10 Hollywood Actors Who Got Their Start In The Franchise

Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Law & Order: SVU have been some of the longest-running crime dramas on cable television. While the first series met its end in 2010, SVU is still going strong after its debut in 1999. Over the countless episodes and seasons, there have been many guest stars that now look very familiar.

RELATED: Law & Order SVU: 10 Guest Stars Who Went On To Have Major Roles

Hollywood actors credit the series for being their first big break in acting. It’s an honor to get a role in the franchise and many guest stars went on to become some of Hollywood’s biggest television and movie stars with Emmy and Oscar nominations. There are even a few guest stars that went on to portray vital characters in the MCU.

10 David Harbour

Harbour as Mike in "Patsy"

While David Harbour may have gotten critical acclaim for his role in Stranger Things, he first got his start in the crime drama franchise. Harbour got his break into movies in 2004, but his first credited role was in 1999 when he played a guest role as Mike in an episode entitled “Patsy” in Law & Order.

His second credited role was three years later when he appeared as a character named Terry in SVU. Since then, Harbour has climbed the ranks with the Netflix series, as well as becoming Hellboy in the reboot of the cult classic comic book movie.

9 Kate Mara

Mara as Lori in "Pixies"

Kate Mara gained recognition for her role in the political drama, House of Cards. She’s also known for the movies Brokeback Mountain and the reboot of Fantastic Four. But her journey to Hollywood first started in Law & Order. She played Jenna Erlich in the episode “Shadow” and it is her first credited role in her career.

Four years later, she would reappear in the franchise, but in SVU as Lori, a teen gymnast being questioned for murder in “Pixies.” While still appearing in shows and movies, she landed her role in Brokeback Mountian at just 19-years-old.

8 Sarah Paulson

Paulson in "Family Values" and "Shadow"

Sarah Paulson became known for her outstanding role in American Horror Story, as well as for portraying one of the evilest movie and book nurses, Nurse Ratched on Netflix. But Paulson’s earliest and first known acting job was a guest role in Law & Order. She first appeared in the season five episode, “Family Values” when she played the daughter of a murder victim.

Since then, Paulson rose to fame and started appearing in many on-screen works, leading to her roles in 12 Years a SlaveOcean’s 8, and American Horror Story. In between, she would make another appearance as a spoiled heiress in SVU in the episode, “Shadow.”

7 Jennifer Garner

Garner in "Aftershock" as Jaime

Jennifer Garner became a notable actress in Hollywood, as well as amongst comic book fans, for portraying the live-action version of Elektra. Before her rise to fame, she first made her break in an episode of Law & Order. In 1996, she appeared in “Aftershock” as Jaime.

RELATED: Law & Order: SVU: 10 Episodes Based On Real-Life Cases

Since that appearance, Garner would go on to have a breakthrough supporting role in Pearl Harbor and gained further recognition in the thriller television show, Alias from 2001 until 2006. She would then win a Golden Globe and SAG award for her role in the show.

6 Sarah Hyland

Hyland as Lily Ramsey in "Repression" and "Hothouse"

Sarah Hyland is one of the franchise’s most recognized guest stars, seeing as she made an appearance twice. Both her appearances were highly acclaimed episodes. She first appeared as Lily Ramsey in “Repression.” She was still a young girl during this role and would make another appearance in Law & Order in 2004.

In 2009, she would have an outstanding role as Jennifer Banks in SVU in “Hothouse.” That same year, Hyland would take on the biggest role in her career when she became Hayley Dunphy in the award-winning sitcom, Modern Family. She would win four SAG awards and multiple nominations for her role.

5 Adam Driver

Driver as Jason Roberts in "Theater Tricks"

Adam Driver became known for his on-stage work before hitting it big on screen. He wowed audiences when he made an appearance in SVU as Jason Roberts in “Theater Tricks” in 2010. Before his appearance, he had only done one prior television role.

After SVU, Driver would make the leap to the big screen in 2011. He appeared as Walter Lyle in the Clint Eastwood movie, J.Edgar. Driver would then continue to make a name for himself and land a role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

4 John Krasinksi

as Jace Gleesing in "Mad Hops"

Before John Kraskisnki became known in his role as Jim in the American version of The Office, he had a guest role in Law & Order Criminal Intent. He would appear as Jace Gleesing in “Mad Hops.” Up until 2004, Krasinki made small appearances on television and in movies.

The following year, he would become Jim Halpert for 201 episodes of The Office. Krasinski would later be seen in other popular works, like A Quiet Place, and Jack Ryan, which would get him nominated for a SAG award.

3 Zoe Saldana

Saldana as Gabrielle Vega in "Criminal"

When it comes to badass female characters in the MCU, Zoe Saldana portrayed one of the baddest. She became known worldwide for taking on the role of Gamora. But before she transitioned into movies, she got her start in Law & Order. 

RELATED: Law & Order: 10 Hidden Details About The Main Characters Everyone Missed

Her first credited role was in 1999 when she appeared as a supporting character of a potential suspect in two episodes as Belinca. In 2000, she would then get a role in Center Stage as Eva Rodriguez. Saldanaa would then appear in SVU in 2004 in another role.

2 Viola Davis

Vila Davis as as Attorney Campbell in SVU

Before Viola Davis’s appearance in Law & Order, she had a role in another series titled City of Angels. Before this, Davis was an up and coming actor who later appeared in the episode, “Badge” when she appeared as Attorney Campbell. Since that role in 2002, she made her way into Hollywood and appeared in Disturbia, Law Abiding Citizen, and her most well-known works, The Help and Fences.

Davis would then comeback to the Law & Order franchise for seven episodes of SVU as Donn Emmett. Soon after, she would get her biggest television role as the lead role, Annalise Keating, in How to Get Away with Murder.

1 Chadwick Boseman

Boseman as Foster Keyes in Law & Order

Chadwick Boseman would come to perfectly portray one of Marvel’s best heroes. He gained worldwide recognition for his role as T’Challa aka Black Panther in the MCU. Before his rise to stardom, though, Boseman first started out in television roles, one of them being Foster Keyes in Law & Order.

He appeared in the 2004 episode “Can I Get a Witness?” Some fans might even remember him for his recurring role in All My Children. After Law & Order, Boseman would go on to portray Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get on Up. 

NEXT: Krasinski & Blunt (& 9 Other Hollywood Couples That Starred In Movies Together)


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