Why Law And Order: Organized Crime's Dylan McDermott Thinks Fans Responded So Much To His Character

law and order organized crime richard wheatley dylan mcdermott nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order: Organized Crime debuted in the 2020-2021 TV season as the long-awaited SVU spinoff that finally brought Christopher Meloni back as Detective Elliot Stabler, but it also delivered a serialized story, some sky-high stakes, and a major threat in the form of Dylan McDermott's Richard Wheatley. Stabler's dogged pursuit of Wheatley over the course of Organized Crime's first season ended with Wheatley behind bars, but McDermott is coming back for Season 2. The actor recently shared why he thinks fans responded so strongly to his character now that Season 2 is approaching.

Richard Wheatley was obviously the big bad of Season 1, even if it was Tamara Taylor's Angela Wheatley who technically ordered the hit on Kathy Stabler, so why did he provoke such a strong and not entirely negative response from fans? Was it because Organized Crime needed an imposing villain played by an actor who could go head-to-head with Christopher Meloni? Was it because Wheatley was the first really serialized villain in the Law & Order franchise in recent memory? Or did fans just love Wheatley for his sneaky speech about the true love of Stabler's life? According to Dylan McDermott in a chat with ET, there's another reason entirely:

Sometimes these characters come along and they just take over… And you get out of the way. So, there’s something about this character that’s just so fulfilling for me. And then, of course, the audience is responding because you’re so into it. It’s infectious.

Dylan McDermott believes that his investment in playing Richard Wheatley comes across in the performance and draws the strong response from viewers, and it's hard to argue with that! Plus, McDermott enjoying playing Wheatley so much evidently means that he was of course willing to reprise the role for Season 2, even though Wheatley was arrested and the actor is on board in a recurring capacity rather than a series regular.

There were still some big questions left unanswered regarding Wheatley and his family by the end of Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 1, so it would have been a shame if Dylan McDermott wasn't going to return at all. The promise of recurring appearances could mean that Wheatley becomes something of a nemesis for Stabler even behind bars, but only time will tell. McDermott did go on to indicate that Wheatley might not exactly be content to stay behind those bars any longer than necessary:

I think it’s going to be a barn-burner. I think he’s going to go nonstop. I mean, this is a guy who is plotting, who is scheming, who is doing push-ups all day long and getting ready to get out [of prison].

Richard Wheatley managed to order a hit on his ex-wife using a cell phone to pull strings via a member of the Organized Crime task force within hours of his arrest, so just imagine what he could do after he has more time to think and plan. Revenge seems like it could be on his mind, which wouldn't bode well for the Stabler family and possibly even Law & Order: SVU's Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay. Then again, for Wheatley's many moral failings, he wasn't unintelligent, so perhaps revenge would be too trite of an endgame goal for him.

Only time and Season 2 will tell, but the good news is that the beginning of Season 2 isn't too far off. Law & Order: Organized Crime returns to NBC for its second season on Thursday, September 23 at 10 p.m. ET, immediately following the Season 23 premiere of Law & Order: SVU. Previously, another Law & Order spinoff was planning to premiere and give NBC a full Law & Order Thursday, but plans changed back in July. September will be packed with premieres, so be sure to check out our 2021 fall TV schedule for what to watch and when to watch it.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. 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).