Adam Beach, Law & Order: SVU

NBC Photo: Will Hart

The pickings are getting a little slim over at the Special Victims Unit.

Just days after the pending departure of longtime castmember Diane Neal was announced, relative newcomer Adam Beach confirmed he would be leaving Law & Order: SVU at the end of this season.

"I very much enjoyed my year on Law & Order: SVU," Beach, who after guest-starring as Det. Chester Lake toward the end of season eight became a series regular, said Friday. "Now I'm looking forward to new adventures."

The 35-year-old actor had an option in his contract to stay on for another year, but he and NBC mutually agreed to call it quits, per trade reports.

"Adam is a superb actor," series creator Dick Wolf said. "From the first day I met him on the set of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, I was knocked out by his commitment, dedication and total immersion in the film's most crucial role. He did a terrific job this season on SVU, and I look forward to working with him again in the near future."

Wolf produced the Emmy-winning HBO movie, in which Beach played doctor and author Charles Eastman, who penned two memoirs about growing up as a child of mixed white and Native American heritage.

The Canadian-born Beach, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, is of Saulteaux Indian descent. His big-screen credits include the World War II-themed dramas Windtalkers and Flags of Our Fathers.

During his SVU tenure, Beach's character partnered with Ice-T's Det. Fin Tutuola after Fin's longtime partner, Det. John Munch, played by Homicide holdover Richard Belzer, started putting in more acid-tongued hours at the office and fewer on the street.

But perhaps Munch has decided he has spent enough time pushing papers, because Beach's role isn't expected to be recast.

Wolf & Co. are looking, however, for another bright young thing to fill the soon-to-be vacant Assistant District Attorney's chair. Neal played ADA Casey Novak for five seasons.

Meanwhile, in further restructuring of the natural Order of things, Jesse L. Martin's last Law & Order episode airs Wednesday, and it's being teased as a real doozy.

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