Law & Order cast and producers preview the Season 21 revival

Hugh Dancy
Hugh Dancy as Nathan Price in Law & Order Season 21. Pic credit: NBC

It’s been a long road to the return of Law & Order, but it’s finally happening.

With just a couple of weeks before its premiere, the cast and showrunners of the upcoming Season 21 revival discuss how the return came about and what to expect when the iconic show finally returns with fresh episodes.

How Law & Order returned

In May of 2010, the producers of Law & Order were prepared for the show, still a ratings hit, to set a record with a 21st season. Instead, shockingly, NBC canceled it for the short-lived Law & Order: LA spin-off. 

In an in-depth talk with TV Insider, Sam Waterston stated that “Dick was talking about bringing [L&O] back since the day it was canceled in 2010—which he believed was a mistake. He never gave up intending to do the show again.”

It took a long time to make that happen as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit remained strong and eventually spun off into Law & Order: Organized Crime. There had been plans for a new spin-off, Law & Order: For the Defense but NBC suddenly ended development of that in the summer of 2021.

According to executive producer Rick Eid, “Dick had been talking to me on and off about the mothership coming back. Out of the blue, he called and said, ‘We’re doing it. Are you in?’”

The cast was quickly set, highlighted by Waterston returning as District Attorney Jack McCoy. He’ll oversee senior assistant district attorney Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy), who does most of the work in trials. “He is the one who’s working his tail off and will have the satisfaction of killing the bull every week,” Waterston says.

The pragmatic Price is a former defense attorney and thus knows exactly what kind of tricks the opposing counsel will pull. But Eid notes that he might have a different viewpoint of cases than his senior boss. 

“He has great respect for McCoy and appreciates his counsel when necessary. But they look at the world a little differently and might have different perspectives on how to try a murder case in 2022.”

Odelya Halevi plays the third member of the team, opinionated junior ADA Samantha Maroun. Halevi’s character is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants and, Eid adds: “Her personal story informs her point of view.”

Who’s on the cop side of the show?

Anthony Anderson
Anthony Anderson returns as Kevin Bernard in the Law & Order Season 21 revival. Pic credit: NBC

Another familiar face returning is Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard, one of the final detectives when the show was canceled. Anderson had just wrapped up filming his sitcom Black-ish and thus open for a return. 

“I called Dick and when I told him I’d be a free agent in a few weeks, he said, ‘Anthony, you have no idea how happy this phone call makes me.’”

Eid states that while still enjoying his work, Bernard will now be used to address the changes in perception of the police since the original Law & Order went off the air over a decade ago. “The world’s a lot different than the last time Law & Order was on, and we wanted somebody that could speak to those issues. Anthony felt like the perfect person to do that.”

Anderson agrees. “As a Black detective in New York City, he’s been dealing with issues like racism and sexism internally in his precinct and externally in the world as a Black man. This has been his life.”

Bernard is still by the book and will clash with his partner, Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan). A key issue is that when Bernard was with Internal Affairs, he investigated Cosgrove, straining their partnership. 

Keeping an eye on the pair is Emmy Award winner Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon. 

“They’re skilled and smart but sometimes get off track, and she has to rein them in,” Manheim says. “Especially Cosgrove, who’s a fantastic detective but a hothead.” 

Donovan sees his role differently. “Frank has a high bar for justice. There will be opportunities to examine his idea of justice, and that might not sit too well with the prosecution.”

The actors discussed gelling well, with Anderson hinting, “I am leaning toward doing more than the year I signed on for.”

So far, details are tight on plots, but the series likely continues the classic “ripped from the headlines” storylines the franchise was known for. 

As Waterson states, “The big stuff tearing us up right now—justice and fairness, policing and the courts, women and violence—is exactly what Law & Order is made for.”

With the cast and crew set, fans are eager to see the return of Law & Order pick up right where that classic series left off in amazing drama.

Law & Order Season 21 premieres Thursday, February 24 at 8/7c on NBC.

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