How to Get Cast on ‘Law & Order’

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Photo Source: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

With its unmistakable introduction and A-list cast, “Law & Order” remains one of television's most well-known (and longest-running) crime dramas. The original “Law & Order” premiered on NBC in September 1990 and ran for 20 seasons before the network unexpectedly canceled it in 2010. During its tenure, the series spawned multiple spinoffs, including the ever-popular “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”

However, like many beloved series, the original “Law & Order” received the reboot treatment in February 2022 with an abbreviated 10-episode run. And now, with the Season 23 finale having just aired and Season 24 confirmed, fans of the franchise may be wondering how they can land a role on the iconic series. This in-depth guide outlines everything you need to know about the casting process, along with information on upcoming auditions, advice from the talented cast, and even an inside look at how to get cast on “SVU.”

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What is “Law & Order” about?

Anyone familiar with every episode’s disclaimer knows “Law & Order” focuses on “the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.” The series explores crimes the NYPD encounters daily and the justice system that doles out the verdict, often pulling inspiration straight from the headlines. Created by Dick Wolf, “Law & Order” has tackled hundreds of crimes—from drunk drivers to drug cartels—during its tenure. A classic example of the crime procedural genre, “Law & Order,” follows one case each week from start to finish while also exploring the personal lives of its main characters and how the job impacts their relationships.

Who is in the cast of “Law & Order”?

With 23 seasons in the books, “Law & Order” has seen its fair share of big stars come and go. From Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston to Angie Harmon and Benjamin Bratt, the series’ 501 episodes (and counting) have never been short on talent.

Here’s the Season 1 cast that started it all:

  • George Dzundza as Sergeant Max Greevey
  • Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan
  • Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen
  • Michael Moriarty as Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone
  • Richard Brooks as Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette
  • Steven Hill as District Attorney Adam Schiff

And here’s who starred in “Law & Order” Season 23:

  • Reid Scott as Detective Vincent Riley
  • Mehcad Brooks as Detective Jalen Shaw
  • Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon
  • Hugh Dancy as Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price
  • Odelya Halevi as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun
  • Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy

However, Waterston left his role mid-way through Season 23, making way for the new district attorney, “Scandal” alum Tony Goldwyn, who plays Nicholas Baxter.

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Who are the casting directors for “Law & Order”?

Jonathan Strauss and Philip Huffman of Jonathan Strauss Casting have served as primary casting directors for this latest iteration of “Law & Order.” Having cast NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” and CBS’ “FBI” series, the pair understands what it takes to maintain a beloved franchise.

As Huffman told us, casting for procedurals might require casting 20 to 30 roles outside the main cast for a given episode. Many actors will appear in only one episode. Still, some could potentially return for a longer arc or appear sporadically throughout the show’s run—so you should come prepared for multiple rounds of auditions. Those who have never auditioned for Strauss’ team before may be pre-screened, and those who are asked back will be brought in for a producer session, where they’ll read in front of an executive producer, a CD, and a writer. Because decisions are made swiftly, the creative team will send out offers as soon as the shooting schedule is established.

If actors want to make an impression, Huffman advises, they should be flexible in the audition room. Those who can make jargon or simple dialogue sound natural will also stand out; so even if you don’t land this one role, you might just be called back for another.

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How does the casting process work for “Law & Order”?

“Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf has always had a hand in helping the casting department choose the right talent for the given role. “I consider principal casting to be extremely important. The proper casting can make or break a show,” Wolf told us. “I want actors to understand the character they are playing and to show some depth in their reading, and of course, to be prepared.”

Wolf also noted that he tries to keep an open mind when casting, as many factors go into such a big decision. “Sometimes it’s physical appearance—do you believe that this person could be the character,” he said. “Sometimes we will look at people more than once, or we feel the actor might have been nervous or not 100 percent, and we give them another shot. So the short answer, is we are as open as possible. Sometimes the person you least expect [to] is the one that nails the audition.” He also noted that his background in advertising provided a “terrific foundation” because he can “cast under pressure.”

“When you have a client looking over your shoulder,” Wolf added, “you need to deliver an actor who can perform exactly the way the client wants. When you are casting a television series, you want that perfect fit, too.”

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Where can you find “Law & Order” casting calls and auditions?

At the moment, there are no “Law & Order” open casting calls available, as Season 23 just aired its finale on May 16. However, because the series is set and filmed in New York City, local actors should keep their eyes peeled for notice, especially regarding background work. No matter how small the role might be, the franchise is an excellent place for aspiring actors to get their start. 

For the latest casting updates, link up with an agent, as auditions for substantial speaking roles often funnel through them rather than via public calls. If you don’t have an agent, you can consult our guide to landing representation. In the meantime, keep checking our main casting page for up-to-date information on your next TV role.

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What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “Law & Order”?

Control what you can and let go of the rest. Anthony Anderson, who played Detective Kevin Bernard, says there’s only one thing an actor can control during an audition: themselves. The actor recommends letting go of everything else and focusing on what you can bring to the table. “I give 100% every time I enter a casting room, because I always believe that I may not get that job, but they will remember me for the next opportunity that comes across their desk,” he told us. “You are the only constant in the equation that you can control.” Anderson added that he regularly repeats his favorite mantra: “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Act as if you’ve already gotten the part. Benjamin Bratt, who played Detective Rey Curtis from 1995 to 1999, recommends walking into the audition room with the mindset that you’ve already landed the role. “I used to imagine the producers, the director, anyone in the room, they want me to be the guy because then their job is over. And I would walk in—not with cockiness, but with an assuredness that indicated to them that, yes, I am the right actor for the role. And sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn’t,” he told us.

“Having been on the other side of the process: Be prepared. I would memorize my lines and hold the pages in my hand to indicate that it’s not the final performance. But if the audition is being taped, they want your eyes. And the last thing I always think about is, don’t be a chatty Charlie. I promise you, no one in the room wants to know about or understand your process. They just don’t care. If they engage you, be engaging back, but be about the work. Come in and get it done, and that usually makes the biggest impression.”

Keep an open mind: Angie Harmon, who played ADA Abbie Carmichael from 1998 to 2001, learned the hard way to never say no. In an interview with Michael Rosenbaum, Harmon shared how fear kept her from taking an audition. During a night out with friends, an acquaintance (who also happened to be Eric Clapton’s drummer) told her she should become a singer. He set up an audition with Clapton, but Harmon backed out at the last moment because she was too scared. She reconsidered a month later, when she ran into the drummer again, but the opportunity had passed; she’d lost her chance. “He looked at me, and he goes, ‘You know that feeling that you’re feeling right now?’ And I went, ‘Yes.’ And he goes, ‘Don’t ever feel it again.’ And I never have,” she said.

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How to get cast on “Law & Order: SVU”

Want to know how to get cast on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”? With 25 seasons in its rearview, it’s safe to say the spinoff has established its own rhythm. Huffman also serves as the CD for “SVU,” so he’s got some tips for landing a role on this series, too. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Remain flexible. Come prepared, but be open to direction from the creative team. Embrace whatever they suggest and let their guidance take you somewhere you never expected.
  • Keep it simple. Huffman prefers actors who don’t seem like they’re acting. So don’t overdo it if you’re reading for a smaller role. But if you’re auditioning for the role of a sexual assault victim, for example, he advises that you “take your time and dig in.”
  • Be in the moment. Actors often ask if there’s something they should know about the role before they begin, but Huffman prefers to witness what the actor brings to the scene first. “Someone might bring something unexpected to it. That’s great when it happens organically,” he said.

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