‘Law & Order: SVU’: Diane Neal Played Another Character on the Show Before She Became ADA Casey Novak

There is no denying that Casey Novak is one of the biggest characters in the Law & Order franchise. However, before actress Diane Neal was one of viewers’ favorite Assistant District Attorneys on Law & Order: SVU, she actually had a minor role in a prior season.

Diane Neal on 'Law & Order' SVU'
Diane Neal on ‘Law & Order’ SVU’ | Will Hart/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Who is Diane Neal

Neal is a 44-year-old actress who is most known for playing the role of Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on Law & Order: SVU. She is the second ADA in the show’s history, following Stephanie March’s Alex Cabot. She is the second-longest-running ADA that was on the show after Cabot. Outside of Law & Order: SVU, she is also known for portraying CGIS Special Agent Abigail Borin on NCIS.

Outside of acting, Neal also threw her hat in the political ring one time. As an independent, she ran unsuccessfully for New York’s 19th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Casey Novak is an important character in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ canon

Due to her long term on the show as an ADA, she is one of the show’s most recognizable faces. In a 2012 interview with Digital Spy, Neal talked about her role as Novak, noting that the show gives her “nightmares.” She said, “It’s totally disturbing! I totally get nightmares. Years ago there was an episode called ‘Ritual’ – it actually wrecked my head… I swear to God it still gives me nightmares. I think about that all the time.”


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At the time, Novak also talked about how she was glad that in the more recent seasons, fans were learning more about the characters’ personal lives and situations. “I would love to find out if [Casey] was a virgin until she was about 25,” she said, wondering about potential storylines that could be explored for her character. “I kind of think she was, which is cool – I dig it!”

She guest-starred as a villain in an episode

Before appearing on Law & Order: SVU as Novak and becoming one of the most notable characters in the series, she actually had another role in the show. In the season 3 episode “Ridicule,” she played Amelia Chase.

The character was a stockbroker who was present while someone was raped. She also staged the suicide of the alleged rapist. She ended up getting convicted after testifying against another woman who was also involved. Neal didn’t end up debuting as Novak until the fifth episode.

So on your next binge of the show, don’t get mixed up the next time you see Novak and then realize that she’s actually playing a different character!