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Patti LuPone's SVU Guest Appearance as a Corrupt Casting Agent Was A Show-Stopper

Broadway star Patti LuPone played the bone-chiling Lydia Lebasi on Season 16 of SVU in 2015.

By Jessica White

While every Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode is filled with twists and turns, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was downright flabbergasted after brushing paths with the character played by Broadway legend Patti LuPone.

How to Watch

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

LuPone is a firework of talent, effortlessly snagging the spotlight throughout her esteemed portfolio of projects. While some stars get their start with a guest appearance on one of the shows in the Law & Order franchise, the three-time Tony winner entered Dick Wolf's procedural universe as a seasoned actress who was bound to be a certified scene-stealer.

RELATED: The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Fans Never Forget

LuPone is one of the most prolific performers in the game, making her SVU episode an absolute must-watch.

What did Patti LuPone play on SVU?

LuPone turned in a powerhouse performance as the nefarious casting agent Lydia Lebasi in SVU Season 16, Episode 11 ("Agent Provocateur").

Lebasi was a massively successful casting agent who specialized in representing young up-and-coming talent, notably the famous actors Scott Russo (Shiloh Fernandez), a bohemian with a sprawling fanbase of teenage girls, and Skye Adderson (played by her fellow Broadway actor Jeremy Jordan).

Peter Scanavino as Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Patti LuPone as Lydia, and Danny Pino as Detective Nick Amaro in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

What happened to Patti LuPone's character on SVU episode?

The episode began after 15-year-old Madison Baker (Madison Grace) was apparently drugged, sexually assaulted, stuffed in a suitcase, and left for dead in an alley. She survived, but told Benson and Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) that she couldn't remember anything after getting into a cab to see a musical with friends.

However, it became clear that she was hiding something out of fear of getting in trouble with her mother: She had actually gone to the hotel bar for a party after getting an invite from famed movie star Scott Russo. But she said she didn't remember anything after the bar.

When they went to interview the eccentric young actor, his manager — LuPone's maliciously magnetic Lydia Lebasi — was there and made it clear that she was one in charge. She insisted Russo had nothing to do with Madison's assault and that the squad could email her any further questions. 

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Detectives Odafin Tutuola (Ice T) and Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino) then visited the hotel where the party was held to get security footage only to discover that someone had gotten there first and pretended to be a cop to obtain the video. After celebrity tabloid LMZ released footage of Russo and Madison making out at the bar and then her going to his room, detectives questioned Russo. He, of course, denied the allegations, but they found used condoms and the same drugs from Madison's system during a search of his room.

Madison then told police she'd willingly gone to Russo's room and had sex with him, claiming he was her "soulmate."

Benson and the squad then discovered that LMZ's confidential source for the videos of Madison and Russo was Lebasi.

When pulled in for questioning, she was initially irate but eventually agreed to tell "the whole truth," claiming that Russo had called her after committing "career suicide" — hooking up with a 15-year-old who had then OD'd in his bed. Lebasi's statements led to Russo's swift arrest, but then a devastated Madison visited the precinct. After the detectives explained that Lebasi had confessed to Russo's involvement, Madison changed her story again.

She explained that she and Russo had made out at the hotel bar, but that he'd left after discovering her age. Heartbroken, the inebriated teen had stumbled up to to his hotel room but, when he answered the door, she noticed his married costar, Catalina Soren (Teresa Moore), in a bathrobe. After Russo explicitly turned her away due to her age, Madison began sobbing in the hallway.

That's when Russo's other costar — and Lebasi's other client — Skye Adderson poked his head out into the hallway and invited her to his room, where he gave her drinks and began making advances. Madison stole some of his pills to alleviate her nerves, and then the two had sex, which she only vaguely remembered. She claimed she'd lied to prevent Russo from finding out that she "cheated on him" with Adderson.

And Lebasi, it turned out, had chosen to ditch Russo as a client in favor of Adderson, bribing the tabloid to release the hotel footage to incriminate Russo and placing the drugs and condoms from Adderson's room in Russo's.

RELATED: 25 Celebrities Who Guest Starred On Law & Order: SVU

Benson and Fin then visited Adderson, who was getting a massage from Lebasi while waiting for a flight to New Zealand to film a new movie. After the detectives insinuated that they had seen footage of Adderson wheeling out the suitcase in which Madison had been found, he blurted out in a panic that Lebasi had brought it to him.

She then snidely explained that she hadn't wanted some "stupid girl" to ruin a massive movie deal. They were asked to go to the precinct to make statements, but it isn't revealed what, if any, charges either ultimately faced.

Russo was released.

Patti LuPone as Ruth Miller in Law & Order, Season 8 Episode 3

Who did Patti LuPone play on Law & Order?

Aside from her dynamite guest appearance as Lydia Lebasi on SVU, LuPone also guest starred in the original Law & Order.

She played defense attorney Ruth Miller, who opposed Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) on a case in Season 6, Episode 22 ("Homesick") after an infant was poisoned, with all of the evidence indicating it was the child's au pair. LuPone returned as Miller in Season 8, Episode 3 ("Navy Blues") when a Naval officer's death unveiled a winding love triangle.    

Watch LuPone's Law & Order guest appearances and fan-favorite SVU episodes on Peacock.