Why the Return of Law & Order Felt Like Homecoming for the O.G. Stars

It's been more than a decade since the Law & Order signed off air. But for Camryn Manheim, Anthony Anderson and more, it felt like no time had passed when they returned to set for season 21.

By Brett Malec Feb 23, 2022 4:33 PMTags
Watch: Camryn Manheim Calls "Law & Order" Reboot a "Full Circle Moment"

For Law & Order's original stars, the show's return is a dream come true to say the least.

After all, it's been more than a decade since Camryn Manheim, Anthony Anderson and more took their final bow on the NBC crime procedural.

Back then, "I was just a snot-nosed kid fresh out of graduate school and like every New York actor wanted to add Law & Order to my resumé," Manheim exclusively told E! News exclusively ahead of the season 21 premiere Feb. 24. "I've played three separate characters prior to this one, so it's a big full circle moment for me to come back as Lieutenant Dixon."

No topic is off limits when it comes to the "ripped from the headlines" cases, according to the actress.

"We are really going deep and the writers are not afraid," she explained. "There's uncomfortable situations that we're just trying to get through. I mean, things are uncomfortable these days."

30 Secrets About Law & Order

She even celebrated her Law & Order return with SVU's Mariska Hargitay. "She's like, 'Come over. I want you to come over for dinner,'" Manheim recalled. "I get there, it's Shake Shack burgers. I'm like, 'I love this girl so much.' And we just talked for, like, five hours on her couch. She was giving me the low-down and welcoming me to the Law & Order family."

Watch: Anthony Anderson Talks "Law & Order" Homecoming

For Anderson, who is just ending eight seasons on his hit ABC comedy Black-ish, he admitted "the transition wasn't hard" getting back into the drama. "It's a homecoming for me," he shared.

His return to set was natural, even with newcomers like Jeffrey Donovan have no problem goofing off in between takes. "What Jeffrey and I are doing, we're making Law & Order a comedy and we don't ever tell any of the directors that come in," Anderson said with a smile. "So they have to reel us in just because of the fun that we're having with one another."

Watch: Jeffrey Donovan Jokes About Anthony Anderson on "Law & Order"

As for Donovan's thoughts? Well...

"It's not fun at all," he sarcastically told E!. "He's not funny. He should try and take some comedy classes and maybe he'll make it. He's lucky to get this job again. I know he was unemployed for the last eight years, so hopefully he'll step up." 

Law & Order season 21 premieres this Thursday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Scroll through the photos below for everything we know about the show's return.

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

When Will the Revival Premiere?

Law & Order will be back on Peacock starting Thursday, Feb. 24. The revival comes 11 years after the police procedural—which premiered in 1990—went off the air in 2010. 

"Law & Order is quite simply one of the most iconic shows in television history, and the idea of continuing its legacy and partnering with Dick on an all-new season is nothing short of exhilarating" Susan Rovner, Chairman for Entertainment Content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, said in a press statement. "This is great news for NBC as well as TV fans everywhere."

Sam Waterston Is Back as Jack McCoy

Sam Waterston will return as District Attorney Jack McCoy, the character whom creator Dick Wolf calls "the ultimate conscience of the show." 

Anthony Anderson Returns as Detective Kevin Bernard

Anthony Anderson also will reprise his role of Detective Kevin Bernard. "With both Sam and Anthony returning, it shows that the 21st season is merely a continuation of where we left off," creator Wolf explained.


Hugh Dancy Joins the Cast as an ADA

McCoy may be getting a new friend...or foe. Hugh Dancy joins the cast as yet-unnamed Assistant District Attorney. 

Meet the New Courtroom

Of course after 20 seasons, it's also time for some more fresh faces. New cast members include Jeffrey Donovan as an NYPD detective, Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon and Odelya Halevi as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun.

What Other Law & Order Stars May Appear?

Dann Florek has been popping up on Law & Order: SVU as former captain Kragen, so perhaps he may join the Law & Order reprisal. 

And, in a February Variety article, Waterston teased that "there is a person coming back in the first show." Though the Law & Order veteran didn't name the returning performer, he did call the actress one of his "favorite people on Earth," adding, "you'll be glad when you see her."

Peacock is live now! Check out NBCU's streaming service here.