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WWK, Law & Order SVU

NBC

It's not every day one gets a call about being in TV's longest-running drama, Law and Order: SVU, but when that call comes, you answer. Especially when that means you'll be shouting things you'd never imagine saying at Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross and Curb Your Enthusiasm MVP Susie Essman in the freezing cold outside a luxurious New York City townhouse.

I answered the call and mounted my first "public performance" since elementary school, playing the far-reaching role of "Reporter No. 1."

To be honest, I rehearsed my two lines for basically a week. I have never related to The Comeback and this scene more in my entire life. I practiced hitting words differently, saying "Charmaine! Charmaine!" so I didn't sound like Regis Philbin or a newsie. It was a challenge. Fast forward to day of filming and I discovered it was 1. Way too cold to try any kind of inflection other than shouting the line 2. The scene was a lot quicker than I was playing it in my head.

Below, please find the slightly embarrassing diary of my whirlwind two days as an "actor" on Law and Order: SVU. "Actor" is in quotes because I am not an actor, as you will clearly see.

Chris Harnick, Behind The Scenes, Law & Order, SVU

Chris Harnick/E! Entertainment

Thursday, Feb. 5

5:56 p.m. I finally got a cab and the driver is making it no secret that he has any respect for human life as he zips down 7th Ave. He almost gets in three accidents and I'm running late. By the way, it's freezing out.

6:07 p.m. OK, I'm not that late. Once there, Erin from wardrobe takes me behind the stages as unseen actors film a scene. Not sure who was filming, but it's always amazing seeing what goes on behind the scenes of a TV show.

6:10 p.m. I'm trying on clothes in front of this woman I just met and did I mention how cold it was? My nose won't stop running as I'm putting on and pulling off various pants and jackets.

6:16 p.m. My first outfit is very gray. Thankfully we rectify that. Surprisingly, the shoes fit me!

6:20 p.m. Did the last person who wore this on the show play a perp? These are the questions going through my head.

6:25 p.m. We decide on an outfit after securing a younger looking coat, gray jeans, a brown-ish checked shirt, blue sweater and blue scarf.

Chris Harnick, Behind The Scenes, Law & Order, SVU

Chris Harnick/E! Entertainment

Friday, Feb. 6

6:05 a.m. My alarm is going off. I didn't sleep well due to excitement, nerves and pain in the butt cats.

6:39 a.m. I'm forcing some cereal down, but there are butterflies up in mah stomach.

7:30 a.m. The subway was very speedy and I'm queasy! That's from the nerves. Listening to "Let Me Be Your Star" from Smash because 1. I'm predictable. 2. I want to get psyched up and ignore the crush of nerves.

7:43 a.m. I'm early, my call time is 8, so I'm wandering, looking for a place to be warm. It is frostbite level cold out. I buy a water bottle at a grocery store despite the fact I already have a water bottle in my bag.

7:57 a.m. After giving Bobby (an AD) a call, I make my way to my trailer. A trailer! Well, it's basically like a cell, but it's warm and inside. I'll take it. Waiting for my hair and makeup and feeling glamorous at just the thought of hair and makeup.

Chris Harnick, Behind The Scenes, Law & Order, SVU

Chris Harnick/E! Entertainment

8:09 a.m. Oh, the nerves.

8:45 a.m. My hair and makeup are done. I did my normal morning routine at home, which involves quelling my mane, and the hair stylist just fixed some fly aways. Makeup, on the other hand, was most welcome. Started with some moisturizer and some other light touch ups and my skin never looked better. Can I get this done every day?

8:57 a.m. My wardrobe is delivered and they included warming layers—Under Armor pants and a thermal shirt—and had warmers in the pockets of my coat. I have never been more excited to put on clothes. Well, really not the socks. I found it weird I had socks to put on, but whatever!

9:12 a.m. I'm on set, which is a huge four-story brownstone. Each room is the size of my apartment. It's mind-boggling. This is where Charmaine Briggs (Marcia Cross) lives with her elderly husband Walter (Robert Vaughn). My scene will be outside and I'm shaking from nerves and the cold. I've never had so many people concerned about my whereabouts.

WWK, Law & Order SVU

NBC

9:16 a.m. Susie Essman arrives at the house; she plays Arlene Heller, an attorney. "This is somebody's house?!" she said when walking in. It was very Susie Green from Curb Your Enthusiasm and I love it. Stars, they're just like us! We're about to start filming outside.

9:26 a.m. We rehearse outside and I'm given my prop, a microphone. There's a problem with the beats and the lines, which production quickly figures out. Best part: One of my lines involves asking about a "rectal probe" and when I land it, Marcia Cross whips around and says "You couldn't afford it!" jokingly. Can cross that off the bucket list! There's a woman whose job it is to just make sure we're warm.

WWK, Law & Order SVU

NBC

10:46 a.m. After about five-seven takes—I lost count—We're done! It's cold! At various points my jaw was so cold I felt like I was slurring my words. So much for all the prep I did in trying different ways to say my two lines. Everything happened so quickly, I didn't really have time to think about how hard I'd hit a certain word or how incredulous I'd make the question sound. I just said the lines and hoped for the best. At various points some extras blocked me in the shot and we had to go again and I felt very important for about 2 minutes. The scene was the only one for myself and the other reporter, and the last scene for Susie Essman too and it was announced that it was a wrap for us, and various crew applauded. I feel ridiculous for being proud of what I did, but I am. It is exciting.

Chris Harnick, Behind The Scenes, Law & Order, SVU

Chris Harnick/E! Entertainment

11(ish) a.m. I head back to my trailer, but first grab some coffee and am happily spilling it all over my gloves because it is warm and I am cold. Now in my regular people clothes [but still in makeup, as seen above], I make my way back to set and watch them set up for the next scene and many seem surprised that Reporter No. 1 is actually a reporter in real life. SVU twist! Throughout the day I chat with Susie Essman, Kelli Giddish—we even explored the townhouse a little bit and the kitchen on the second floor just blew us away—Marcia Cross and Peter Scanavino.

Law and Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)