15 Actors Who've Played Multiple Roles on 'SVU'
When you've been around for nearly a quarter of a century, the casting mill can run a bit...dry. Such is the case for Law & Order: SVU. The longest-running live-action show in history has a sneaky habit of having actors re-appear in new roles.
Dick Wolf & Co. already pulled that move once in Season 24, with Bradley Whitford: The former West Wing star and Emmy winner took part in an emotional episode directed by Mariska Hargitay in February, but also appeared on the show as a totally different guy in 2014.
Now, the behind-the-scenes casting squad is up to its old tricks again, as tonight's ep features the return of Tim Irwin—who previously guest starred in 2011—as an entirely new character. What's more, Irwin is acting opposite Betty Buckley, who herself has appeared on the series as two distinct people.
Whew! Did you get all that? In honor of tonight's episode, here are 15 actors who have played more than one role on SVU.
Related: 'Law & Order: SVU' Gets Renewed—All About the Show's Milestone 25th Season
Actors who've played multiple different characters on 'Law & Order: SVU'
1. Tom Irwin
Tom Irwin appears in Season 24's "Bend the Law" as the disgraced husband of trial division chief Lorraine Maxwell. Irwin previously appeared in "Bombshell" (2011), where he played an aviation engineer, swinger and eventual murderer in what was a rather twisted plot, even by SVU standards.
2. Betty Buckley
Buckley now plays trial division chief Lorraine Maxwell on SVU, but she originally appeared as Attorney Walsh, a defense lawyer, in three episodes in the aughts: "Lunacy" (2008), "Clock" (2006) and "Manipulated" (2006).
3. Peter Scanavino
Before he starred as detective-turned-ADA Dominick "Sonny" Carisi (and one-half of Rollisi), Peter Scanavino guest-starred as Johnny Dubcek in "Monster's Legacy" (2013). Dubcek was a molestation victim who turned into a perp and assaulted two people, including a pedophile. He came back as Carisi in Season 16 and switched to the "order" side when he became an ADA in Season 21.
4. Kelli Giddish
Kelli Giddish is best known for her role as Senior Detective Amanda Rollins, who first made her way onto our screens in 2013 and exited earlier this season (too soon). She's the other half of Rolissi (swoon) and will be back for the season finale (yay). Like her on-screen other half, Scanavino, Giddish made her SVU debut in an entirely different role. In 2007, Giddish played rape survivor Kara Bawson in the episode "Outsider."
Related: Ice-T Approves! All About Kelli Giddish's Surprise Return to the 'Law & Order' Universe
5. Diane Neal
Most SVU fans will remember Diane Neal's run on SVU for her role as ADA Casey Novak (who seemingly won about 2.5 cases, but never mind). But Neal first appeared in a Season 3 episode, "Ridicule" (2001), where she was prosecuted by Novak's predecessor, ADA Alexandra Cabot, for assaulting a sex worker and murdering a friend. Dang!
6. Hayden Panettiere
Nashville star Hayden Panettiere is also a repeat SVU guest. In 2001, shortly after appearing as the spunky daughter of a football coach in Remember the Titans (2000), she played the daughter of a country music star in the Season 2 episode "Abuse." Panettiere returned four years later in a vastly different role, playing Angela Agnelli, a Catholic schoolgirl who murders a doctor in "Hooked" (2005).
7. Peyton List
Peyton List, who you may recognize as Jane Siegel (Mad Men), made three appearances on SVU. She played Patsy in "Pixies" (2001), rape survivor Chloe Dutton in "Souless" (2003) and news anchor Margery Evans in ripped-from-Fox-news-headlines "The Newsroom" (2017).
8. Kyle MacLachlan
Kyle MacLachlan played a doctor whose son was killed by a young neighbor in "Conscience" (2004) and later a U.S. ambassador in "Blood Brothers" (2011).
9. Isiah Whitlock Jr.
The Wire star has appeared in so many episodes across the Law & Order franchise that he makes Mariska Hargitay look lazy (kidding—she's the best). He's played 12 different characters between his stints on SVU, the original Law & Order and Criminal Intent.
Four of those characters were in the SVU universe, including: robbery division captain in "Limitations" (2000); Todd Smythe in "Paranoia" (2001); an NTCC rep in "Parts" (2005); and Captain Reece in "Home Invasion" (2012), "Deadly Ambitions" (2013) and "Community Policing" (2015).
Related: Bradley Whitford on What Mariska Hargitay Is Really Like on 'Law & Order: SVU'—and How His Mother Influenced His Role as a Murder Suspect
10. Gloria Reuben
The ER star appeared on another procedural—more than once—in SVU. In "Dolls" (2002), Reuben played Violet Tremain, a mother of a kidnapped victim. She has also appeared in three episodes (one in Season 9, two in Season 12) as Homicide Bureau Chief Christine Danielson.
11. Dominic Fumusa
Nurse Jackie fans will remember Dominic Fumusa as Kevin Peyton. But he's also taken several turns on SVU, all as a cop—and his name changed more than a perp on the run. An early adapter to SVU, played Detective Lopez in the eighth-ever episode of the series, "Stalked" (1999); Lieutenant Coates in "Paranoia" (2001); Lieutenant Gary Rosten in "PTSD" (2008); and Captain Jason Harris in "Spiraling Down" (2011) and "Street Revenge" (2012).
12. Bradley Whitford
Bradley Whitford played a murder suspect with dementia in a lauded episode of SVU earlier this season called "King of the Moon." But his first brush with the show came in 2014 when he guest starred as a TV producer accused of molesting his son in "Reasonable Doubt."
13. John Doman
Another Wire cast member with a laundry list of SVU credits, John Doman, has appeared as five different characters. Doman actually played three separate roles in the show's first three seasons: Dan Lattimer in "Limitations" (2000), an informant in "Wrong Is Right" (2000) and a special agent in "Wrath" (2001). He later appeared as wrongfully-convicted man Mike Mollinax in "Scheherazade" (2007) and military contractor William Rand in "Official Story" (2012). His most recent Law & Order credits are over on Organized Crime, where he portrayed white-collar criminal Robert Silas in four episodes of Season 3.
Related: 30 Best SVU Episodes, Ranked
14. Nestor Serrano
Nestor Serrano made his SVU debut as Sgt. Lloyd Andrews on "Asunder" (2000) and returned as Franco Marquez in "Obscene" (2004). In the latter episode, Serrano's character is a director who married a young actress despite her being underage.
15. Elizabeth Mitchell
Elizabeth Mitchell's first appearance on SVU was a memorable one. In "Mercy" (2003), she played the mother who put her baby in a water cooler because the little one had Tay-Sachs disease, an inherited disorder that cannot be cured. In "Totem" (2011), Mitchell appeared as a piano teacher of a child murder victim.
Did you get all that? Feel free to lie down!
Next, Everything to Know About Law & Order: SVU's Milestone 25th Season