Law and Order: Special Victims Unit recently aired Episode 13.03: Blood Brothers on Wednesday, October 5 on NBC. Guest stars Judy Reyes and Kyle MacLachlan held a conference call to discuss this episode. Here's what they had to say below.
I was wondering if each of you could talk a little bit about how you got involved with the show.
Judy Reyes: I actually through my manager got this wonderful offer to play this character of Inez Rivera in this compelling script about this - the mother of this young kid who committed this unfortunate and heinous crime. And I loved the opportunity to play this role so I just jumped at it. And then I found out that I was involved in this. Once I read it I was involved in this unbelievable turn of events towards the end of the episode. So I jumped at the chance. It's pretty simple and it's a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode in its 13th season with Mariska Hargitay. There was no way I could say no. It was a chance to come back to my home city of New York. So I said absolutely.
Kyle MacLachlan: Well I had done one Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode years ago working with Mariska and at the time Christopher Meloni. So I was very happy to hear from them again because I had had such a wonderful experience that first time around. I thought the character was very compelling in that particularly the emotional demands of the character are not things that I get to typically do, certainly not when I was on, that often anyway, on Desperate Housewives. So I really leapt at the chance to first and foremost to explore the character. I had heard great things about the director, Tom DiCillo and it turned out to be just a wonderful experience working with him as well. And I knew the woman who was playing my wife, Paige Turco, because I had worked with her husband, Jason O'Mara on a series for ABC called In Justice. And the funny thing about this business is that when you've been around as long as I have, dots become connected that you don't even really know. And so each job provides an opportunity not only to work with interesting people but probably people that you know.
I was wondering, there's usually an underlying message in the SVU episodes such as sexism, racism and the environment, etc. What would you say the message is in this episode?
Judy Reyes: That's a terrific question. I would say the message would be the abuse of power and how you become submissive to abuses of power, seduced by it. In essence that would be the message of this episode. And I think it's masterfully conveyed in this episode in all dimensions but by all points of view. And either by generations of it, by people who are merely introduced to it by the youngest members of it, by people who are new to the country. I think in essence that would be the message of this particular episode.
Kyle, I was wondering, the Law & Order franchise is usually - it's a rite of passage for actors. I just wanted to know, what's it like for you to return to this franchise for a second time, this time as a politician?
Kyle MacLachlan: You know, it's been 11 years. I think in my previous episode the - I had also lost my son as well to a young psychopath. And I took matters into my own hands and actually got away with it which was one of the few times on SVU that that happens. Returning 11 years later and now as an adult and having a three year old boy my life experiences had altered because of that. Being older, I'm married now, I wasn't before. And also I'm the father of a three year old. And the change in my emotional response to what turned out to be in a general way a very similar situation, a loss of a son, was categorically altered simply because I now as a man, had the experience of having a son. And, you know, as an actor you play a lot with the ifs of life, the what-ifs, you know. If you're open to it that can be a very powerful process. And I found suddenly that I was able to access things and go through things that I don't think I would have - I know that I wasn't capable of experiencing in the previous Law & Order. So I just felt I guess more prepared, more able to create a character that felt deeper and richer. And hopefully he'll be more believable on screen.
I was just wondering how was it working with Mariska and the new cast members, Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish?
Judy Reyes: It was terrific. I thought Mariska and Danny worked well together. Mariska is a fantastic leader and she's a great force on the set. She's just commanding and generous. And Danny was also very generous and kind and held his own as his very first episode coming onto the scene. And it was a very loose, smooth and terrific, fun experience for such a demanding role and opportunity. So I had a wonderful time and they were terrific.
