‘Law & Order: SVU’s Kelli Giddish on What May Be Preventing a Rollins-Carisi Romance

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 21
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 21, Episode 10 of Law & Order: SVU, “Must Be Held Responsible.”]

The Law & Order: SVU winter premiere is a rough one for Rollins (Kelli Giddish), especially emotionally.

After a judge failed to declare his daughter’s rapist, Steve Getz (Vincent Kartheiser), guilty, Bucci (Nicholas Turturro) took matters into his own hands and took Rollins hostage. It was only once he saw Steve’s arrest on the news that he let her go — and rather than leave him in the motel room, she ensured he was brought in safely. It wasn’t until she was on her way home that she broke down with Carisi (Peter Scanavino).

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Here, Giddish breaks down the winter premiere, discusses Rollins and Carisi’s relationship, and previews cases to come.

While there wasn’t as high a level of concern for her physical well-being under other circumstances, this was quite the emotional episode for Rollins. And that’s especially difficult for her, right?

Kelli Giddish: Right. Her hostage taker is someone she knows trying to help his daughters. She knows the motives behind it. He’s ex-NYPD, and there’s a lot of things that she sees and she almost maybe feels sympathetic towards.

(Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

What moments do you think had the most impact on her?

He’s also taken her away from her kids. That scene where she says, “Listen, if you can’t think about your daughters and the stupidity you’re acting upon, can you think about mine? I’ve got a three-year-old, she wakes up in the middle of the night, I’m not there…” And I have kids. If I allow myself to go there for one second, I’m just a mess thinking about my own son, if he woke up and I wasn’t there. Real life definitely informs the panic and the absolute careful desperation you would feel in that situation.

We see Rollins make the decision to make sure Bucci survives by bringing him in and mention she would’ve done the same for her daughters. Do you think she would’ve made the same decision if she wasn’t a mother or Bucci wasn’t a cop she already knew?

No, I don’t. That definitely played into it. She says to Bucci, “You know, I liked you,” and I think she means it. I don’t think she’s trying to get his head in a particular place. I actually think she liked him — he is what he is, what you see is what you get. Rollins appreciates that.

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Even the way she takes him back to the squad room is definitely protecting him as much as she can. She says, “He never touched me, he never hurt me, I have him in cuffs. He’s ex-NYPD, just take it easy.” That’s her hostage taker, that’s the person that was keeping her away from her kids. But I think she is being tough and you see that crack in the elevator when she breaks down with Carisi for a second and shows the toll the past few days had taken on her.

Rollins being in therapy is certainly a good move, especially considering everything she’s been through, but as she points out, she manages to get brutally honest about things with Bucci she hesitated to with Dr. Hanover.

That was a great idea from Warren [Leight], as a big part of this story arc, the fact that Bucci can reach her and she can start talking about what’s happening deep down in her heart, but her own therapist can’t get there with her. She won’t open up to that forum, but she’ll open up to a guy in a motel room with a gun on her. That’s very Rollins and I like how we accept that from Rollins. I don’t know what’s saying about my character, but I like it.

(Heidi Gutman/NBC)

Do you think this is going to change her moving forward? Will she open up in therapy now?

I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if she’ll be too crazy about going to therapy anymore.

Rollins brings up quite a bit about her father. How much do you think she needed to get everything she said in the motel room off her chest and is that something we’ll see explored further?

I hope they do explore that avenue. Every time we get to meet Rollins’ family, it’s fun for the audience. We still haven’t gotten to meet her dad. She definitely does have issues with guys in her life and who she goes for. We know her dad beat her mom. What is that relationship like? How well does she do putting up boundaries?

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Rollins got honest with Carisi about how she feels about his transfer earlier this season. There certainly seems to be potential for a relationship there, but like she says in this episode, she doesn’t go for decent guys. How does she feel about Carisi and might that transfer allow that relationship to be explored in a way it hasn’t yet?

Maybe. That’s a good point, now that he’s not her partner. I think they rely on each other too much to make it go a different way. But who knows? I just know they’re very special in each other’s lives and they rely on each other heavily and there’s real affection and respect and admiration from one to the other. It goes both ways. It doesn’t mean she can’t be pissed at him.

While talking with Bucci, Rollins mentions being stalled in her career, being a third grade detective for eight years, but that she’s holding herself back. Does she want to make a career change?

No, I think really she knows her path has changed by having two kids. That’s where her focus is. And she loves her job. She’s good at her job. And at the capacity she’s in, she knows she does a really good job, so she’s happy.

(Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Can you preview some upcoming cases?

There’s a boxing mentor coach that takes advantage of his students, so we get to see the boxing world, which was really cool to be able to film. Jamie Gray Hyder does a great job in that one.

There’s an episode coming up that Rollins gets to go undercover because there’s a government worker that exchanges green cards for sex, so she attempts to catch him. That was a lot of fun. Any time the audience gets to see Rollins go undercover, it’s fun.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC