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Dann Florek previews Cragen’s return to Law & Order: Organized Crime

Dann Florek
Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) returns on Law & Order: Organized Crime. Pic credit: NBC

Dann Florek is ready for a return to Law & Order.

The veteran actor previewed his upcoming guest star role on Law & Order: Organized Crime, including how and why Captain Donald Cragen is returning and what it means for Elliot Stabler. 

Cragen’s history on Law & Order

Donald Cragen has the honor of being one of the original faces of the Law & Order franchise.

When the show premiered in 1990, Dann Florek played Cragen as the Lieutenant in charge of the main detectives. Cragen was usually in the office barking out orders, a gruff boss willing to bend the rules. 

The fourth season has Cragen gone, although he returned in the TV film Exiled: A Law & Order Movie. 

When Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered in 1999, Cragen was promoted to Captain and in charge of the SVU team. He’d mellowed after the death of his wife with cases touching on his past, such as his struggles with drinking.

Cragen left in Season 15 after briefly being framed for a woman’s death. He did make a few guest appearances, most recently in the series’ landmark 500th episode.

Speaking to Give Me My Remote, Florek noted how it felt to return to the franchise after so long away. 

“Doing the 500th episode, we were doing it on Zoom. There was a lot going on during the setups where we could talk to each other over the Zoom, and then get to the scenes. But this one, being there— well, it was thrilling. It brought back so much…Just hook up with a friend, an actor, and these characters, and just let it play out. It just felt right. It was a wonderful reunion. And I think we did what we should have and then some.”

Now, Cragen is returning in a much more significant role as one of his former detectives needs his help on a personal matter.

Why is Donald Cragen returning to Law & Order?

Law & Order
Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Cragen (Dann Florek) discuss a case in Law & Order: Special Victim Unit. Pic credit: NBC

The current story arc on Law & Order: Organized Crime has Stabler going undercover in the Brotherhood, a band of corrupt cops. That includes befriending leader Frank Donnelly (Denis Leary).

The latest episode had Stabler shaken when Donnelly related how Stabler’s dad shot a kid in a raid and made it look like self-defense to earn a medal. 

Stabler, who viewed his father as a great cop, wants answers and figures Cragen has them. 

“We viewed the scene as Stabler’s coming to the wise man on the hill,” Florek previews. “And the way I phrased it is it’s part history and part mystery. As a father figure or mentor, I think he handles it as carefully and as honestly as he can.”

Florek said he and Meloni fell into their old chemistry but admitted being nervous being back on set for a Law & Order episode. 

“I was really looking forward to it. Then when I actually got there and Chris walked into the room, I got a little anxious—I was like, ‘I don’t want to screw this up.’ Once we started rehearsing a little bit, and then we started shooting, it was almost like tumblers in a lock; I could feel it click. I could feel it happen. And I could see us look at each other and the trust was back. We had each other’s back. I went, ‘We’re going to be good.’ It felt like like old times. It was like, ‘Wow, has it really been 10 years?’ And that was also very powerful to me, and, I think, added gravitas to the scene.”

While Florek is mum on just what secrets Cragen will be revealing to Stabler, it will be a major reunion for the old friends and give this season of Law & Order: Organized Crime more of a dramatic push.

Law & Order: Organized Crime airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. 

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