Celebrities You Forgot Appeared On Law & Order: SVUPublished on March 14, 2018. Updated September 20, 2019
Police procedural series have dominated TV for quite some time now, but few have seen quite the success that Law & Order: SVU has. As the longest-running scripted and non-animated American primetime TV series right now, and with almost 20 seasons come and gone, there has been a lot of opportunities for people to join in smaller roles. Like with many popular shows, fans are limited to regular audiences, and celebrities get attached as well and jump at the chance to be a part of the series, if even for a small time, and for others, such a largely watched show is a great stepping stone in their career. Check out 15 celebrities you forgot appeared on Law & Order: SVU:
15. Jennifer Love Hewitt
From starring in series and movies to making guest appearances on shows, Jennifer Love Hewitt has done it all including taking on a role in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Hewitt appeared in the season 12 episode “Behave,” as Vicki Sayers, a rape victim who had been attacked by the same man multiple times but is so afraid she won’t co-operate with the investigation at first. Although it was only a small part on the series, the role was huge for Hewitt personally. ” I think it was extremely important. Initially, when I read the script and I heard about the episode, it was very exciting, as an actress. When I got there and I met Mariska, and I met the women from her Foundation, and I was a part of this cast and crew who work so incredibly hard, but who, after 12 years, care so much about the quality and the value of the things that they’re saying and doing, it really transcended acting for me,” she said.
14. Bradley Cooper
Back in 2005, Bradley Cooper wasn’t quite the superstar he is today, and fresh off his role as the villain in Wedding Crashers, he played the part just as well for an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Cooper appeared in the episode “Day” as defense lawyer Jason Whitaker who becomes the prime suspect in a series of rape cases. Cooper was extremely creepy as Whitaker, and his role is most notable because it is what spawned the short-lived spinoff Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Now, Cooper has gone on to major film roles and is one of the most sought-after men in Hollywood, making his time on Law & Order: SVU long forgotten.
13. Zoe Saldana
Like her Guardians of the Galaxy co-star, actress Zoe Saldana also made an appearance on the hit series before her major film roles. Back in 2004, Saldana appeared in the fifth season of Law & Order: SVU in the episode “Criminal” as Gabrielle Vega. Gabrielle was the daughter of Javier, a reformed heroin addict who gets framed for the murder of his fiancee and works to clear her dad’s name when all the odds are against him. Interestingly enough, Saldana’s role came five years after her very first acting role which happened to be on an episode of Law & Order in which she appeared in two episodes as a character named Belinca.
12. Ian Somerhalder
Before becoming one of TV’s biggest actors as Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries, Ian Somerhalder began his career with small roles in different TV series and films including in Law & Order SVU. Somerhalder appeared in season four’s “Dominance” as Charlie Baker, a sexually deranged individual behind several sexual assaults and murders. The episode was certainly jarring, and it wasn’t long before Somerhalder’s TV career began to take off with a recurring role in the superhero hit drama Smallville, and a recurring role in the massively popular series Lost.
11. Melissa Joan Hart
After spending most of her life as a teenager and young adult on screen with Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, Melissa Joan Hart’s on-screen appearances slowed down in the mid-2000s. In that time though, she took on a much more serious role than fans were used to from the actress in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Hart appeared in the season nine episode “Impulsive” and played Sarah Trent, a teacher who is accused of sexually assaulting her student. After it is discovered she is pregnant and tried to have an abortion, Benson and Stabler find out it was the student who attacked and assaulted her. After a few more TV appearances and TV movies, Hart returned to the small screen in a big way with the sitcom Melissa & Joey from 2010-2015.
10. Cynthia Nixon
For most audiences, Cynthia Nixon will be always be known as Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City. After the series came to an end, Nixon moved away from the character by appearing in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. Nixon appeared in the season nine premiere as Janis Donovan, a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder, who is suspected of harming her own daughter. Despite only appearing in one episode, Nixon made such an impact on the series that she won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role.
9. Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere began acting at a very young age, and through several of her roles, she appeared on Law & Order: SVU not once but twice. The Nashville star first guest starred in the 2001 episode “Abuse” as a young girl named Ashley who was harming herself for her parent’s attention. Four years later she made her second appearance on the series in “Hooked,” but that time as a mean teenage girl, named Angela, who it is discovered after her best friend is murdered that she was working as a prostitute. One year later she took on her then biggest TV role as Claire Bennett in Heroes.
