Tonight’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is brought to you in part by Mad Men, Persons Unknown and True Blood. Actors from all three series guest-star in tonight’s “Branded,” which also introduces Melissa Sagemiller (Sleeper Cell) as new ADA Gillian “Jill” Hardwicke.
Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey on Mad Men), Jason Wiles (Joe Tucker on Persons Unknown) and Kevin Alejandro (Jesus Velasquez on True Blood) all portray victims of the same serial rapist, who beats and brands them. The episode also guest-stars David Alan Grier.
Alejandro told Jim Halterman that their appearances on other notable shows isn’t as big a boon to their careers as you might think. “Some people I think wrongfully assume that once you’ve been on a show like either one of us has been on that it’s just a gravy train with biscuit wheels from that point on. And that is not the truth. I’d like to state that. We still have to audition. We still have to hustle. But it is nice when you walk into an audition room and the people actually know who you are and actually have an idea of what your work is and enjoy it. That’s a nice change.”
He said the role also presented the challenge of stepping outside his comfort zone. “I think for me it’s just allowing myself to find a place within that I can tap into and that’s because I’ve obviously never experienced anything quite like this. But, the biggest challenge was trying to figure out where to go and what a person would feel in circumstances like that.”
Gladis added: “I’d never done things like a courtroom scene or a bedside scene or a fainting scene where you’re really so drugged and injured that you faint. The challenge is not to make those moments stereotypical. You’ve seen them a million times before in your life. You’ve seen a million different actors do them, and then all fo a sudden, it’s your turn to do it. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know if I succeeded, but the main challenge for me was to make those moments as truthful as possible.”
It isn’t the actor’s first visit to the Law & Order brand, however; he’s been seen in two episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, including the episode “Love Sick,” which aired in May of this year.
In fact, there are a few connections among tonight’s new faces. Jason Wiles is best known as Officer Maurice “Bosco” Boscorelli on Third Watch, on which Gladis appeared for four episodes in 2003. Melissa Sagemiller starred as Gayle Bishop in Sleeper Cell, and in the second season, Kevin Alejandro joined her as a series regular.
“Branded” airs tonight at 9 PM on NBC. Check back here immediately thereafter for Clarissa’s review of the episode, and stay tuned later this week for my interview with the woman behind the new ADA, Melissa Sagemiller.