Law And Order Alum Talks Mariska Hargitay As A 'Female Powerhouse,' Plus How She Wants To Return To The Franchise

Elisabeth Rohm on Law & Order side by side with Mariska Hargitay on SVU
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order is going strong in Season 22, after returning earlier this year for a revival. The hit drama brought back former star Elisabeth Rohm (known for playing ADA Serena Southerlyn during the original run of the series) to work behind the camera and direct an intense episode with a strong focus on Odelya Halevi’s ADA Maroun. After her years as an actress in the Law & Order franchise and her recent return to direct, Rohm opened up about SVU’s Mariska Hargitay as a “powerhouse” and how she herself would want to come back. 

Elisabeth Rohm returned to Law & Order to direct as part of the NBCU LAUNCH Female Forward program, with some experience in directing TV movies before making the jump to episodic network television. The November 10 episode was her first return to the franchise since her four-season run as Serena Southerlyn ended back in 2005. When she spoke with CinemaBlend about the directing experience, I asked whether she would be interested in also directing SVU and Organized Crime one day, and she named Mariska Hargitay as a “powerhouse” of the franchise, saying: 

Absolutely! I've known those guys for a long time. We all started at the same time. I know that Mariska fought really hard for female directors to come to the forefront, and she's also a director as well. So I'm sure it would be an incredibly positive collaborative experience with another female powerhouse. I admire her so much.

Mariska Hargitay has become the face of the Law & Order franchise, starring on SVU for more than 500 episodes and upwards of two decades. She also directed seven episodes of Law & Order: SVU, so it’s safe to say that a collaboration between her and Elisabeth Rohm would bring together two women with plenty of franchise experience in front of the camera as well as behind. 

Rohm went on to compliment Christopher Meloni of Organized Crime, and mentioned the One Chicago shows as three others set in the same TV universe as the Law & Order series. The actress-turned-director is currently committed to the NBC directors program, and shared that “working for them is exciting.” But now that she has returned to Law & Order to direct, would she want to reprise her role as ADA Southerlyn? Rohm weighed in:

People have asked since the reboot was announced, [saying] that they would love that. I would not say no. I would do whatever Rick Eid and Dick Wolf asked of me because what I'm mostly committed to is the Dick Wolf and Wolf [Entertainment] camp and NBC and the Law and Order franchise. I love the shows, and I love what Mariska Hargitay has done with SVU and Chris Meloni [with Organized Crime]. And I love this new Law and Order, so I'd really love to return as a director.

While Rohm didn’t rule out reprising her role as one of the shows’ previous assistant district attorneys if creator Dick Wolf or showrunner Rick Eid asked, directing is how she would “love” to return in the future. She elaborated on the chances of her coming back as an actress vs. coming back as a director:

I'm really thrilled to be in the NBC family and begin to expand out as a director within the studio system, and in Peacock and all of that. I'd love to return as a director. I'd be certainly open to returning as Serena, but there are no plans in the works right now. Right now, I think it's very likely I'll get to return as a director, which would really be a dream come true, but I'm open to anything.

Considering that Law & Order isn’t even halfway through Season 22 and is enough of a hit that it seems safe to say that it will be renewed for Season 23, there are plenty of episodes ahead that Elisabeth Rohm could potentially direct after her first experience with November 10’s “Only the Lonely.”

Elisabeth Rohm directing Law and Order

(Image credit: NBC)

Since that experience was so positive for her, I asked if there was any element that she was particularly proud of after stepping behind the camera on Law & Order. She had two picks, starting with how she was able to work with Odelya Halevi. She said:

Having walked a lot of miles in the ADA’s shoes, it was particularly satisfying and emotional and really thrilling to be able to shoot scenes with Odelya [Halevi], and to watch her soar and just really steal all the scenes that she was in. I was really thrilled to be a small part of that by supporting her, and she and I are a great team. I'm sure it comes from having played her role for so many years, and it was really personal. I was really excited to be a part of her journey.

“Only the Lonely” was a rough episode for Samantha Maroun, but Odelya Halevi shone as an actress in the spotlight. It was an episode that required the services of an intimacy coordinator, and Elisabeth Rohn weighed in on why that was an essential part of the process. The director also named a favorite part of the experience that didn’t involve Halevi, but instead an iconic actor from the original run of the series: the history-making Sam Waterston. Rohm said:

And Sam [Waterston], of course. Having him be proud of me and rooting for me, and I stayed in touch with him over all these years. He's just been amazing all along. When I did American Hustle, he was rooting for me, and then when I started directing, he was rooting for me. He knows how important it was for me to take this step, and he was cheering for me the whole way. That was really hard to describe, but really deeply personal.

Interestingly, Odelya Halevi was also full of praise for Waterston as a colleague earlier this year. Elisabeth Rohm and the Law & Order icon worked together on a regular basis while she was on board to play ADA Southerlyn, and his support in her return clearly meant a lot to her. This episode was Rohm’s first-ever network TV episode as a director, and a big step for her in the directing stage of her career. 

If you missed Elisabeth Rohm’s episode of Law & Order, called “Only the Lonely,” you can find it and many more streaming now with a Peacock Premium subscription. New episodes of the long-running drama will continue to air on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, but it’s not too soon to check out the 2023 TV premiere schedule for when the biggest shows on television will be back in the new year. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.