Brooke Shields Causes Heartache for Olivia Benson in 5-Episode ‘SVU’ Arc

Law & Order: SVU
Spoiler Alert
Michael Parmelee/NBC
Brooke Shields (far right) will play Noah's biological maternal grandmother in a 5-episode Law & Order: SVU story arc.

[Spoiler Alert: Only read ahead if you’ve watched “Contrapasso,” the Oct. 11 episode of Law & Order: SVU. Spoilers are discussed below.]

Brooke Shields is back home with her NBC family. The Suddenly Susan star has a new guest role on Law & Order: SVU (for a 5-episode arc) and causes a lot of heartache and headache for Mariska Hargitay‘s Olivia Benson.

Shields plays Sheila Porter, Noah’s biological maternal grandmother, who’s been searching for him for years. To refresh, Benson adopted Noah when he was an infant after she rescued him from child pornographers. His mother is Ellie Porter, who was a prostitute and became pregnant after Johnny Drake, a sex trafficker, repeatedly raped her. Both biological parents are now deceased.

During a press junket, Shields told TV Insider all about her new role and what kind of turbulence Sheila causes during Season 19.

Why is this the right time in your career to do this, and what are you looking forward to?
I feel lucky. Mariska is single-handedly responsible for it. She saw a guest spot that I had done for Ali Wentworth’s show called Nightcap with Jimmy, and it was a sort of disturbed—more comedic, but a very disturbed—sort of multifaceted character, and she said on that day, ‘We’ve got this storyline.’

When [Mariska] explained to me what we are working towards is sort of this modern view of, how do we parent? It’s not just about rights, and it’s not about ego. [Mariska and I] are both fighting each other, and yet we’re fighting for the same thing, but we can’t make it about one winning. There’s so many different ways of raising families, and what does family really mean? And who’s entitled to what? And very often it’s the child that gets lost in it. We make it a very big, strong point that Noah is first and foremost.

Is there room for your character to grow?
It depends on what kind of demise I come to at the end. It will probably dictate whether I just go to jail … I’m told that things evolve, and I think there probably is a trial period. It involves Noah. I’m banking on the humanity because at this point for Sheila—that all she has. Because she’s coming in, and it’s really questionable as to what she deserves.

What can you tell us about Sheila’s characteristics?
She’s not well-to-do, but she would have had enough to hire private investigators. She’s a widow. She’s neat. There’s a structure to her, but you get the feeling that that’s been put on over years of guilt of losing her daughter, and where is she culpable in that?

Law & Order: SVU, Wednesdays, 9/8c, NBC