Mehcad Brooks on His 'Law & Order' Debut and Why His Character Is a 'Calm Wolf' (Exclusive)

Law & Order

The actor joins 'Law & Order' as Det. Jalen Shaw, making his debut during the three-hour crossover event.

During Thursday night’s Law & Order crossover event, uniting all three NBC series, Mehcad Brooks will make his debut as Det. Jalen Shaw. The 41-year-old actor, who previously appeared on a 2011 episode of Special Victims Unit, is Law & Order’s newest addition, replacing Anthony Anderson, who left the revival after one season. 

“It’s a dream come true in so many ways,” Brooks tells ET’s Rachel Smith about joining the franchise full time. “I grew up watching the show, so it’s surreal in some ways.” 

Joining the homicide unit led by Lt. Kate Dixon (Camryn Manheim), Shaw is Det. Frank Cosgrove’s (Jeffrey Donovan) new partner following the departure of Det. Kevin Bernard (Anderson). According to Brooks, before carrying a badge and gun, his character was an attorney. 

“He’s also an adrenaline junkie turned undercover narcotics officer turned homicide detective,” the actor says. “He knows the law inside and out. Also, he can be rough when he needs to, when duty calls.” 

Not only that, but based on the etymology of his name, with Jalen meaning calm and Shaw a reference to Welsh football, Brooks describes his character as a “calm wolf.” “He’s a wolf that hunts for peace and when people get in the way of that, you see the wolf. So, there’s that,” he says. 

Will Hart/NBC

And when it comes to the crossover event, which the cast describes as a “three-hour movie,” audiences will really get to know what Shaw is all about as he and Cosgrove team up to figure out why a mysterious girl was shot in cold blood. They eventually turn to Capt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) when they realize this case is not just a typical homicide and they need the help of the Special Victims and Organized Crime units. 

“The production value is incredible. It felt like we were shooting Fast and Furious in New York,” the actor says of the premiere event, which also allowed him to work with everyone on all three shows. “It was a very big playground,” he says, adding that it was “a lot of fun… Mariska is incredible. Meloni’s incredible. We had a great time. Ice-T was hilarious. He’s great.” 

His co-stars, Hugh Dancy (ADA Nolan Price) and Odelya Halevi (ADA Samantha Maroun), also had nothing but nice things to say about Brooks. “He’s a delightful guy,” Dancy says, while Halevi reveals that he made a seamless addition to the Law & Order team. 

“He’s just the guy you wanna hang out with. I’m so happy he joined our family,” she says. “When he joined, I was like, ‘Yes, another great, amazing, interesting, smart, charismatic person.’”