‘Law & Order: SVU’ Villain Dylan McDermott Admits He Instantly ‘Clicked’ With This Franchise Veteran

As the mafia boss Richard Wheatly, Dylan McDermott is a welcome addition to Law & Order: SVU. The actor gets along great with his co-stars, but there was one franchise veteran he admits he clicked with right away. 

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the Dec. 9 episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime.]

Dylan McDermott appears in the ‘Law & Order: SVU’ crossover event 

Raúl Esparza as Counselor Rafael Barba, Dylan McDermott as Richard Wheatley in 'Law & Order: SVU'
Raúl Esparza as Counselor Rafael Barba, Dylan McDermott as Richard Wheatley in ‘Law & Order: SVU’

McDermott’s Richard Wheatly made his Law & Order debut in season 1 of Organized Crime. Not only does the criminal mastermind run a sophisticated drug trafficking ring, but he’s also responsible for the heinous murder of Elliot Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) wife, Kathy. 

In the Dec. 9 Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime crossover, Wheatly is brought to trial to face murder charges related to Kathy’s death. And as a big shock to Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the rest of the SVU team, Wheatley shows up to court with former ADA Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza). 

Barba worked closely with Olivia and the SVU for years. So to see him represent such a ruthless criminal comes as a significant blow. 

Dylan McDermott immediately clicked with Raúl Esparza

Wheatly and Barba’s dynamic may be complicated on-screen. But off-screen, McDermott and Raúl Esparza sparked a great friendship right away. 

RELATED: ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’: Stabler’s Return to Normal Life Will Be ‘Fraught’

“Raúl and I just got along immediately,” McDermott told E! News. “We just clicked. There was just this shorthand we had between each other, this simpatico.”

“[Barba] knew he was dealing with someone formidable with Richard Wheatley,” he continued. “So a lot of times in acting, so much of it is hinging on the relationship and I think the Barba-Wheatley relationship is certainly in both episodes.” 

He’s had a great time playing Richard Wheatly in the ‘Law & Order: SVU’ crossover

McDermott’s Wheatly storyline has been building since season 1 of Law & Order: Organized Crime. And seeing his fate unravel on the crossover was as thrilling for McDermott as it was for fans. 

“To be on that set and to be with the crew and to be with Mariska and then Stabler comes over, it’s just what a great night of television,” the actor said in his chat with E! News. “The build-up to it, it’s been so long now. To be in the Dick Wolf world in both shows I just thought was fascinating.” 

Richard Wheatly is one of the franchise’s biggest villains, but he’s one of those bad guys fans love to hate. McDermott suggests it’s because Wheatly is a character viewers are getting to know inside and out.

“I think with any character that kind of gets under your skin in a way, there’s an understanding,” McDermott explained. “There’s an understanding I have about Wheatley and I think that’s why people are interested in him because once you understand the character, you can really be him. That’s the fun part of being Wheatley because it’s so delicious at that level.” 

Noting how much fun he’s having with the character McDermott added, “It’s fun to come to work and it’s fun to daydream about it. It’s fun to think about what I’m going to do, how I’m going to kind of apply what I do to the scene and make up stuff. All that stuff is so creatively exciting.”

New episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime air Thursday nights on NBC.