Celebrities Spotted on Law & Order Before Their Big Break


Law and Order SVU is just one of the seven branches of the Law & Order Franchise. With Law & Order SVU’s episode count totaling 454 episodes of the franchise’s 1000 odd episodes, it’s no surprise that a wealth of A list actors can be spotted on the show. Here are some of the top names that graced the SVU set.

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Viola Davis

Viola Davis is widely known for her commanding portrayal of lawyer, Annalise Keating on NBC’s How to Get Away With Murder. She may however owe some of this award-winning performance (think Emmy, People’s Choice, SAG, etc.) to her previous role on Law & Order SVU. Davis portrayed defense attorney, Donna Emmett, who only shows up in seven episodes throughout different seasons of the show, it could have likely played a huge part in landing her the leading role in HTGAWM.

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Elizabeth Banks

Banks has arguably one of the more colorful storylines in SVU, playing a porn star that has been hired to travel to Vegas for a 24-hour livestream that will broadcast her encounters with 1000 men. To top it off, her and her husband (also a pornstar) have stayed in the business to support their child’s hefty medical bills.

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Bradley Cooper

Before Bradley Cooper was Bradley Cooper, he landed a role as an estate lawyer in Law & Order SVU. His character also crossed over into Law & Order Trial by Jury. This isn’t the only time Bradley Cooper plays alongside Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler). The two can also be seen together in Wet Hot American Summer.

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Sarah Hyland

Before landing her starring role as Hailey Dunphy in Modern Family, Hyland can be seen on a couple different episodes of Law & Order SVU as well as a couple other branches of the larger Law & Order franchise. She’s not the only member of the Dunphey clan to be seen on the SVU set. Her TV parents, Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen also appear in separate issues.

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Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L Jackson technically plays a guest role on season 1 of Law and Order, before SVU was created but it’s definitely worth mentioning. This episode was filmed in 1991 just before Samuel L Jackson landed his iconic roles in movies like Pulp Fiction.

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Rainn Wilson

Best known for his portrayal of Dwight Schrute on The Office, Rainn Wilson has played a myriad of minor, and often strange, roles. In the episode titled “Waste” in season 4 of Law and Order SVU, Wilson can be seen briefly working as a janitor.

Orange Is the New Black

To top it all off, several main characters on the hit show Orange is the New Black has played a role on Law & Order SVU. Natasha Lyonne plays a mental patient in a 2011 episode, Kate Mulgrew can be spotted in Season 7, and Taryn Manning appears as Larissa Welsh in Season 12.