Law and Order: SVU

Michael Parmelee/NBC

Marcia Cross is back on TV and of course there's a twist. It is Law & Order: SVU, after all.

The Emmy nominee is making her big comeback with her first role since Desperate Housewives ended in 2012 starring opposite the original Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn and Curb Your Enthusiasm MVP Susie Essman in an episode ripped from the headlines. That's right, SVU is taking on the Casey Kasem case that gripped the public.

"Yeah, I've been sort of home with the kids. I felt like…It was time to get out of the house, I heard it was a great show. I don't watch much television, so it wasn't something I knew about. I love Mariska. We're sort of around the same age, so I've watched her start…you know what I mean?…I have a lot of respect for her and I always follow her and Debra Messing, who I also have a lot of respect for," Cross said on set of her episode, "December Solstice."

In the episode, Cross plays Charmaine Briggs, the sixth wife to a famous, older author Walter Briggs, played by Vaughn. Like every SVU that's ripped from the headlines, this episodes has its own twists and turns that will take it away from the Casey and Jean Kasem story.

"I think she's madly in love with him," Cross said. "He's a literary great and she loves his mind. Look at Robert Vaughn now, he looks fabulous. I think that people can really stay fit and healthy for a certain time and then the decline happens and then you're taking care of someone, which I think you know if you're going to marry someone older, that's part of the bargain, but it doesn't always work that way sometimes."

Law and Order: SVU

Michael Parmelee/NBC

SVU is no stranger to doing ripped from the headlines stories, but do the stars ever get nervous tackling famous subjects?

"Mhm, I do…my mother jokes, she's like, ‘If you want to know what's going to happen tomorrow, just watch last night's SVU episode,' because sometimes the episodes are written before it happens. It's weird, it's very strange. I do get nervous, a little, because you want to do it justice. Of course it's in the playground of a writer's imagination, of course it's not literal ever," Giddish said. But thankfully, she's never heard from the subjects that stories may mirror.  "No, no. Thank god I don't go to parties."

Walter's kids bring in the detectives from the special victims unit. The case peaks Detective Carisi's (Peter Scanvino) interest since he's been a fan of the author. While it may appear cut and dry, you will see there are two sides to every story.

"I think this episode really shows that, it kind of throws you for the loop," Scanavino told us. "You think it's going to go this way and then it goes that way—the interior of a family."

Law and Order: SVU

Michael Parmelee/NBC

Eventually, Charmaine needs the assistance of an attorney: Enter Essman as Arlene Heller, a sharp-tongued, sassy defense attorney. This isn't Essman's first foray into the Law and Order world, but this time she's heading to court.

"But I have to say, I really, really enjoyed playing a lawyer on this show. First of all, it's just a great group of people on this show. I had so much fun working with Raúl [Esparza] —it was just great," Essman said. "We really had fun together. I really enjoyed the courtroom, having people up on the stand and cross-examining—it's like playing, something you always kind of fantasized about growing up watching Perry Mason. I really enjoyed this so I'd love to come back and do more of this show."

For Cross, it seems like this episode is a test of sorts.

"You know, I think I am ready to go back to work. I don't know where or what—I'm going to kind of let the universe play out on that. I don't—nothing's ever going to be the magnitude of Desperate Housewives, so I don't have to worry, but my sort of memory—I have a little PTSD from how many hours," she said. "I don't know if I have that stamina, but I don't know, we'll see."

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

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