Peter Scanavino on Carisi & Rollins’ Mutual Support on ‘SVU’ and His ‘Organized Crime’ Guest Spot

Peter Scanavino Law & Order SVU Season 22 Sonny Carisi
Q&A
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Law & Order fans are getting double the ADA Dominic “Sonny” Carisi (Peter Scanavino) on April 22. After his usual work on SVU, he’ll pop up on Organized Crime. “Can you handle it?” Scanavino says with a laugh.

Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) brings him over to his spinoff to help with a case, and it really shows how far Carisi has come from when he first transferred over to the DA’s office from SVU.

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“He thinks maybe a bit more with his head as opposed to his heart, which I think was more prominent when he was a detective, just because of the nature of the job and what he has to do,” Scanavino says of his character as an ADA. “It can’t just be all driven by emotion.”

The star previews what to expect from Carisi on both shows and teases the SVU finale.

Carisi’s been helping Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) out with her kids while she spends time with her ailing dad. How has that been going?

Peter Scanavino: It’s been good. He’s got a very close relationship with her kids. He’s Uncle Sonny, so he’s been spending a lot of time with them, playing with them, cooking meals for them. That’s been a big help for her. In the upcoming episode, he’s with her in the hospital, doing what someone you’re close with does: He’s providing support for her and he’s being a voice of reason when sometimes emotions can take over.

There was a sweet deleted scene from last week’s episode of Carisi with the kids.

Yeah, that was pretty good. I saw that on Twitter.

What do Rollins and Carisi’s interactions say about where their relationship is? Because they had that awkward moment before she got the call about her dad.

It’s a complicated relationship. I think there’s something there between the two of them, but it’s one of those instances where you’ve had your relationship defined by work and being friends for so long, that sometimes it might be hard to cross over into something else and that might not even be what’s right. Sometimes the lines between what’s a platonic or romantic affection can be blurred and that might be there. But I think it’s very clear that they can really depend on each other when they’re really in a pinch. That’s a very special thing to have, particularly in the world that they exist in, which is one where work is always pressing. There’s always something happening.

There are fans eager to see Carisi and Rollins together, but we met his girlfriend last week. I have to say, I liked Nicole [Suzette Gunn] and their dynamic.

There’s some stuff coming up. Nicole definitely is referenced and pops in in the finale. That relationship is very interesting. And we’ll see where that goes as well.

Rollins Carisi Law Order SVU Season 22 Rollisi

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

What brings Carisi over to Organized Crime and makes him the right ADA to get involved?

Stabler has to come up with a bit of a scheme to get a witness to testify without alerting the bad guys, so it’s kind of this performance that we have to do. I wonder myself how I got involved. And I imagine Stabler maybe asked [his former partner and now-SVU Captain] Olivia [Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay], does she know somebody that would be into this kind of thing? And she says, “Oh yeah, I know this guy, Carisi. He’d be really good at it.”

Did you find you carried yourself differently as Carisi over on Organized Crime because it’s a different world and different characters than he’s usually around?

Yeah. I went there and I just wanted to do what I do. It’s a different set, different vibe, you’re acting with a different character. So that’s a different dynamic for sure, which I think changed [things] in pretty subtle ways, but nothing dramatic.

Especially because he met Stabler at the worst point in Stabler’s life.

Right. And we don’t really rehash that. As you would in real life when you know there’s a sore spot, you don’t bring it up unless the other person wants to talk about it. And I don’t think Stabler really wants to open up to Carisi about his deepest emotions [after losing his wife].

Peter Scanavino Law Order Organized Crime ADA Carisi

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Something I’ve noticed, especially in this Organized Crime episode and when Carisi faced off against [former ADA Rafael] Barba [Raúl Esparza] earlier this season on SVU, is that Carisi seems very settled as ADA and at home in that role now. Does it feel that way to you?

Yeah. It’s interesting, art imitating life, because the more comfortable I get up there as an actor doing the courtroom scenes and just at this new role, I think the character settles in. That’s been a nice progression to see Carisi not really knowing what to do in this new position and as he settles in, you get to see the beginning of it, as opposed to other ADAs on the show. They’ve always come in kind of at their height and polished. What’s it like in the beginning? How do you find your footing in the courtroom? How do you persevere over challenges that happened earlier in your career?

Talk about that Carisi-Barba showdown and what it meant to Carisi to face off against a mentor?

When you have respect for somebody, there are no ill feelings. We were both just trying to do our jobs. Carisi understands that everybody is afforded the best defense that they can get, and this is just how the justice system works. He saw it as a real challenge, but not something that he was bitter about. I think if anything, in that episode, he was more upset with the detectives for bringing Barba into this when he thought that they should have been advocating for him because we’re on the same side. That was the conflict, but in terms of just going against Barba, I think he really saw it as a challenge that he had to step up to. And I think he did.

Carisi Barba Law Order SVU Season 22 Rollins Kat Fin

NBC

It was like a confidence booster because we saw how well he held his own.

Yeah, definitely. If you were to look back on his career, I think he would definitely say that was one of the defining moments for him as an ADA.

When I spoke with you about last season’s finale, you said that Carisi “wants to climb the ladder [in the ADA’s office] as quickly as possible.” Are we going to see anything related to that this season?

He got his own office this year. It’s pretty drab and rundown, but it is his own office. It’s not anything that we’ve really referenced or talk much about, but I think he’s definitely getting more responsibilities. He’s getting trusted more. He’s taking on bigger cases. He’s proving himself as an ADA. And he is, in the way I imagine it, accelerating through the ranks. He’s doing very well.

Is there anything you can tease about the season finale?

Something very big happens in the finale. That’s all I’m going to say, but it’s going to be something that I think is going to be pretty big in the Law & Order world.

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Is it going to be a cliffhanger, or is it just an event that happens in the finale?

I guess you could say both.

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

Law & Order: Organized Crime, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC