Actress Nia Vardalos steps into Law & Order: SVU on January 30 as a deceptively tough defense attorney character in the episode “Criminal Hatred”.
Although most fans know Nia Vardalos from her breakout role in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, fans will see a new side of Vardalos in Law & Order: SVU when she plays a low-budget defense attorney in a case surrounding a man who targets and brutally attacks other men.
ADA Barba (Raul Esparza) attempts to file charges, but the case soon spirals as he contends with Vardalos’ hardball and formidable legal defense.
In the days leading up to Law & Order: SVU and “Criminal Hatred”, The Deadbolt spent a few minutes with Nia Vardalos to get the scoop on her first time guest stint on SVU.
THE DEADBOLT: Can you talk about how you connected to the character and who you used for inspiration to play a defense attorney?
NIA VARDALOS: Yes, I have a cousin to illustrate any situation. With the twenty eight of us [cousins], there is always somebody. And of course, I have a cousin who is a prosecutor and now a judge in Cook County, Illinois.
When I worked at Second City in Chicago, on my days off I would go and watch her in the courtroom because it was just fascinating to me. When I was teaching classes at Second City, they had a few lawyers taking improvisational classes because they felt that it would make them a little quicker on their feet.
So I used my cousin as the inspiration for this character. Not the look but for the fierceness and the tenacity.
THE DEADBOLT: Stepping into the role of a defense attorney, how does that change your mindset in relation to the characters you’ve played in the past?
VARDALOS: It would probably be the same in that my character’s and I – I’m the ultimate optimist, so I’d never think anyone was guilty. I felt that about this character as well. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think I’m well suited to play a defense attorney. I’m always on the side of fair trial. And being the middle child, I always want everyone to have their say.
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesday at 9/8c on NBC.