Finally an interview with Chris where he’s not being asked about LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT and whether he’s returning as Stabler. In this interview Chris talks about his football days and growing up in Alexandria, Virginia. A good read.
CHARACTERS CHRISTOPHER MELONI Det. Elliot Stabler Law & Order: Special Victims Unit TELEVISION
Christopher Meloni Relives His High School Football Glory Days in Alexandria
Detective Stabler is a local!
By Amanda Whiting on June 20, 2016
Christopher Meloni is probably most recognizable for playing Detective Elliot Stabler for a dozen seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Or maybe you know him as convicted murderer Chris Keller on HBO’s Oz. Or as the midriff-bearing cook in the cult film Wet Hot American Summer, a role he reprised in last year’s Netflix reboot. But if you were a St. Stephen’s School student in Alexandria in 1978, you likely remember him best as captain and quarterback of the undefeated football team. Here, he recalls his glory days.
What was it like to grow up in Alexandria?
I was born in DC. We moved out there when I was 11. We lived right off Seminary Road. I always thought of Alexandria as two places. One was very suburban, especially when you’re coming from DC—that’s a city to me. Downtown Alexandria was a different world. It was really cool, with a sense of history and our Colonial past. I’m more of an urban guy, which is probably why I liked Old Town so much.
Where did you hang out?
The Fish Market on the end of King Street, down on the waterfront. Then there was the Shed, I think it was called, where you could hear live music. Old Town was pretty cool, but it’s become far more polite. Back then, it was kind of rundown. That’s what kids always gravitate towards—edgy places. By the time I graduated, it had [undergone] a complete urban renewal. They made it for adults, not kids. We’d go into DC sometimes. Georgetown, basically. Behaving questionably in Georgetown.
You sound nostalgic for the way it used to be.
Oh yeah, I like run down. I love dilapidated. I think it’s the sense of edge and danger.
Is it true you’re in the St. Stephen’s Hall of Fame?
That’s true. The whole ’78 team is. I spoke for the team at the induction ceremony. The opening sentence of my speech was “It begins with the sound: the unmistakable click-clack of cleats on the asphalt as you make your way to the field.” And it ended with “The long shadows of November, as the weather turns cold and you end practice in the dark.” I liked it. I was very proud of that. That moment it time meant a lot to me. I knew I was going to be quarterback that season, but to be a captain and to go undefeated? That’s all I wanted. And I remember, once that happened, thinking: “I literally can do anything I put my mind to.” That’s how I felt. That’s how deeply that season affected me.
Any specific memories from the season?
My God, I remember every game vividly. The same team beat us my sophomore and junior years. So then we go back down to their place again, senior year. Friday-night lights in the drizzle, and we promptly fall behind 13 to nothing. I remember thinking, “Wait, wait, wait—this isn’t how this is written.” Almost as if the score was a mistake. We wound up beating them 41–21, and I’ll never forget the look on my coach’s face. Sleepy Thompson was a legendary guy in the area. I think he coached for almost 50 years.
Was there a big local rivalry?
We went up against one of our rivals, St. Alban’s, and by the time we met up we were both undefeated, 5 and 0. And this was trumped up as “This is it. Whoever wins this will win the division.” We just beat them senseless. It was devastating. By the second quarter, we were looking at each other going, “Do you want to go home?” We crushed them. I almost felt bad for them. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember almost every play and I don’t remember anything. From 1979, almost 40 years ago. I can’t tell you how much it hurt just to say that.
Have you come home for your high school reunions?
I have. It was interesting. You look in everyone’s face and you realize, “Oh, you’re an echo. This is how time ripples.” And these ripples change us. We get old through these ripples. That’s the image I just kept having. I knew all these people in high school, and I had this image: that’s when the pebble hit the water. I knew you when you were 15. And now I’m looking at you and we’re 40. Some people get fat and don’t take care of themselves, others are just blossoming, finding themselves. It’s just weird.
Did you do theater in high school?
No, but my sister did a performance at a local theater in Alexandria. It was a really bawdy play, and it was fantastic. I took some acting classes in college, had the nerve to think I might be okay at it, and went to New York and learned how to act there. That’s my roadmap.
Do you have any favorite TV shows or movies set in DC?
Veep (Meloni guest starred as Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character’s personal trainer). I love it. I love them. They’re so much fun to work with.
Do you come back to Old Town often?
Not as much as I’d like to. That’s a normal lament, but I was just down there a couple months back to visit my mother and my sister. My family is in the area. I appreciate Old Town. I do the King Street stroll.
