On the NBC crime drama, which debuts Thursday, April 1, Meloni reprises his role as Elliot Stabler, who returns to the NYPD to take on Manhattan’s most powerful crime organizations as he rebuilds his life following a devastating personal loss.
Meloni is joined by Dylan McDermott as Richard Wheatley, Nick Creegan as Richie, Danielle Moné Truitt as Sergeant Ayanna Bell, with Tamara Taylor and Ainsley Seiger rounding out the cast.
It’ll also mark Meloni’s first time playing Stabler in a decade, after his sudden exit from SVU in season 12. While fans have long hoped he would return to the series, it wasn’t until now that he said it felt right to step back into the detective’s shoes.
“A certain piece just fell into place,” Meloni told ET. “For me, there were just personal things that I was like, ‘You know, now is a good time.’ That was it. There was nothing secret. It just was effortlessly correct.”
He added that it’s so rare to have such clarity about a project. “It's one of these [things where] I felt like I believed in the stars and all that… I’d go, ‘Oh, the stars are telling me you know but because it was just right.’”
Despite nearly a decade apart, Meloni and Hargitay have picked up where they left off. “We’ve said it’s like we don’t have this relationship with anyone else,” the actor said. “It’s unique, it’s full of laughter, she’s full of love. We just kind of fall seamlessly into that place every time we see each other.”
The actor concluded by saying, “[SVU] gave birth to Mariska and Meloni, and Benson and Stabler. So we’re kind of inextricably linked and connected in that way.”