The SVU portion of the event, which airs on NBC Thursday at 9/8c, will find Peter Scanavino‘s assistant district attorney Sonny Carisi trying Wheatley for the murder of Det. Stabler’s wife, Kathy. Complicating matters: Wheatley’s lawyer, Rafael Barba — played by a returning Raúl Esparza —, is Carisi’s mentor and a Friend Of SVU… at least, he is before the trial starts. (The Organized Crime hour that follows at 10 is titled “The Christmas Episode.”)
So of course we got Scanavino on the phone to game out the trial. Plus, because we hadn’t talked to him in a while, we definitely chatted about all things Rollins and Carisi, from that monumental kiss at Fin and Phoebe’s wedding to how the fledgling couple might handle some curveballs ahead. Read on to hear Scanavino’s thoughts on the crossover, how he learned ‘Rollisi’ was getting rolling and whether Sonny will be part of the upcoming Law & Order revival. (Oh — and because we talked about some stuff that we can’t reveal until after the episodes have aired, there are parts of the conversation we’re holding back. Make sure to visit TVLine Thursday evening for the rest of the goods.)
TVLINE | Talk to me about how Carisi’s feeling as he goes into this gigantic trial against his former colleague.
It’s a big deal, you know what I mean? It’s a lot of responsibility. He’s also co-chairing with [Bureau Chief Phillip] Baptiste, who’s from the Homicide Department, so, he’s got his superior overseeing him and giving some pretty tough odds during the case. But then it’s against Barba, as well, and that’s always fun. [Carisi has] always got something to prove in front of his former mentor, but it really seems like one of those cases where there’s a lot of moving parts, and is Carisi up to deal with all those moving parts? [Laughs] It’s a fast-moving case. Sometimes, things drop out, and then it’s a challenge for him, for sure, and I don’t think he’s taking it lightly.
TVLINE | Stabler figures heavily in these episodes. On a related note, Carisi is close to Liv, they’re good friends.
TVLINE | And here comes this man, who has blown up her life in several different ways, right? I’m wondering if there’s any tension there between Carisi and Stabler, on Liv’s behalf.
Well, God, you know, I never knew them together. And I don’t know how open she’s been with me about her history. It’s kind of one of those things, maybe, not let sleeping dogs lie, but you know, the past is the past. But I do think I see, and my character can see, how, in some ways, this might not be the healthiest relationship right now, given what my job is. I think he knows and respects Stabler, obviously, but he’s definitely more protective of Liv because she’s closer to him, she’s more formative in who he was. So, from somebody that’s close with her saying, “Who is this guy? Is this good for her? Is this not?” I think that’s how he’s viewing it.
TVLINE | I haven’t talked to you since the end of last season, when, you know, a little something happened between your and Kelli Giddish’s characters…
Right. Right. [Laughs]
TVLINE | So can you take me back to when you first knew they were going to pull the trigger, and what your thoughts were about that?
I remember reading the script, and then, at the end, it was “Rollins kisses Carisi,” and I was like, “What?! Oh my God!” [Laughs] I texted Kelli immediately and said, “We kiss in the next episode,” which is weird, because Kelli and I are such good friends. But it’s also this earned payoff of what they’ve been building over the past eight years…
I like the direction that they went in. It didn’t feel forced to me. It felt very earned. So, yeah, I mean that was kind of my reaction. It was excitement, because it’s also character development, as well. It’s them throwing you a bone, and it’s something that you get to focus on, you know, in the relationship outside of the squad. It just makes things more interesting, more dangerous, in a way. Like, there’s all kinds of implications with this relationship. So, I was happy about it.
TVLINE | I loved when he was cooking her pasta while they were talking about a case.
TVLINE | Though I tweeted at the time about how I don’t understand how Carisi keeps his t-shirt so gleamingly white when he cooks.
He’s a clean cook, you know what I mean? He knows how to avoid the splatter. He doesn’t crush the tomatoes unless his hands are submerged, and he knows all the tricks. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Donal Logue is coming back soon as Declan Murphy, and obviously, he’s the father of Rollins’ older daughter. Do your two characters have any interaction when he’s back?
We don’t have any interaction, actually. I’m not in that episode. But, you know, I’ve wondered. [Rollins and Carisi are] obviously pretty close, and I’m close to the kids in the fictional backstory of what I’ve come up with. So, I’m sure he totally knows who the father is, and that’s something that they’ve probably spoken about. I don’t see how it would be anything contentious or dramatic, but who knows? It’s the name of the game with this show. So, it could be. I don’t know.
TVLINE | Along those lines, Sgt. Kaldun is coming back, as well — and he and Rollins might have gone on a date at one point. I realize this is turning into a Tiger Beat magazine interview or something, and I sincerely apologize for that, but I’m wondering how his arrival might affect things. Because no one knows they’re together, right?
[Laughs] Right. You know I think he’s probably pretty secure in the relationship, because I do think it’s not something that they’re taking very lightly. They’ve been able to keep this going. Given their two jobs, they’ve got to be very forthright with it, express and talk to each other and communicate, and I don’t think he thinks this is a tenuous thing in terms of the feelings involved. It might be tenuous given the circumstances.
TVLINE | As you mentioned Carisi has been doing some work with Homicide, branching out a little bit, and coincidentally, there happens to be a Law & Order revival coming up pretty soon. Have you had any interaction with that?
Well, I’ve had no interaction with the original Law & Order, but if that were to open up, I’m definitely game for it. I think it’s really interesting, the crossover possibilities and all that. I would obviously love to meet Sam Waterston, just as a personal thing. You know, I used to watch original Law & Order with my mother when I was a kid, and now I’m part of that world. That’d be nice to be full circle, I suppose.
TVLine | Is that totally surreal? Like, you used to watch these people on these sets, and now you are that person on that set. That would blow my mind.
Yeah. I mean, I’m not going to lie to you. Sometimes people come up to me on the street and they’re like, “You’re ADA Carisi!” And I’m like, no s–t, I am! I am the ADA! [Laughs] How did that happen? So, it still, to this day, kind of blows my mind, you know?
TVLINE | Yeah. That’s amazing.
I don’t forget that I’m on the show, but I guess I forget the importance of it, sometimes. And then somebody will point me out on the subway, or whatever, walking down the street, and you kind of go, “Oh, this is kind of a big deal. How did I get here?” [Laughs] That’s amazing. All right.