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Betty Buckley Appearing on Law & Order: SVU: What to Know

"I actually pitched the idea for the story," Buckley tells NBC Insider about her SVU episode.

By Jessica White
Bensler Get Steamy and Almost Kiss | NBC’s Law & Order: SVU

Stage, film, and television legend Betty Buckley is appearing in the April 27 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as the lovable Lorraine Maxwell. 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

Buckley is a seasoned Law & Order guest star, first appearing as Defense Attorney Walsh in the early days of SVU. Then, in Season 23, she was given a new role: Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell. Not everyone can say their talent inspires entire characters to be written, but Buckley is not your typical performer. Always keeping ADA Carisi (Peter Scanavino) on his toes as his no-nonsense boss, fans always enjoy seeing Buckley weigh in on the action.

In honor of her most recent SVU appearance in Season 24, Episode 19 ("Bend the Law"),  learn more about Buckley's distinguished career, below. 

Who is Betty Buckley, SVU's Lorraine Maxwell?

Buckley skyrocketed to fame in the late 1970s as Abby Abbott in the dramedy series Eight Is Enough. She was later cast in the 1978 Carrie film as the gym teacher, Miss Collins. Other notable film projects for Buckley include Tender Mercies, Another Woman, and Frantic.  

Buckley is also a renowned Broadway star, snatching a Tony for her role as Grizabella in the original production of Cats, when she sang the iconic song, "Memory." Yes, that was Buckley hitting those powerful high notes! Buckley also starred in hit musicals like 1776Sunset Boulevard, Triumph of Love, and Hello, Dolly! 

With a powerful voice that has elevated dozens of theatrical productions, it's no surprise that Buckley has also released 18 solo studio albums of her work. Outside of her stage and film roles, Buckley is an accomplished television star, appearing in Oz, Supergirl, and of course, several episodes of Law & Order: SVU.

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Betty Buckley dishes details about SVU's "Bend the Law"

Buckley's latest SVU performance sees Lorraine Maxwell becoming entangled in an incredibly concerning case involving her husband. The synopsis for "Bend the Law" reads, "Carisi must tread carefully when Maxwell's husband becomes a person of interest in an SVU investigation; Benson (Mariska Hargitay) sends Velasco (Octavio Pisano) to take an old friend into custody." 

Ahead of her thrilling SVU appearance, NBC Insider chatted with Buckley about what's ahead for Maxwell and the SVU detectives. 

"Maxwell goes to Benson and Carisi when her husband becomes a suspect in [a case where] a group of guys in his private club are caught with underage girls..." Buckley says. "She [Maxwell] turns to Benson for support. And yeah, it’s very complicated stuff."

Buckley tells NBC Insider she had a hand in creating the latest legal madness on SVU.

"I actually pitched the idea for the story to [SVU writer] David Graziano and our head writer, executive producer Julie Martin," Buckley reveals. "We had a Zoom meeting, and they really liked the storyline, and then David took it and ran with it and made it what it is in the episode. I was really gratified that they picked up the idea and wrote the episode for me."

The SVU producers created the character of Lorraine Maxwell for Buckley specifically. "We were coming out of the pandemic, and [SVU producer] Warren [Leight] and I are Twitter friends. And so when they were starting to shoot again, I wrote him this private message on Twitter and said, 'Would you consider, you know, giving me a part on SVU? I’d sure like to come back to the show,'" she says. 

This did the trick. She's been loving her recurring guest role ever since. 

"I really love this team of people..." Buckley tells NBC Insider about the SVU team. "It’s a very positive set of a really lovely group of human beings. And of course led by Mariska’s phenomenal energy. When she [Hargitay] hits the set, she’s a force of nature... She’s just always fully present and so happy to be there." 

"She’s such a profoundly compassionate and empathetic human being," Buckley says of Hargitay. "And any scene with her, you can just feel the palpable nature of the love, that is who she is... I just feel really embraced by her, by her warmth and her empathy. She’s a lovely, lovely person." 

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit  Thursdays at 9/8c and the next day on Peacock.