but the repetition. I don't know. You're so tired, you're like I am right now, I can't articulate (Laughs). You've got to get 8 hours of sleep. But it's a romantic comedy, and it's different in terms of timing and you're using a whole different set of instruments on it. It's kind of like two different families. It was fun to get back to each one of them.
I wonder if you can talk more specifically about this episode that is going to air? What your roles are and if it hit any emotional chords for either of you?
Alicia Witt: It's hugely emotional. At least in my limited experience, it's the most emotional episode that we've done. I think this episode is one where their really getting invested in a way that doesn't usually happen because they deal with this all the time. Obviously you feel something, and you wish the people you need to interrogate, that just lost a family member, didn't have to go through this, but you deal with it because it's part of the job. Not to say that we get jaded, but it's your work so you kind of need to put that aside. In this episode, it just hits a little too close. It's about the murder of these three college kids who were in gangs, weren't doing drugs, they were good kids.
Chris Noth: The title of the show kind of says it all, Senseless. We do what we do. We're trying to solve a crime and be objective and not get sucked into the tragedy, because it can get in your way if you do get sucked into it. But every once in a while, it hits you. There's a scene where the father of the young lady who's on life support, maybe she's gonna make it, and maybe she's not, and it turns out she doesn't make it. He asks us, 'Who would do such a thing?' and 'Why would somebody do this?' People feel like cops can protect them or solve it for them but really it's hard to answer that. It's hard to give them the answer that they want because we don't really have an answer for them. All we can do is try to find the guys that did it, put them away, and let them be a form of healing for them. For the family, their whole lives will be ruined by this one senseless event and there's not much you can do. 'We're sorry for your loss,' but those are just words. All we can do is face each day with a new set of clues and try to inch forward. And then when you finally do get the guy, or guys, often it's so... the reason they did it is like the title, Senseless, and you're left with a pretty empty feeling.
I've noticed in a couple of the spoilers for this episode, they explain that this episode takes an emotional tone on both of you. Can you just expand on how it's affecting your characters in the show?
Alicia Witt: For Falacci, specifically, because she's a mother of small children, it affects her in that way. It's such a tragic, tragic case, because it involves kids all the way around. A lot of the people we end up interrogating during the show are young as well. We have young victims, young suspects, and it's just tragic. I found myself with Falacci, just looking at these beautiful faces and thinking, 'What if my kids end up in a similar situation?' It's so unexplainable, what makes kids end up going a certain way and, as the title indicates, it's completely senseless. It's just sad. I found myself completely disturbed by it, as Falacci, in a way that I haven't been from other cases that she's had.
Where does the show stand now, with regards to the strike? How much do you guys have done?
Chris Noth: We've got a couple of things going into the New Year, I think, but we're like everybody else, we're going to have to wait. We've got these shows going over at NBC though, so I think we've got some time... I don't know. You're going to have to ask, actually, someone more informed than I am about how that works. I would assume we're going to go whenever the strike is resolved. We're going to go right back into making new episodes and there'll be some time where they show some repeats before they show the new ones. I'm not really clear, to tell you the truth. All of these episodes, it appears, will go as new episodes on NBC.
Alicia, you're relatively new to the show and I was wondering what it was like to work with Ben Vereen on this episode?
Alicia Witt: Oh, Ben was great! I wished we could've worked with him a lot more than we did. He's playing the father of one of the victims, so it's a rough role. He was amazing. We did our scenes with him, but then in between scenes, he and I started to sing together, so that was really fun. We did some Sammy Davis Jr. covers (Laughs). That was really awesome. We needed levity to this extremely depressing day, so we started to sing.
Chris Noth: Bigger responsibility. We're carrying the show and the story, in a sense that we're leading you through all the different points that lead to the resolution of the crime. It's kind of on our shoulders to present the case, and how it unfolds. It's the full hour, not just half and it goes to the courts. The cases are sometimes more complex. Any major case, there's often something that has a reverberation in the community or the political world.
Chris Noth: Well, in the neighborhoods of Criminal Intent (Laughs) some of the fans wanted me to sign their gin bottles.
So what do the Sex and the City fans want you to sign?
Chris Noth: We were mobbed in Sex and the City: The Movie in the first week. I mean, every set we were on there were 500 people with their camera phones. I've never seen anything like it. That was pretty interesting. Law and Order, I think, is sort of an old friend in New York. We've been around awhile and it's almost like a part of New York. People see us, recognize us, and say 'Hi' but they don't bother us. They leave us alone to do our show. Do you get that sense, Alicia?
Alicia Witt: I have to tell about one very funny story. What I noticed, being around you when we were on the streets shooting the show. Yeah, some people were really interested because of Criminal Intent, but you could definitely tell, especially with the female fans, the ones that were into Chris because of Mr. Big. That was sort of expected. There were always girls that were all googly-eyed and just completely mad about him, which is adorable. This one day, we were shooting a scene in a car, and we were following another car that had the equipment in it. So we were in the car, sort of blocking traffic a little bit. The camera is in our car, and we had to do a U-turn to go back to where we started from to shoot the scene again. There was this huge truck that was being blocked by our little caravan, and he started honking the horn furiously. He was this big burly guy, mid-40s truck driver. We figured, he's just pissed because the road ahead of him is blocked and he can't get to where he needed to go. He kept on honking and finally we were turning in front of him, and he caught Chris' eye with the honking, and he yelled out of the window, "Marry Carrie! Marry Carrie!" (Laughs) That was all he wanted!
Chris Noth: We thought he was gonna jump out and go, "You fuckers have been holding me up all day! Get your asses out of here" and he was gonna be really pissed off, and he goes, "When are you gonna marry Carrie?"
Andrea Witt: That was the whole reason he was honking his horn because he just wanted to get Chris' attention for a second. He's like the most unlikely Sex and the City watcher you'd ever imagined. It was so perfect.
You can watch the "Senseless" episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on December 13 at 10 PM ET/PT on the USA Network.