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Christopher Meloni, 60, didn't know what a zaddy was: 'I just thought it was a cutie thing'

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 26: Christopher Meloni attends the
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 26: Christopher Meloni attends the "Stillwater" New York Premiere at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on July 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Christopher Meloni is opening up — literally — in a new cover story for Men’s Health.

At 60 years old, America’s favorite “zaddy” had no trouble showing off his splits, sharing his butt workout and explaining how he’s embracing the third act of his life with newfound optimism.

Admittedly, while the Law & Order: Organized Crime star says it’s "cool as sh**" that his butt is having a cultural moment right now, even he had to be schooled on what exactly a "zaddy" is.

"I just thought it was a cutie thing," he said before clarifying whether it's "daddy plus?" or "daddy platinum?"

Of course, "zaddy," which was recently added to Dictionary.com, is defined as an "attractive man who is also stylish, charming and self-confident." Meloni has come to be the poster child of the term. In fact, in a recent interview with Interview, he fully embraced the title, saying, "Who am I to argue with it? Sure, I’m a zaddy."

But at this stage in his life, Meloni takes "no bulls***" as he looks back on his career with a new level of focus collected over decades of soul-searching.

"There are bigger things, more important things. I know how important this is to me, but I have a clearer vision of life," Meloni tells Men’s Health about his career and understanding his priorities. "I know a little more about love. I know a little more about real pain. I know about joy. I know better management skills. As you go through life, you get a clearer understanding of things, of your holes and of your gifts."

For the actor who admitted to dealing with crippling anxiety early in his career, stepping into his success required breaking old habits.

"When my career started to happen, I could feel it," he said of his rise to fame. "But I didn’t want to trust it, because I had struggled for so long — or at least it felt like I’d struggled for so long — and I didn’t want it to go away. I don’t know how many people get this opportunity to dream a dream and have it come to fruition. Because everyone does the first part, but to have it come to fruition then starts a whole other journey of Now what? And What is this? And How do you manage?"

While Meloni is quick to clarify that success isn't a burden, he admits it's "a new world."

"You're so used to the old way of: I have to keep this mindset and I’ll just dream a dream. But if the dream actually happens, then you’re like, OK, now we have to manage the dream. We have to… what do we do, actually?"

The actor continues to get through these seeds of doubt and anxiety by acknowledging the moment. 

“When something weird and out of the norm happens, I don’t panic,” he said. “I always sit with it and go, All right, let’s experience what’s happening, because getting tenser is not going to help the situation.”

The practice has allowed him to fully step into what comes next — whatever that may be. "This time around with the Law & Order ride, I’m not stressed by: Will it go well? Will it not go well? Not that I know how it’s going to go. Just that, eh, just ride. Just do, just be."

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