8. Sarah Hyland
Numerous Modern Family stars have appeared on the popular crime drama, but Sarah Hyland, much like Hayden Panettiere, had not one but two roles on the series. Hyland’s first appearance was in the season three premiere episode “Repression” at only 11 years old and eight years later she guest starred in “Hothouse.” In “Hothouse” Hyland starred as a child prodigy who kills another intelligent girl and it is soon discovered that she is sleep-deprived and taking drugs. The same year of her second appearance, Hyland began starring as Haley Dunphy in Modern Family and all of her past roles were quickly forgotten.
7. Paul Wesley
Not only did Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder star in The Vampire Diaries together, but both had recurring roles on Smallville and they also both appeared on Law & Order: SVU. Back in 2000, Wesley appeared in only season two of the show with “Wrong is Right.” In the episode, Wesley appeared as Danny Burrell, the best friend of a man who murdered his adoptive father. Five years later, the handsome actor made his second Law & Order: SVU appearance with the season seven episode “Ripped.” Wesley starred as Luke Breslin, the son of Stabler’s former partner who comes under suspicion of attacking a classmate and eventually shoots his father after years of abuse. Only four years later, Wesley would land the part of Stefan Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries in what would become his biggest TV role.
6. Viola Davis
Viola Davis is one of TV’s most stunning and talented actresses, but before her Oscar-winning role in Fences or taking the lead on her own hit series How To Get Away With Murder, she appeared on Law & Order: SVU. From 2003-2008 she guest starred in seven episodes as defense attorney Donna Emmett. Unfortunately, even through seven episodes there was little opportunity for Davis to really display her talents and as bigger and better roles came along, her time on the show was left behind, and she never looked back.
5. Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett is a TV icon who has left her mark on every project she takes part in, including of course Law & Order: SVU. Back in 2009, Burnett guest starred in the season 10 episode “Ballerina” as Birdie Sulloway, the wife of a murdered man and the prime suspect in his death. Burnett really was a dancer in her life and footage of her dancing was really used in the episode. Along with Law & Order: SVU, Burnett made appearances in other popular series in recent years including Glee and Hawaii Five-0.
4. John Stamos
Since John Stamos’ entire acting career has been defined by his role as Jesse Katsopolis on Full House and Fuller House, it is easy for fans of the actor to forget he has appeared in other roles. In 2011, Stamos appeared in the Law & Order: SVU episode “Bang” in season 12 as Ken Turner, a “reproductive abuser” who “has an undeniable urge to father children and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.” In the end, Stamos’ character was killed, meaning Ken Turner could never make a reappearance.
3. Hilary Duff
After Lizzie McGuire went off the air, Hilary Duff slowed down her acting career, but in 2009 she made a surprising appearance on Law & Order: SVU’s season 10 episode “Selfish.”Duff played a “young and irresponsible” mother, Ashlee Walker, who is accused of murdering her young child. Benson and Stabler soon discover that the child died from a measles outbreak and work to track down the mother of the child who started the outbreak because she refused to immunize him. The small part started a reemergence of Duff on TV as that same year she guest-starred in six episodes of the hit teen series Gossip Girl.
2. Five ‘Riverdale’ Stars
Multiple The Vampire Diaries stars and multiple Modern Family actors were on Law & Order: SVU before their hit series took off, and the same can be said for five stars of the new teen drama Riverdale. Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper), Casey Cott (Kevin Keller), Luke Perry (Fred Andrews), Skeet Ulrich (FP Jones), and Marisol Nichols (Hermione Lodge) all appeared in different episodes of the police procedural over the years.
1. Milo Ventimiglia
Milo Ventimiglia was best known as Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls and Peter Petrelli on Heroes and all of that has now been overshadowed by his role as Jack Pearson on This Is Us. Before all that, however, he made a small appearance on Law & Order: SVU in season five’s “Escape.”Ventimiglia appeared as Lee Healy, the victim of a convicted child molester who ends up being rescued by Olivia Benson.