You know the phrase, “Game respects game?” Prepare to see it play out in Thursday’s Law & Order: Organized Crime.
In the series premiere last week, viewers were introduced to Dylan McDermott’s Richard Wheatley, a gangster’s son who is cagey enough to have built an illicit business of his own and cold enough to murder his own father atop a Coney Island ferris wheel. (Read a recap of the premiere.)
Wheatley also is involved in the nefarious goings-on in Puglia, Italy, which were an integral part of the premiere and which are related to the death of Det. Stabler’s wife, Kathy, in the SVU episode that preceded OC‘s debut. (Read a recap here.)
So naturally, we wanted to talk with McDermott about Richard’s first run-in with the grieving — and vengeful — Stabler, which takes place in this week’s episode (NBC, 10/9c). “Richard can take on Stabler,” the actor tells TVLine. “In fact, he looks forward to it.”
Read on to hear what else the American Horror Story and The Practice alum has to say about butting heads with Chris Meloni’s alter ego, as well as to hear him answer our questions about Richard’s gorgeous dogs and what kind of animal Bobby Donnell would be (yes, seriously).
TVLINE | How was Richard pitched to you?
I love the crime world. I grew up in New York, and I was seeing the mafia around town, watching them. And I remember going with my dad to Umbertos Clam House, where Joey Gallo got killed in Little Italy. I remember when Paul Castellano got killed in front of Sparks Steakhouse.
So it was always the element of those guys. When I was bartending, these made guys would come in and make me keep the bar open for them. So, it was always some elements that I was around. I thought it was infinitely interesting, the social clubs where the mobsters would hang out. I liked that world. Something about that world really intrigued me.
I love the diversity of the show. I love that Richard has a diverse family… I love that this guy is a mastermind in terms of being a criminal, and that his father was part of the mafia, the old mafia. I love that he changed his name, that he came up with this new identity. That he’s like an octopus, you know? I always try to find an animal when I decide on a character. What animal is he?
And I was like, oh, he’s an octopus, because he’s got his hands in everything. He’s always moving. He’s always changing shape and form… And then, obviously, the cherry on top is that he’s a sociopath. [Laughs]
TVLINE | We know that Richard and Stabler are going to come into each other’s orbits pretty quickly. What can you tell me about when those two men, who have very big personalities, interact with each other for the first time?
Stabler definitely needs a foe, a formidable foe. Otherwise, the show wouldn’t work. Because that kind of conflict, that standoff is so necessary on a show like this. So, you have to have somebody who can take him on, and I think that Richard can take on Stabler. In fact, he looks forward to it. That’s what turns him on. You know what I mean? He’s one of these criminals that like to leave a note to let you know he was there. There’s something about it that turns him on, the getting away with it. I think he looks forward to this challenge, you know?
TVLINE | Is he aware of Stabler before Episode 2?
No. Maybe in periphery, he knows that he’s there. But you’ll see, it’ll be the first time that we meet, but he’s toying with him to a certain degree. I think that he likes that. I think that he gets off on it. He likes to poke, and he’s going to do a lot of that with Stabler.
TVLINE | This is completely not important, but Richard’s Irish wolfhounds made me very happy.
TVLINE | They’re so gorgeous.
TVLINE | That animal is a choice, right? That animal is telling people, “I have money, I have taste.” Will we see them a lot through the season?
Also, they’re the biggest dogs. [Laughs] There’s a metaphor in that. I don’t think you can find a bigger dog on the planet, and he’s got three of them. So, you know, it’s certainly a statement. [Laughs] Yeah, I’m sure we’re going to see them intermittently throughout the season.
TVLINE | On a similar note: I haven’t been able to stop thinking about your comment about how each character you play is an animal of some sort. So now I want to find out which animals some of your other characters were. For instance, The Practice‘s Bobby Donnell?
Bobby Donnell really was a tiger. He would fight to the very end for his clients. He would never give up. He would die before he would give up.
TVLINE | Other end of the spectrum: LA to Vegas‘ Captain Dave. I was so sad when that show ended.
Me too. Oh man, I could do that show forever. I could’ve done that show for the rest of my life and been a happy man. I just loved being that silly. That’s really who I am, at the end of the day. If you ask me one character that I play, would be Captain Dave. Captain Dave would have to be the capuchin monkey. [Laughs]
TVLINE | OK, one more: American Horror Story‘s Dr. Ben Harmon.
Oh, yes. Dr. Ben would have to be the python.