Law And Order's Jeffrey Donovan Talks Anthony Anderson's Exit And Meeting New Star Mehcad Brooks

Law & Order wrapped its 21st season back in May without any stressful cliffhangers and the entire cast of series regulars seemingly intact, but it wasn’t long after the finale that news broke that original series star Anthony Anderson was departing after just one revival season. That left Sam Waterston as the only regular from the original run of the series and Jeffrey Donovan’s Det. Frank Cosgrove without a partner. Now, the show has added Supergirl alum Mehcad Brooks to fill the vacancy. Donovan spoke with CinemaBlend and opened up about both meeting Brooks and losing Anderson.

Although Jeffrey Donovan was best known for Burn Notice ahead of landing the series regular role on Law & Order, his character quickly became an essential part of the NBC show’s investigative team. No details are available just yet about how Cosgrove will interact with Mehcad Brooks’ new character compared to Anthony Anderson’s Det. Kevin Bernard, but speaking with CinemaBlend’s Sarah El-Mahmoud, he opened up about losing his former co-star and meeting his new one:

So, I met Mehcad over Zoom and he's a fine young gentleman and I'm looking forward to working with him and I will, as will many on the cast and crew, miss Anthony, but he's in charge of his own destiny. And he helped create a buzz about this first season which I'm eternally grateful for, because as we walk down the streets of New York, they yell 'Anthony, Anthony, and the other guy from Burn Notice,' so you know, his notoriety certainly drew eyes, and I'm very appreciative of that.

While Anthony Anderson didn’t return to Law & Order to stay for longer than one season, he was arguably the biggest name attached to the revival. Sam Waterston has had a longer run on the drama (to the point that he makes history with his Season 22 return in the fall), but Anderson is an established comedian who came to Law & Order fresh off of the end of black-ish on ABC. As Jeffrey Donovan pointed out, that extra buzz certainly didn’t hurt the show in its return to NBC.

Mehcad Brooks has some big shoes to fill, but he has more than proved himself on television as a longtime star of Supergirl. In fact, Jeffrey Donovan reacted to Brooks’ coming to Law & Order with an existing following from the superhero series, saying:

Yet another more prominent and famous guy walking down the street to draw attention away from me. I love it.

Jeffrey Donovan seems optimistic about Law & Order moving forward, and who can blame him after the successful Season 21 leading into Law & Order: SVU on NBC’s Thursday night lineup? The focus is always more on the cases than the characters, so there’s no reason to fear that the loss of Anthony Anderson will turn the show upside down, even if the cast, crew, and fans will miss him. 

Donovan’s mention of “another more prominent and famous guy” is worth a laugh, with his own extensive TV experience as star of USA’s Burn Notice for seven seasons and more than 100 episodes, all of which you can revisit streaming with a Hulu subscription. The actor went on to share that fans calling out to Anthony Anderson on the street more than him as “the other guy from Burn Notice” is something that he has experienced in the past:

By the way, that's a callback too. I visited the troops with Bruce Campbell and in Iraq back in 2009. And when we landed, there was a line around the block of the cantina where all of the soldiers were, there's like a hundred of them. And they all started yelling, 'Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce,' and then one guy goes 'And the other guy from Burn Notice!' So, that's what it's from. I'm fine being the other guy from whatever. I'm fine with that.

Jeffrey Donovan shared the screen with Ash vs. Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell for Burn Notice, and Campbell had the additional horror cred of the Evil Dead franchise to his name as well as the USA series. Plus, Burn Notice (which ran from 2007-2013) was only a couple of years into its run at this point. He’s undoubtedly more recognizable by this point, and that will only grow the more time that he spends at the forefront of Law & Order, alongside Mehcad Brooks moving forward.

You don’t have to wait until Law & Order Season 22 to see Jeffrey Donovan on the screen, as he appears in First Love, a movie set during the financial crisis in 2008 with his character laid off and searching for a new job. Diane Kruger of Inglourious Basterds plays his wife, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s Heroes Fiennes Tiffin plays his son. First Love arrives in theaters and on demand on Friday, June 17. You can also revisit Season 21 of Law & Order streaming with a Peacock subscription now

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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).