Interview: Betty Buckley Previews Dramatic New Episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU

Buckley discusses exploring the character of Lorraine Maxwell, working with the SVU cast, and more. 

By: Apr. 26, 2023
Interview: Betty Buckley Previews Dramatic New Episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU
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Tony Award-winning theatre legend Betty Buckley is returning to "Law & Order: SVU" as Trial Bureau Chief Lorraine Maxwell in a dramatic episode on Thursday, April 27.

In the upcoming episode "Bend the Law", Carisi must tread carefully when Maxwell's husband becomes a person of interest in an SVU investigation.

The episode airs Thursday, April 27 at 9pm on NBC (streaming next day on Peacock).

BroadwayWorld spoke with Betty Buckley about exploring the character of Lorraine Maxwell, working with the SVU cast, and more.

You have returned to Law & Order: SVU as Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell for a new episode this week. Can you tease for us what audiences can expect to see with this episode?

The story idea was one that I, fortunately, got to share with David Graziano, our showrunner, and Julie Martin, our head writer. They took this story where Maxwell discovers that her second husband is involved in a trafficking ring, and she reaches out to Olivia for support. And so, Graziano liked that idea, and then he took the rest and wrote it, and I was really thrilled to have been able to share the central idea with them. I think it's a brilliant script, and I was really grateful to be a part of it.

It's a really meaty episode, what was it like getting to explore the different shades of light and dark, good and bad that's in this character?

It was exciting, it was challenging, and I was really grateful. Actors want to act, and so, the more complicated it can be, the more fun it is for me. So, I'm very appreciative that they wrote this for my character. It was really complex. Martha Mitchell was our director, wonderful lady, and she helped me find the moments of the progression of Maxwell's complicated journey with the events that take place. I can't wait to see it. I haven't seen it yet.

Interview: Betty Buckley Previews Dramatic New Episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU

You have been playing this character for a few years now, how has it been getting to build Lorraine Maxwell over the years?

It's two seasons, last year I did four episodes, and this year it's three. Years ago I had played a character called Attorney Walsh. I came back a few times as Attorney Walsh, and then after the pandemic, I reached out to Warren Leight in a private message on Twitter and asked him if I could come back to the show. And he wrote back and said, "If you need your insurance, I'll have you in next week as a judge." And I wrote back and said, "I'm good with my insurance, thanks so much, and I hope it's not asking too much, but I would sure like if you would consider writing me a recurring role." And he came back and said, "Let me see what I can do."

A couple weeks later he wrote and said, "Do you want to be Carisi's boss?" And I was like, "Yes!" And so he wrote Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell for me. And then he left the show, and David Graziano has been really terrific maintaining a continuity of Lorraine being present in this season as well. He was also very gracious, along with Julie Martin, to let me pitch that story idea.

And what's it been like working with the SVU cast?

Oh, they're amazing, they're such lovely people, they're so fun to be around, it's this constant buoyancy, they're very warm people. It's such a pleasure to work with them.

What is it like being on a show that employs so much Broadway talent?

I think that's especially cool! It used to be on the show Oz that Tom Fontana produced, I was on that show the last four seasons, and they employed a lot of Broadway people too. And I used to say, "I have the best job in New York, I get to go to work with the hunkiest actors in New York City," [laughs]. I played this character, I was O'Reily's mom, who set up a social work arts program in the prison, so that was really fun. I loved Oz, and I love SVU, all the Law and Orders. But I am a huge fangirl of Mariska [Hargitay], she's just the loveliest human being you could possibly imagine. Her energy force is so great, I don't even know how she has the life she has because it's so big. She's an incredible sconce of beautiful, joyous warmth and energy. Every time I'm around her I'm knocked out by her.

What would you like to say to viewers who are tuning in every week to Law & Order: SVU?

Long may we reign! Long may SVU have the success that SVU has had for 24 years. It's my favorite show, and so it's an honor and a joy to be a part of it.

Interview: Betty Buckley Previews Dramatic New Episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU