Christopher Meloni is reprising his Elliot Stabler role from Law & Order: SVU on a new spinoff and the actor is now opening up about his controversial departure from the series.
Meloni starred on SVU for 12 seasons before being written out of the series without so much as an on-screen farewell.
Many questioned what paved the way for the sudden departure and whether there was bad blood between Meloni and co-star Mariska Hargitay.
Now, in a new interview, Meloni maintains that he exited with "zero animosity."
“How I left was a different issue and had nothing to do with the ‘Law & Order’ people, the ‘SVU’ people or with Dick Wolf,” Meloni explained to the New York Post.
“I left with zero animosity, but I did leave clearly and open-eyed in going forward and finding new adventures."
“I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do, keep moving forward,’” he said.
“I had done the ‘Law & Order’ way of storytelling, which they do really well, and I was interested in telling stories from a different angle — whether comedic or inhabiting a new world or doing it on different platforms.”
The actor followed up the series with roles on the likes of True Blood, Veep, and The Handmaid's Tale.
He said during the interview that his circumstances had changed, and that's why he was happy to return to the franchise when Dick Wolf pitched the new series to him.
“I never thought this was going to happen, but the circumstances for me changed,” he continued to the outlet. “So ‘yes’ became the correct answer.”
Law & Order: Organized Crime focuses on Stabler returning to the NYPD after a personal loss.
“Dick gave me a general brush stroke of the unit that Elliot will be a part of,” Meloni explained. “The whys, what fors, what brings him back to the fold and where he’s been."
Meloni also opened up about a potential reunion between Elliot and Benson.
“It just has to be,” he says.
“Benson and Stabler are inextricably linked, locked and connected. I think there is truly and deeply a worthwhile, inherent drama in exploring that relationship and the complexity of how Stabler left — the unresolved emotions both characters feel and how the fans feel.”
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.