Actor Spotlight is a feature in which the career of a singular actor is analysed. We discuss their life, career and the impact they had on their projects.
spotlight #56 – christopher meloni (oz, l&o: svu, happy)
Having started his acting career in 1998, Christopher Meloni has worked steadily over those three decades, appearing in iconic television series as well as some successful films, eclectic in their variety.
I have been a fan of Meloni’s for many years and have seen a wide array of his projects, which are discussed below.
Between 1999 and 2011, Meloni held two important yet very opposite television roles on high-profile shows – bisexual, psychopathic serial killer Chris Keller on HBO’s Oz and happily married, by the book Detective Elliot Stabler on Law and Order SVU.
He began playing Keller in 1998 and Stabler in 1999. For five years, there was an overlap where Meloni played both roles simultaneously – starting his work day on one side of the law, finishing on the other, until Oz ended in 2003. He left SVU by choice in 2011.
Throughout his time on both shows, Meloni worked primarily with two scene partners in entirely different contexts. Actor Lee Tergesen played Tobias Beecher, Keller’s on-screen lover on Oz while Mariska Hargitay played Olivia Benson, Stabler’s professional partner on SVU.
For someone who is known for long-running roles in mature television series, a lot of Meloni’s film work has been though is not limited to, comedy. His film appearances include: Wet Hot American Summer, two Harold & Kumar movies (as different characters), Superman-centered Man of Steel and 2017’s Snatched, with Amy Schumer.
After spending so much time dealing with the dead, Meloni crossed over himself with a main role as the vampire Roman on the fifth season of vampire drama True Blood, which marked a return to HBO.
Between 2017 and 2019, Meloni starred as Nick Sax and executive produced Happy! on Syfy. The series combined live-action and animation, with adult humour and violence.
Much like Stabler was a decorated NYPD detective, Sax was the opposite.
Happy! concluded after two seasons and it is unknown as of writing what Meloni’s next major project will be.