Philip Winchester's prosecutor Peter Stone was introduced within NBC's Chicago franchises as the lead for the short-lived legal drama Chicago Justice, but fans hadn't seen the last of him. He later appeared on Chicago Med and, perhaps more importantly, Winchester signed on with creator Dick Wolf's other interconnected universe at Law & Order: SVU. The actor spoke with CinemaBlend about his impending SVU debut (which happens on February 7), and here's what he told me about how intimidating it was to make this franchise leap.
It was good to have an idea of who Peter Stone was, so i wasn't concerned about developing a character and kind of coming up with those ideas. But, in the same sense, it was a little bit of life imitating art, because I was incredibly nervous as a person to come over and meet Mariska and Ice and Peter and Kelli and the crew, who've been doing this for 19 years. So there was that 'figuring each other out' process. Even in the scenes and in the writing, the people are testing each other and getting to know each other, and it was definitely the same thing on set, which worked. I think it develops something onscreen which was genuine and organic. And now we're working out of that; we're getting to know each other and it's becoming easier to do this stuff together. Michael Chernuchin gave me some great uncomfortable stuff to do with these characters and in the courtroom, so it was a good road in. A steady road in.
Philip Winchester's introduction on Law & Order: SVU is quite an interesting one, as far as everyone's perspectives are concerned. For one, Peter Stone is coming in for an unfortunate situation involving his father Benjamin (who was part of the original Law & Order lineup). He's then tasked to help out on a case by Jack McCoy, with franchise vet Sam Waterston making his first return to the role in eight years. So one might think that the SVU team would welcome Stone with some sympathy and open arms.
However, Stone is asked to help with a "right-to-die" case concerning an infant, which immediately puts both him and Jack at odds with Benson, Barba and others. So that definitely explains why Philip Winchester brought up the characters testing each other in these early days. As the new guy in town, Stone is ruffling feathers where he shouldn't be, since Benson's feathers will snuff someone out right quick. In any case, Winchester is going from playing the clear protagonist lead on Chicago Justice to playing someone that, while not a villain, will be a catalyst for chaos within the SVU. That's a fairly rare and highly intriguing kind of character introduction.
To that end, I asked Philip Winchester what he thought the fan reaction would be like to Stone immediately drawing Benson's ire.
What I can tell right now is that there is a very real contingency of diehard fans for this show. Myself included; I watch this show, and I get it. I get why, because these characters are real and we care about them. We get to go home with them, we get to see who they are behind the badge. Look, I don't know. [laughs] We'll see what happens. We've got some good courtroom stuff. Sam Waterston came on board. This is a pretty amazing [episode] to come into the franchise with. So we'll see what people think. That's the ultimate test, isn't it?
After nearly two decades on the air, this show still keeps finding new ways to bring these worlds together to keep audiences hooked. Perhaps fans will side with Stone and Jack on the issue, with the SVU team earning fan disdain. That's not very likely, though, since the nameplate does say Law & Order: SVU, and not either of the shows that Stone and Jack originated on.