"Law & Order: SVU" season 15, continues this week with episode 15, "Comic Perversion," and on Monday, Feb. 24, we joined a conference call with executive producer and showrunner Warren Leight and guest star Jonathan Silverman to find out what to expect – and not just in this episode, but for the rest of the season as well.
"Comic Perversion" preview In this week's "SVU" episode, Silverman guest stars as a comedian who jokes about women and rape. Two of his fans assault a student, and it's up to the SVU detectives to prove that his actions reflect his words. "I was somewhat hesitant," Silverman admitted of playing the character of Josh Galloway. "I had to discuss it with my reps, with my manager, with my agents. And we ultimately decided this is what I do for a living, and you don't always get to play reputable characters. …Obviously I hope people don't respond to my character's inclinations on and off stage, but it was a wonderful opportunity to portray and to get this message out."
"We were aware last year there were a spate of comics getting a lot of attention for rape jokes. And obviously there was the Tosh incident, [which] was, I think, one of the more public and egregious incidents in which…someone was heckling him and he got into it with her and said, "wouldn't it be funny if these guys gang raped you right here?" At "SVU" we don’t think that's funny. …We also saw a lot of network sitcoms. It's almost like rape jokes became the sort of the go-to." Leight explained when asked how he came up with this episode. "Doing this show, we deal with the real life part of rape, not the funny part, and so we wanted to do an episode about rape culture and what we call rape comics." Some people do come to these comics' defense, arguing they're shedding light on dark areas.
For "Comic Perversion," they wanted "a comic who was charming and funny and, in some ways, despicable." At first, the actor saw his character as "very nebulous" and "vulgar," but while filming it, he dissected the role and was able to find a way to "sympathize with the character…and to try and make him human." "He looks at himself as a social satirist who wants to hold a mirror up to society and its pitfalls, and he actually discusses how it's important to look at society's evils," Silverman said.
Will Lewis be back? We've seen a decline in Benson since Lewis attacked her, and Leight admitted that you'll see some of her anger showing in this week's episode, but "the worst is over for her." That is, unless Lewis returns. So will he? "You never know with a character like that and an actor like Pablo [Schreiber]. I thin that there's one last stance that they might need to have," he teased, but that episode hasn't been written yet. "I think he still has a need for closure, and he's a pretty stubborn guy."
End of the season teases While some guest stars may not want to play the bad guy, that's not the case for others. "I saw Sherri Saum on Twitter. She said she wanted to play a bad guy," the EP told reporters. "I just tweeted her immediately and said, "can I hold you to that?" And we just booked her for episode 17." Donal Logue will also appear in that episode, which will see Rollins' gambling "reach its climax." The episode following that is the March 19 episode directed by Mariska Hargitay and featuring guest star Alec Baldwin.
It's been a long, dark winter for these characters, and Leight previewed, "the question for the last third of this season is, "How are they going to come out of it and what will be the aftereffects or ripple effects of everything they've gone through individually and interpersonally?" So we got a lot of spinning plates that we have to try to figure out how to - or whatever it is. Whatever it is you’re supposed to do with spinning plates, we have to figure out what to do with them because we have a lot of plates spinning right now. And there’s going to be a few pretty big surprises as the season goes on."
Will there be a new captain? Leight wasn't sure about that, but while he's liked seeing Benson in charge, "there are certain circumstances that could cause her to not be allowed to be in charge of the squad room. …There's certain cases she would not be allowed to handle for her own safety." That said, if they do bring someone in, the permanence of the role would depend "on who [they] bring in and how their pilot season goes."
"Law & Order: SVU" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC. Check out the slideshow for the photos NBC has released from this episode and watch a sneak peek to the left.