The round of chemistry reads seemed to do their trick because when Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni met, Dick Wolf recalled that it made the reason for casting obsolete. Wolf reminded his lead actor that she was meant to continue the audition with the remaining potential leads.
“Then what happened?” Hargitay asked during the panel. “Why didn’t you do that?”
“Because… why would I do that?” Wolf replied honestly. The PaleyFest moderator concisely surmised that the moment the two walked in, there was no point in auditioning anyone else. The chemistry between Hargitay and Meloni was obvious. Hargitay agreed, saying: “There was an explosion that happened.”
That explosion continued on and off for the entirety of the show. Stabler and Benson became a staple of the series with his hot-headed need for justice and her resolute empathy for the victims. Even when Meloni left “SVU” for a cool decade, the dynamic between the two characters remained iconic. Fans yearned for the intimate dynamic between the police partners to come to fruition, and now with Meloni onboard for “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” that dream remains alive. Without that initial batch of chemistry reads, it’s doubtful “SVU” would be the show we know and love.
“There are some times you just know,” Wolf said during the panel. “And you’ve got to be really stupid not to act on a group think. There was no question.”