Philip Winchester knows he's not exactly in good standing with every Law & Order: SVU fan.
In "The Undiscovered Country," SVU introduced Winchester as his Chicago Justice character Peter Stone, son of Law & Order's Ben Stone, and the replacement to Raúl Esparza's ADA Rafael Barba. Winchester's character immediately clashed with the Special Victims Unit and its mama bear, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay).
"There are big shoes to fill, Raúl is an incredible actor…he had a great relationship with Mariska. Just personally, not even as Peter Stone, but as Philip Winchester coming in, there's a lot of, ‘Gosh, this is someone else's playground. These are kids I haven't played with before.' There's a lot of that pressure kind of going on," Winchester told E! News.
All that will eventually change, the elite squad of detectives will come to trust and respect Stone as their new ADA. Winchester praised SVU showrunner Michael Chernuchin for writing three-dimensional characters, making it easy for him to enter the SVU playground, and Esparza for showing him the ropes during their scenes together.
"He showed me what was up. He was an absolute gentleman and he didn't need to do that," Winchester said about Esparza's guidance.
After their rocky start, Benson and Stone are finding new footing in their roles. Could there be something more to the relationship between them besides professional? Recent episodes have featured the characters meeting at bars and sharing looks, including Benson walking in on Stone changing in his office.
"I don't honestly know if we could do that," Winchester said. "One thing I do know is the relationship grows on the fact that they respect each other immensely and that they know each other is damn good at their job."
Stone and Benson can and do clash often because they know the other is a seasoned veteran. "Peter has to get himself to a place where he has to learn from Benson," Winchester said, noting his character is now dealing with the world of sex crimes, not homicide. "It's not black and white."
Click play on the video above for more from Winchester.
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.
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