Kyle MacLachlan: I wanted to say that having had a chance to work with Mariska years ago with Christopher Meloni actually I worked primarily in the episode I'd done before, with Chris so it was really nice to be able to work with Mariska. And I agree with what Judy's saying about just generosity of spirit, a real appreciation and a gratefulness for those actors, Judy and myself, coming in to actually, you know, to play in their playground or to be a part of their playground, you know. And they were really grateful and really welcoming. You can always tell I think in a show about the level of commitment from the stars and it's how generous they are in giving back to the guest stars. And one of the real ways you can tell that is on the off camera situations when they're giving lines to us and they're in a scene but they're not necessarily on the camera. It's at what level they come in at. And both Mariska and Danny were incredibly there and available and giving it 100% every step of the way. I mean it shows in the quality of the show I think. And it also makes the guest stars who come in who sometimes maybe a little bit nervous or apprehensive in the very beginning, it puts us right at ease because we know that they are really there for us and they're really supporting us. And it's a great feeling.
Kyle, you just kind of mentioned something that I wanted to ask. Do you both still get nervous on your first couple of days on set?
Kyle MacLachlan: What do you think Judy?
Judy Reyes: Absolutely. Absolutely. And as we were mentioning, because of the high level of drama that shows like this tend to demand of guest stars because the nature of these kinds of shows, of these procedurals for lack of a better term I suppose, they demand a lot from you emotionally. So what you always want to do is deliver because of course they're episodics and you're always on a time crunch. So inevitably and because for my - speaking for myself and no doubt for Kyle, I would bet feels similarly, they're fans of people like Mariska and Danny and the show. And you do like to make an impression that you're fans of as well, of your peers so to speak. And you want to be a part of making the show run smoothly and swiftly and you want to deliver take after take. So the short answer is yes, you do get nervous. And yes, you want to if not give one good take, two good takes or three good takes or different takes that, you know, that they can count on. So yeah, you do get nervous. And once you deliver a good take then you want to do something else that they can use. So the answer is yes.
Kyle MacLachlan: Yeah. I completely agree with everything. Every time I go into something new I always feel like, you know, gee if I can remember what I'm supposed to here, you know, it's a very funny thing because it's, you know, a minute into doing a scene you're like oh yeah, yeah. I remember exactly where I am. But for that first moment, the buildup, you're just kind of like am I going to know what to do? And it's true because oftentimes in those situations you are nervous and you do feel the weight of the responsibility. They're not nervous for you necessarily but they understand that you are nervous so they try and make it as comfortable as possible and really ideally, you know, the death - the killer of good acting is intention, you know? So you're basically trying to work against this idea that there's tension. And there is tension there but you really want to be available. I go back to one of the great things about both Mariska and Danny was when you needed to look and feel from them energy and in the scene and emotion and commitment and availability they were right there which makes the job of the guest star so infinitely easier. Because you don't feel like you're fighting against something. They're with you. You know, we're all in the soup together, you know? And I think that is, you know, it's not that it's rare in the business but to have it at such a high level like I experienced from both Mariska and Danny. It made the places that you have to go as an actor a little easier, you know? It's still hard to get there, you know, because you've got to access some dark things. But it, you know, you're able to do it without feeling too much nerves after you sort of, you know, get through that first few seconds.
Is guest starring on shows as great as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit something you enjoy doing or something, you know, that gets your artistic juices flowing?
Judy Reyes: No. That's definitely a plus. It's definitely something I enjoy doing, you know. Guest starring is a sink your teeth into kind of opportunity. So yeah, that's good.
Kyle MacLachlan: Yeah, I agree. I think that Law & Order in particular of shows that provide opportunities to guest star are - that's always a show that I look at if I, you know, if I happen to be at loose ends or if I'm not on, you know, doing something. And it's primarily for the reasons Judy was saying which is it provides such an incredible opportunity to really, you know, bite into something that can be emotional or physical, something that is demanding and testing and fun. You know, you're in an environment that's great because of all the cast and everybody and they make it really wonderful. But you really get to stretch yourself as an actor. And the emotional demands are always high, you know.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit airs on Wednesday nights at 10 PM ET on NBC.