Chris again talks about a possible return to LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT as our favourite sex crimes detective Elliot Stabler. Once again Chris doesn’t leave out the possibility, however, he won’t return for the long term. He’s still saying he’s open for a return for a half season wrap up of Stabler’s character. The one thing here is that his show UNDERGROUND has been renewed for a second season, so the possibility of his returning to Stabler for anything more than a short stay is iffy. Considering too that season 13-17 showrunner Warren Leight is departing and his disrespect for the character of Stabler has been evident in his need to push the character of Benson (Mariska Hargitay) to the fore despite the fact her character was the one with the least possible interest despite that ridiculous NBC driven “most liked/trusted/pimped” character on television… This in this author’s opinion, but for me Stabler has always been the most interesting character, of course I’m a bit biased considering I’m a huge Christopher Meloni fan….hence the existence of this site, but for me Hargitay/Benson has always been the weakest part of this show, her and Fin (Ice-T). I always felt that Stabler, Casey Novak played by the always wonderful Diane Neal, the short term character of Dani Beck played by Connie Nielsen, and the disgustingly treated character of Chester Lake played by Native Canadian actor Adam Beach.
August Pullman CHARACTERS CHRISTOPHER MELONI Det. Elliot Stabler Law & Order: Special Victims Unit TELEVISION Underground
How Christopher Meloni Feels About A Possible Return To Law & Order: SVU
We’re currently in one of the most hectic times of the TV year, as networks are dishing out cancellations and renewals like crazy, and new shows are coming together while current favorites are putting their season finales out there. But all this chaos hasn’t distracted us from our big bag of TV wishes, and one of the bigger ones in there involves seeing Christopher Meloni returning to the insanely popular Law & Order: SVU as the formidable former NYPD detective Elliot Stabler. The actor makes it sound like that would definitely happen, too, if certain other parties would just ask him to do it.
I just recently was talking about that. [Pause] I always presented that I’d be open to doing the last few episodes, so that’s really all I have to say about that. It’s not up to me, I’ll just say that. I’ve said my piece on it.
So, not only does it sound like Christopher Meloni would almost immediately grab a tie and shave whatever beard he happened to be sporting so that he could reprise his most memorable small screen role, but it seems like he’s a little perturbed that his agreeing to come back has apparently landed on deaf or uninterested ears. Or at least hit some ears that aren’t too invested in worrying about it just yet with this season’s final two episodes still left to air.
After all, Meloni told EW that he’d be down with acting in the final few episodes of the series, which hearkens back to how the rumors of his return started in the first place. Before NBC decided to renew Law & Order: SVU for Season 18, it seemed likely that Season 17 would be the last one, and showrunner Warren Leight had mentioned in an interview that his plans for the final season included talking to Christopher Meloni about going full metal Stabler. But those conversations apparently never really happened after the renewal, though that doesn’t imply one way or the other that they won’t indeed occur when it’s clear that SVU is going through its last year on NBC.
I expect a lot of fan-pleasing things will happen during that final season, with returning characters and other ways of looking back, and Stabler and Benson’s relationship had better get a fitting resolution when the time comes. Of course, I’d be totally down with Meloni reprising Stabler in Law & Order’s upcoming true crime anthology series. Does it matter that Stabler isn’t actually a real detective? Not to me. I’d be fine with Stabler hosting Wheel of Fortune, so it probably makes sense why I’m not in charge of anything.
With its current batch of non-Stablers getting ready to meet a Brad Garrett’s latest turn as a bad guy, Law & Order: SVU will air its two-part Season 17 finale over the next two Wednesday nights on NBC.
Chris was interviewed by The Wrap about his various projects including his just renewed series for the CW UNDERGROUND, his film I AM WRATH as well as he again teases a return to LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT as his eponymous role Detective Elliot Stabler. I would love to see him back as Stabler if not for anything but to give the character a proper closure, however, I don’t want it to be what could be considered a caricature of the character. We’ve already seen the show diss his contribution with that ridiculous line at the end of Danny Pino’s run as Amaro when Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) told him he was her best partner. I say bullshit! Pino, or as I call him Vanilla Boy, was only on for four years. Chris’ Stabler was on for twelve years and hardly something to consider trivial, which is what I felt they did with him.
