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NBC Insider Law & Order: Organized Crime

This Organized Crime Star Once Had a "Fascinating" Guest Role on Law & Order

Learn about Tate Ellington’s killer role on Law & Order before he took on AI expert Dr. Kyle Vargas on Organized Crime

By Stephanie Gomulka

Tate Ellington might be new to the Law & Order: Organized Crime cast, but he's been seen in the wider franchise before — and shared some hilarious behind-the-scenes details about his prior guest spot.

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Organized Crime Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

The actor currently portrays Dr. Kyle Vargas, an artificial intelligence expert and tech wiz who was brought on to help the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau solve cases in Season 4 of the show.

Ellington previously played someone entirely different in the franchise, when he had a guest star role on Law & Order two years ago. 

“It’s a New York institution,” Ellington told NBC Insider of the original show, calling it a source of income for so many actors. “And it's such an honor to get your Law & Order episode.”

RELATED: All About Organized Crime’s Ill-Fated Detective, Samir Bashir, Played by Abubakr Ali

Who did Tate Ellington guest star as on Law & Order?

He was featured in a “sort of crime of the week” episode of the show with a “pretty fascinating story" when playing Colin Baker in "Severance" (Season 21, Episode 8).

“I’m the murderer, but you’re never quite sure, did I do it on purpose or was it a mental condition,” Ellington said about his character.

Audiences have to make up their mind if Baker was in a “sort of state” or “faking it,” according to Ellington.

Tate Ellington attends NBC And The Cinema Society Host A Party For The Casts Of NBC Midseason 2020

Tate Ellington's hilarious behind-the-scenes moment from his Law & Order episode

During one dramatic scene, Ellington's character was dragged out by the bailiffs in court.

“I got to stand up in court and freak out, be dragged out of the courtroom,” the actor said about filming, adding it was a dream of his as an actor to be grilled on the stand. “I was like, ‘This is great, like I get to be the bad guy.’"

But not all went as planned.

“On our first take I think, the guy dragging me out didn’t realize that the door actually was a pull door and not a push and so they’re just slowly, continually slamming me into the door, trying to push it out,” Ellington recalled, laughing. “And eventually I'm screaming out, 'It doesn't open that way!' Everybody cracked up in the courtroom, so it was a really wonderful time.”

Kyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) appears during Law and Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 3.

Tate Ellington "happy to be the butt of a joke" when it comes to Vargas' treatment

Now on Organized CrimeEllington told NBC Insider that getting to fully be a part of the team and build the Kyle Vargas character has been a “dream come true” for him.

But while Vargas' skills have been invaluable to the squad, as the tech-geek newcomer, the character doesn't always seem to be fully appreciated by his colleagues. Though they've been warming up to Vargas in more recent episodes, he's often overlooked or ignored.

“I’m fairly self-deprecating and also I’m happy to be the butt of a joke so those [scenes] are easy to shoot for me,” Ellington said about his character's predicament. “Every time we add in something else or when I’m reading the script and I see, ‘Vargas is left alone,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s great.’”

RELATED: A Detective Was Killed on Organized Crime — And Stabler Buried the Body

Don't expect the detectives who work alongside Vargas to let up anytime soon, either — especially Bobby Reyes (Rick Gonzalez).

“With Reyes’ character, there’s some fun stuff coming up where he’s picking on me,” Ellington told NBC Insider, teasing what’s to come this season. “All of it’s in a very I think brotherly fashion. I think Vargas sees it as so. He thinks it’s just, ‘Ah, the team’s ribbing me and its fine.'"

Law And Order Organized Crime 404 Kyle VargasKyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) appears during Law and Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 4.

Though Vargas is sometimes overlooked by his co-workers, the actor says the Organized Crime cast, which is led by Christopher Meloni, has treated him just the opposite. 

“I usually go to set beaming, smiling every day and leave smiling every day,” Ellington said. “This cast and crew [are] an absolute delight to work with. They are an extremely kind bunch. They’re a family and it’s nice coming in. Sometimes it can be really intimidating to come into an already-established show and be the new guy, but they have been absolutely welcoming the entire time.”

Ellington was a longtime fan of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Meloni prior to joining the Organized Crime cast. 

RELATED: Jet and Reyes Revealed the Shocking Way Their Affair Began on Organized Crime

One thing he’s noticed after working with Meloni, is that the franchise veteran still cares deeply for his character and the work. 

“Every time we come in and are doing scenes, we sit down and read the scene and go through and he has notes,” Ellington said. “He’s gone home that night to look at it, to figure it out, to 'This doesn’t make sense. Is there a way we can change this?'"

Ellington says he also loves Meloni leaning into pushing the Vargas jokes as far as possible.

Catch Vargas in action on Law & Order: Organized Crime, airing Thursdays at 10/9c p.m. on NBC, with episodes streaming episodes the next day on Peacock.