Favorite Law & Order Guest Stars Before They Were Famous

Last week’s news that NBC was canceling long-running television series Law & Order appeared to take a lot of people by surprise. The show, which is in its 20th season, has now been running for so long that there is an entire generation of New Yorkers (and others) who don’t know television viewing without it. There is a also an entire generation of up-and-coming actors who will now be without the frequently successful entree into acting life it provided. For a business as risky as acting, L&O certainly has an impressive track record when it comes to plucking future stars. Turn on any of the ubiquitous re-runs and you are bound to catch a glimpse of a current famous face before they became starry. Here’s a list of our top ten before they were famous guest appearances. Side note: I didn’t include various cast members of The Wire, though it seems like every time I stumble upon a L&O episode one of them pop up.

Back When They Were Really, Really Young

Claire Danes
Longtime watchers of the show will likely know this, but before Danes became a movie star, even before she began wandering the high school halls in My So Called Life, she played a…promiscuous teen on an early L&O episode.

Skin Deep
Airdate: Wednesday September 23, 1992
Summary: After photographer Julian Decker is found murdered in his studio, Logan and Cerreta discover that Decker’s real business was prostitution and acting as a pimp for models who aren’t getting the work they needed. Their investigation leads to Angela Brandt, one of Decker’s models who found more money working for Decker in other ways, but they also discover that Decker was romantically involved with Angela’s teenage daughter. Stone realizes that something strange is going on when the case gets weaker against Angela, but all of a sudden she wants to cut a deal.

Leighton Meester
She’s young in this clip but if you look close you can see a burgeoning Blair Waldorf. Bonus: Video clip!
Airdate: 2/24/1999
Summary: After a teen is found dead in the emergency room, the investigation leads to a case involving a religious ritual and a defendant who claims that the action taken was dictated by a saint’s voice.

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