August Pullman CHARACTERS CHRISTOPHER MELONI Colonel Hardy Dennis Det. Elliot Stabler FILM Gene I Am Wrath Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Man of Steel Oz Pascal TELEVISION The Diary of a Teenage Girl Underground Wet Hot American Summer
‘Underground’ Star Christopher Meloni Teases Return to ‘Law & Order: SVU’
“I Am Wrath” actor also weighs in on his “Oz” co-star J.K. Simmons joining him in the DCU and working with Marielle Heller
Christopher Meloni is TV royalty thanks to his turn as Det. Elliot Stabler on “Law & Order: SVU,” but these days, he has turned in his badge in favor of WGN America’s drama “Underground,” in which he plays conflicted slave trader August Pullman.
“Underground” is one of two series that could put Meloni in the thick of the Emmy race, along with his comedic turn in Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.” At 55 years old, the veteran actor is gunning for his first Emmy nomination in 10 years, and spoke with TheWrap about his two-tiered campaign in the supporting actor categories on both sides of the genre divide.
In addition to his work on the small screen, Meloni returns to features this weekend alongside John Travolta in Chuck Russell‘s revenge thriller “I Am Wrath,” which sees the actor re-embracing Stabler’s famous temper and going outside the law to deliver justice. It’s a far cry from his work in Marielle Heller‘s “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” which also came up during our brief chat.
Read TheWrap’s interview with Meloni below, and be sure to check out “Underground” on WGN America on Wednesdays, as he’s expected to return for the second season.
TheWrap: “Underground” is the first TV series to really tackle slavery like this, particularly the Underground Railroad. Why do you think it took so long for a story like this to make it onscreen?
Christopher Meloni: I find right now to be the golden age of television. You have so many platforms and outlets starved for real, deep, meaningful storytelling. This show takes advantage of that and lets us investigate our past — not in a dry, historical way, but in a provocative manner.
What’s the hardest part of playing a character who does despicable things for the right reasons?
The truth of the matter is, on a day-to-day basis, we don’t always live in such perfect circumstances. I think we always make choices that are convenient, or feel necessary. If you were brought up during [slavery], maybe you wouldn’t be so proud of your actions. It’s a very human trait placed in a more inflammatory setting, which is slavery. Maybe back then you’d get 20 percent of the population who think slavery is good, but the other 80 percent would think it’s unhealthy and immoral, so it’s kind of an inflammatory place to have a character act out his needs. I didn’t find it that difficult, but for me, I found the mechanisms that made it all too human. People will make a lot of excuses to explain away behavior that many would find odorous or less than good.
What sets “Underground” apart from other shows in this year’s Emmy race?
The writing feels so vital and alive. It’s complicated and complex, as well as truthful and important. Reading it, I had the same feeling I had when I read for the [Jackie Robinson] movie “42.” I thought slavery was an important subject to explore, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. Obviously I’m very biased, but there’s a sense of pride being a part of something that feels important.
Can you even imagine being a slave and having to make your own run for freedom? At what point might you have thrown in the towel?
I’ve thought about that a lot. It’s almost a concept that none of us can connect into. We’re so connected right now. It’s no longer even country-to-country, we’re a global society now. We’re completely globalized and there’s also an immediacy, visually, on our own personal devices. But what if you grew up and all you knew was a hundred-acre patch of land? Unless you were one of the privileged few blacks who were allowed to leave, you have no idea what’s out there, or really any concept of what the world is. And then, to have this feeling inside you where you want this thing called freedom, what does that mean? It’s a dangerous thought to have. So then you escape, but you escape to where? You have no idea what the world is like! I wouldn’t even call it bravery — it’s more this burning sense and desire for freedom that must’ve driven them to a place of madness. It’s a pretty profound thought to me.
You co-star alongside John Travolta in the revenge movie “I Am Wrath.” What do you think audiences find so appealing about those kinds of movies, and how was it working with him?
Your average human would be lying if they said they’ve never daydreamed about some kind of revenge scenario. Everyone has been wronged, whether you were bullied on the playground or something else entirely. Bu we’ve all had our revenge fantasies. That’s in our DNA.
Working with Travolta, you couldn’t find a more gracious guy with his fans. They’d line up outside until we wrapped at 1 or 2 in the morning, just waiting for John, and after a 14-16 hour day he’d walk over to them and sign autographs or take pictures until every person was gone. It’s part of the job, but watching him do it with such good humor was inspiring. It was just a pisser working with him.
Did you relish the opportunity to kick some ass in this movie?
Absolutely. I read the script and appreciated it, because I loved my role. I just think you’d be crazy to pass up a role that has a sense of humor and gives you the chance to do some ass-kicking.
