The procedural’s fall finale starts off in one direction, with a missing child case that leads Detective Amaro (played by Danny Pino) to a prostitute ring that recruits underage girls. Then, upon setting up a sting to catch Johns with the teens, Amaro & Co. happen to nab pro football legend Jake Stanton, played by Everwood alum Williams.
“He’s been visiting — and this is new in his life – these hookers, and they happen to be, unbeknownst to him, underage,” Williams previews.
“Of course, the first thing it reminded me of was Lawrence Taylor,” Williams says, referring to the New York Giants linebacker’s May 2010 arrest on charges of statutory rape and patronizing a prostitute. “Then you combine that with what happened to Dave Duerson,” the NFL player who suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease found in individuals who have been subjected to multiple concussions and other head injuries.
The Duerson comparison is relevant because just as ADA Cabot (Stephanie March) aims to make an example out of Williams’ high-profile sports hero, her case is thrown into chaos when Stanton’s attorney, Bayard Ellis (returning guest star Andre Braugher), questions his client’s mental capacity.
“Beth Chamberlin, who plays my wife, says to Ellis, ‘My husband has been in depression, he’s not himself. He can’t remember things, and he’s hiding it… This isn’t the person I married,’” Williams previews. That information fortifies Ellis for a fight that promises to deliver one of SVU‘s most memorable and moving recent hours.
“When I read the script, I knew that we had a helluva shot at something really good,” Williams shares. Then, touting his TV attorney, he adds, “You don’t get any better than Andre. Very seldom have I worked with another actor whose intelligence is so present when he’s working. He’s just brilliant.”
Surveying his SVU visit as a whole, Williams notes that “when you have a terrific script and actors who know what they’re doing, the environment that this cast and crew creates, and a director like Alex Chapple, it’s not rocket science” to create something great. “It usually goes pretty well.”
For his part, Williams dove deep into research, calling up source material such as the case of a Pennsylvania man who suddenly began exhibiting the urges of a pedophile, only to have them erased completely after doctors removed a tumor that was pressing against a part of his brain. His reading also included the 1966 case of Charles Whitman, the University of Texas student who went on a shooting rampage that was caused in part, it is believed, by a highly aggressive brain tumor.
“This [SVU episode] was extraordinary, like a little movie,” Williams says. “You don’t see roles like this, especially for supporting actors. I was just lucky that [franchise boss] Dick Wolf and the folks over there gave me a shot with this.”