Warning: This post contains major spoilers about Wednesday’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Brooke Shields has about a hundred film and TV credits, as well as two Golden Globe nominations and an iconic Calvin Klein commercial, on her resumé. Still, on her first day working alongside friend Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, “I was so nervous to come into this well-oiled machine that I called her my character’s name,” Shields said, laughing.
She’s referring to the scene that ended this week’s episode of the NBC procedural: Olivia, who at the top of the episode was relieved to hear that her child-abuse investigation had been closed, answers a knock at her apartment door to find Shields standing on the other side. “Olivia Benson?” the woman says, “I’m Sheila Porter, Noah’s grandmother.”
Fans of the series know this is not great for Lt. Benson, who adopted her son, Noah, after his mother Ellie died. And as Liv reminded Trevor Langan in Wednesday’s hour, Ellie had told Olivia that both of her parents were dead.
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Turns out, Ellie lied. And now that Sheila is making moves to vacate Noah’s adoption, expect to see a lot more of Shields’ character in the coming weeks.
Shields told reporters at a recent press event that she’s very aware of how Olivia’s enemies are viewed by SVU diehards. “But I think what fans will understand is that both of these woman actually have a valid argument, and what does that mean? It is about winning? Is it about finding the healthiest compromise?” she asked. “I’m not there to replace [Olivia]. I’m not there to undermine or stamp her out, so I’m not an adversary in that way.”
New showrunner Michael Chernuchin credits Hargitay with thinking of Shields for the part, an idea that came up after Hargitay saw Shields act in an episode of mutual pal Ali Wentworth’s Pop comedy Nightcap.
“I sit at the screening, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, she’s perfect!” Hargitay recalls. Getting the Suddenly Susan alum on board, however, took some creative pitching. “She’s like, ‘So what am I playing?,’ and I’m like, ‘the grandma,'” Hargitay says, laughing. “She goes, ‘I see how you are.'”
Chernuchin adds, “On the Internet, when we announced that she was going to be on the show, we wouldn’t say what part she was playing. Everybody was guessing different things. Nobody guessed this.”