'Law & Order: Organized Crime' Star Vinnie Jones on Albi's Story Coming Full Circle (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
After taking down Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) in the debut season of Law & Order: Organized Crime, Det. Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) has gone undercover in season 2 to infiltrate a notorious crime family led by Jon Kosta (Michael Raymond-James) that has aims of taking over New York City’s cocaine trade. Among the ranks of Kosta’s team is Albi Briscu, played by Vinnie Jones, who is famous for his roles in Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels.
As Stabler gets closer to bringing Kosta’s organization down from the inside, especially now that several key members are facing legal ramifications for their involvement, Jones opens up to ET about joining the franchise and bringing Albi’s story full circle as the season 2 story seemingly comes to an end after eight episodes.
“It’s like the holy grail of TV, isn’t it?” Jones says of the franchise by phone, back in England after completing his arc on the series. “It’s such a stature in people’s lives. It’s been around for so long.”
Initially made aware of the role by his agents, the actor had to convince the producers that he could play Albanian and that he was OK with being bald. (“I said, ‘My hair is quite short,’” he quips.) And once he did that, Jones found out he would be playing a gay Albanian gangster. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s different. So, yeah, let’s go,’” Jones recalls.
While Jones has never played gay -- he does claim to have amassed a following after playing the leather-bound Juggernaut in X-Men: Last Man -- the actor had no issue with taking on the LGBTQ role. “I have big enough shoulders for me to take this role on,” he says, adding that his daughter, Kaley, who came out three years ago and is set to marry her partner, “was very pleased with it.”
Given that he wasn’t just going to be in one or two episodes as the villain of the week or killed off right away, Jones was able to form a family on set and dive deep into the role, which has resulted in another richly layered villainous character for the Stabler-centric spinoff.
“I mean, I was in New York for four months, from start to finish,” Jones says. And because of that, “the other actors around you can trust.” Whereas doing one or two episodes before you’re out “is very hard to do.” And when it comes to working with Meloni, who the actor considers a great leader on set, “Chris is a bloody fine actor. I love his work and I loved working with him... It was such fresh air for me.”
And when looking back on his time as Albi, Jones says that one of his favorite scenes with Meloni comes at the end of episode 3, “The Outlaw Eddie Wagner,” after Stabler has followed Albi to a gay club. The two then set off into the wilderness to dig a grave when Albi confesses that the man he killed earlier in the episode tried to out him. “I tried to reason with him! He was stubborn. Stupid,” the mobster says. “I’m a man, you see? My culture, you don’t just... I’m a man.”
“I think that was quite powerful,” Jones says of the scene where “it all starts dropping into place. And [Stabler] says, ‘Albi, I’ve got your secret. No one will know.’” In that moment, audiences can see Albi struggling to maintain his composure as he decides not to kill Stabler for knowing his true identity as the two men become bonded with this secret. “I thought that was some of the best acting that I did on the show,” the actor continues, adding that Meloni “brings out the best acting [in you].”
As for Thursday night’s action-packed episode, “Ashes to Ashes,” which seemingly brings the Kosta storyline to a close, Jones says it “brings the story together about Flutura and Albi.” Flutura Briscu, of course, being Albi’s wife played by Law & Order True Crime actress Lolita Davidovich. And amid all the chaos, as the NYPD tries to bring the organization down once and for all, “She says to him, ‘You saved me, so let me save you,’” Jones says as their journey comes full circle.
The actor teases, “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, the big reveal.’ And it all falls into place.”
While this marks Jones’ last appearance as Albi for the foreseeable future, like audiences have seen with Wheatley, there’s no true end to one’s story on Organized Crime unless they’re dead. And the actor says that he’s game to return anytime the show will have him. “They all know I want to be part of the family,” he says, before adding, ‘They said, ‘You won’t be going far.’ ...Going forward, I would love to be rotated in, you know what I mean?”