“Anybody who is an SVU fan will enjoy his role because he definitely flashes it up at the end and brings some well-needed humor and spice to the last couple episodes,” Schreiber, who portrays Betty’s husband, Allan, says, referring to Esparza’s role as Candy’s eccentric (and somewhat ill-prepared) defense lawyer, Don Crowder.
After playing ADA Rafael Barba for six seasons on SVU, Esparza left the role in 2018 during season 19. He has since starred on another Hulu true-crime series, Dopesick, before returning to his roots as a lawyer on Candy.
Of course, this time, Esparza is playing a defense attorney and a far wilder character than Barba. “What we get to do for a living is we get to play,” he says of the role, which “absolutely” flipped the script on his previous character. “It was fun to play a lawyer like this, that is nothing like Barba, who is just this sort of madcap, seat-of-his-pants wild man.”
The same goes for Schreiber, who previously played William Lewis, a serial rapist and serial killer for an extended arc on season 15 of the NBC crime procedural. “He played such a psychopath on Law & Order,” Esparza recalls.
But on Candy, Allan is a far more subdued character who has an affair with Candy before breaking things off to focus on his marriage to Betty. In the finale, he’s called to the witness stand to testify about his relationship with Candy prior to Betty’s murder.
“It was fun to get to do stuff with him where he was so low key,” Esparza says of the scenes, while Schreiber teases that the scene might not necessarily play out how audiences expect it to turn out. “It looked like at the beginning of the case we were going to be on opposite sides of the law and then Allan seems to [make a shift].”
At the end of the day, the SVU reunion proved to be a special moment for the two actors who ended up in a text message group with their co-star Timothy Simons.
“Pablo kept trying to get people together. Tim wanted guys to come over to watch football. We all just ended up texting each other because Omicron was sweeping through Atlanta,” Esparza shares, before noting that “it’s always fun to work with people you’ve worked with before and in that context.”
He adds, “It feels like coming home.”
In addition to Candy series finale, fans can also see Esparza reprise his role as Barba on the upcoming season 23 finale of SVU.