Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has played host to a wide array of A-list guest stars over its twelve seasons, and continues the trend this season with Jeremy Irons, one of the more respected actors working today. Among his many accomplishments in his decades-long career, Irons won the Academy Award for his role as Claus von Bülow in the 1990 film, Reversal of Fortune. In the January 12 episode, "Mask," Jeremy Irons played Captain Jackson, a man with a sordid past of sexual and alcohol addiction. When Jackson's daughter is raped, the detectives find that Jackson's past, his estrangement from his lesbian daughter, and his role as a sex therapist all put obstacles in the way of the police investigation. Neal Baer, one of the Executive Producers of SVU, also joins the conversation.
USTOWNHALL SPEAKS TO JEREMY IRONS & NEAL BAER OF LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT:
USTH: Law & Order: SVU has been on air in the United States for 12 seasons, so what is it like for you as an actor to come in and step into such an established show?
JEREMY IRONS: Well, you have to watch and see how they do it because they know how to do it. And to a certain extent, you have to listen to – you have to watch the actors who've been doing it for 12 years very carefully because they can do it very well, and they know how to do it and learn from that.
But, you do feel you're entering an area of safety because this is not an experiment. They've honed their craft on all levels doing these programs, and you just hope that as an actor coming in you give them what they want. And, I hope that they would have told me if I wasn't.
Jeremy Irons guest stars on the episode of
Law & Order: SVU, "Mask."
USTH: As far as working in American television versus working in British television, do you see any big differences there?
JEREMY IRONS: Well, I haven't worked in British television for a long time, and I've never worked in series television in that way. I've done on-off plays in the main, apart from Brideshead [Revisited], which was a serial, really, not a series, so this is my sort of first experience. But, I've always felt that America is – I think it could be said that there is a professionalism, which sometimes makes some British work feel a little bit amateur.
Now, that has strengths in it as well, but [American television] is an oiled machine when a program [has] been running for more than 12 years. I don't think we have – well, we have Coronation Street. I suppose that's equivalent [in longevity, but a] different sort of pacing and different sort of subject.
The great thing about Law & Order: SVU is that it deals with subjects which are very important to people and which affect some of a small section of society very much, these different aspects they give to each program, different story lines.
And so, in a way, I think it's remained cutting-edge, which is why after 12 years, it still has such a following. I mean, I think there a few, am I right in saying, few American series which have that sort of [longevity].
NEAL BAER: It's the longest running series right now on TV.
JEREMY IRONS: Yeah. Yeah, well, they must be doing something right. I hope inviting me to do an episode is a good decision.
NEAL BAER: It was a great decision. He's brilliant in the show.
JEREMY IRONS: Thank you, Neal.
USTH: Our thanks to Jeremy Irons and Neal Baer for speaking with us. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit airs Wednesday nights on NBC.