Us “SVU” fans are still seeking closure with regards to your character. Do you think we’ll see Stabler back on the show at some point?
(laughing) I really have no idea how to answer that. From the beginning I’ve said I’d be more than happy to come back for the last six episodes.
Netflix just announced that David Wain and Michael Showalter are getting the gang back together again for “Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later.” Where do you think your character, Gene, would be 10 years later?
He’d be the CEO of some corporation. Maybe a senator?
That’s a far cry from a cook at a Jewish summer camp!
That’s what those people are made of though. Gene is cut from the same cloth as a good CEO or a senator.
You appeared in “Man of Steel,” but you were sorely missed in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Did you see it?
I could’ve told Zack [Snyder] that, but he wouldn’t have listened to me! Nah, I loved working with Zack on “Man of Steel.” I knew there was only a slim chance of coming back, but I was hoping I’d have survived the end of that film.
Your “Oz” co-star J.K. Simmons is joining you in the DC Universe as the new Commissioner Gordon. Do you think he’ll be better than Gary Oldman?
Yeah. I’ve gotta back J.K. Simmons!
You recently co-starred in Marielle Heller‘s indie gem “Diary of a Teenage Girl.” She’s blowing up now, working with J.J. Abrams on a Paramount movie that will star Daisy Ridley, and directing “The Case Against 8,” which tells the true story of California’s same-sex marriage bill. You famously played one of TV’s earliest gay characters on “Oz” — or at least had a gay love affair on the show — so would you work with her again on that film or another one?
Without a moment’s hesitation. She is a bright, unbelievably talented star. I love her, and I thought “Diary” was profound. I wish it had found its way to an Oscar nomination. The subject matter was handled brilliantly, delicately and insightfully. To bring people into a world — 1970s San Francisco — and pull it off on such a low budget? She’s a genius. I’m a big fan.
Speaking of directing, I know you were developing an adaptation of that David Vann novel “Legend of a Suicide” at one point. Are you still pursuing directing?
I let that pass. That was a difficult one to continue to work on. Right now, I’m not actively pursuing the directing thing, but the desire still resides in me.
Chris Added To Amy Schumer Film
christopher meloni online ● May 11, 2016 ● 0 comments
Chris has been added to the now filming unnamed Amy Schumer film. I’ll keep track of the film and Chris’ role in it. Article to follow.
Amy Schumer’s Fox Action/Comedy Adds Christopher Meloni
EXCLUSIVE: Just one day before the Underground Season 1 final on WGN America, Christopher Meloni has found his next big screen gig. The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit alum, who plays slave hunter August Pullman on Underground, is joining Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn’s still Untitled Mother-Daughter adventure comedy from Fox, I’ve learned.
Meloni will play Roger Simmons in the Jonathan Levine directed and Katie Dippold written pic. The character is a man who is on the search for hidden treasure after having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The film is based on the Ghostbusters reboot scribe’s relationship with her own mother.
Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping are producing the pic through Chernin Entertainment, and Paul Feig and Jessie Henderson are producing through Feigco Entertainment. Providing additional script work, Schumer and Kimberly Caramele are also EPS along with Dippold while Daria Cercek is overseeing for Twentieth Century Fox.
In addition to joining the Levine helmed film, Meloni is expected to be back for Season 2 of Underground and will be back as a part of Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later in 2017 on Netflix. On the big screen, Meloni will be seen in the May 13 released I Am Wrath with John Travolta and will also be seen in Marauders with Bruce Willis, set to come out later this year.
Meloni is repped by Gersh and Industry Entertainment.
Happy Birthday Chris
christopher meloni online ● April 2, 2016 ● 0 comments
On behalf of UNABRIDGED, I want to wish Chris a happy birthday. Chris turns 55 today and I’m hoping he spends today with Sherman, Dante and Sophia and a ton of friends, good wine (except if he’s flying), a huge cake, and a wonderful day. Take care Chris and here’s to many more.
CHRISTOPHER MELONI Dante Meloni Sherman Williams Sophia Meloni
ca. April 2005 — Christopher Meloni with his wife Sherman and their children, Sophia and Dante. — Image by © Erica Berger/Corbis
christopher meloni online ● March 31, 2016 ● 0 comments
I know I haven’t been up-to-date on Chris’ work on UNDERGROUND and other things, but I’ve been entirely too busy to make any updates. I’m trying to get organized amid other things going on in the private life that have taken my concentration away. And I’m truly sorry for the lack of those updates. I’m working on them. Please be patient.
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