Best Law & Order Guest Stars

I know there have been tons of 'em, but try to pick two or three.

I nominate:

Denis O’Hare (Pro Se)- he played the mentally ill trained lawyer who killed everyone in a vintage clothing store. At the end, when he breaks down, especially after telling McCoy that he’s going to deliver a strong closing, it’s just so damn tragic.

Amanda Peet (Hot Pursuit)- I was shocked to find out that she played the thinly veiled Patty Hearst in this episode. She is amazing. It’s a shame she hasn’t made (or been able to make) a repeat performance in any of her films.

Spencer Breslin (Cherished)- he plays that evil adopted kid in the one with Heather Matarazzo (from Welcome to the Dollhouse). What an absolutely terrifying kid. I couldn’t watch Raising Helen 'cause he was in it (also, it was boring as hell).

Now you go (imdb.com and tv.com have the episode names, though most fans will know the episode you mean from a short recap)

Fisher Stevens (Angel) - Stevens brilliantly played a slimy defense attorney you love to hate. It was fascinating to see him get under McCoy’s collar.

Tim Guinee (Hubris) - he is arrested for killing his girlfriend at the jewelry store where she worked, along with her daughter and employers; and he represents himself at the trial. He manages to seduce and manipulate one of the jurors and is acquited (or was it a mistrial). He was just so damn slimy and manipulative it made my flesh crawl.

If it’s the episode I’m thinking of, it’s a hung jury. Then he gets killed in self-defense when he tries to murder the juror he seduced.

Meghan Follows in “Endurance.” She plays a woman who’s disabled son dies in a fire. After investigation, it becomes apparent that she had something to do with it. Man, that was a powerhouse performance.

I swear, this guy is my favorite too. I just saw a rerun on TNT (shocker!) and I wondered all through the episode if he was in it. It was the one where a crazy homeless had been terrorizing the residents of a building and then one of the residents attacked the crazy guy with a rebar because he had mugged the resident’s wife. Did O’Hare play the resident defendant?

That was him. He also played the priest in “Under God” who murdered a drug dealer because he thought it would give solace to his grieving parishioners. AND he also played the militia member who recites the Bill of Rights on the stand in “Nullification.” If O’Hare is in it, you’re pretty much assured it’ll be a good episode.

Ooooo! I forgot about the militia one. That sure is him, isn’t it? He’s great!

The first time I saw that episode, I did a double take when I saw Anne of Green Gables!
I nominate George Martin. Once he played a wealthy, conservative politician whose son has been kidnapped. He tries to obstruct the investigation because he’s terrified that it will come out that his son is a homosexual. On a later episode, he plays an old man with Alzheimers who killed his wife in a jealous rage.

Or Frances Fischer, who played a woman obsessed with a man whose wife has just been murdered. Everyone thinks the husband did it because Fischer claims they were having an affair-it’s later revealed she’s delusional.

My first thought was Hallee Hirsh, who played a very young psychopath in “Killerz”. She was the one who convinced her older friend to help her murder a young boy. Eventually they determine that she is completely ruined and will never be anything but a killer. Totally creepy and dead-on performance. I was shocked a few years ago to discover that this was based on a real case which happened in the UK in the early 70’s, and that the girl apparently grew up to be a normal member of society.

I also loved Molly Price in “Misconceptions”. She played Amy, a woman who intentionally had her boyfriend kick her in the stomach to kill her unborn baby so that they could squeeze money out of a lawyer they targeted as the father. For years this was my favorite L&O episode, and I always called it the “Amy” episode. I only learned its real name while I was looking it up today.

A few days ago I saw Annette O’Toole in “Mega”. She and Michael McKean play a couple who run a self-actualization seminar which is just a huge scam, and she ends up running a con on her husband to get him to murder someone so that he’ll go to jail and she’ll have all the money. Another totally creepy performance, especially at the end when Abby and Jack realize that she’s gotten away with it.

I can’t believe no one has mentioned Larry Miller as comedy club owner Michael Dobson – so good when he killed his first wife (in “Coma”) that they brought him back to kill his second wife in “Encore”. What I loved most about his performance in “Coma” was that I really believed that he loved his wife and couldn’t possibly be guilty, so I was completely shocked when he turned out to be the killer.

Finally, Daniel Hugh Kelly has been great in all of his L&O appearances (he played the Robert Blake character, as well as the councilman that Logan punches which leads to him being sent to Staten Island), but that’s just because I love Daniel Hugh Kelly in anything.

gotta go with John Ritter as the guy who cut his wife’s stomach open to kill her fetus. Talk about playing against character.

Not a guest role, per se, but a recurring role.

Fran Lebowitz as the arraignment judge. The episode that comes to mind is the one where Lucie Arnaz plays the makeup queen.

Robin

He was way under utilized in the episodes he was in, but I liked seeing Emilio Delgado (Luis from Sesame Street) in a dramatic role.

If we’re including recurring roles, no list would be complete without my “L&O Lawyer Hall of Fame”[ul]
[li]Tovah Feldshuh as “Danielle Melnick”[/li][li]Lorraine Toussaint as “Shambala Green”[/li][li]Jeffrey DeMunn as “Norman Rothenberg”[/li][li]and one whose name and character escapes me; he was a short little shmendrick who turned out to be a brilliant defender (appeared in at least 2 episodes)[/li][/ul] And for one-shots: [ul]
[li]Luis Ramos as Tommy Beltran in “Forgiveness”–murdered fiancee who broke up with him.[/li][li]Angie Phillips as Debra Elkins in “Breeder” as the crooked surrogate mom.[/li][li]David Groh as JudgeThayer in “Censure”–stalked ex-mistress and threatened her children.[/li][li]Future CI ADA Carver Courtney B. Vance as Bud Greer in “Rage”[/li][/ul]

This is the episode which generated, IMHO, one of the most chilling guest shots ever: Elizabeth Hanly Rice as the mother whose baby was “kidnapped” while she was at confession. The scene where she retraces her steps with Curtis was just AMAZING.

In the returning defense lawyer area, I’d have to say Dennis Boutsikaris is my third favorite (after Tovah & Lorraine) playing TWO DIFFERENT defense attorneys at various times.

And in the recurring character category, Leslie Hendrix as Dr. Rodgers the ME…she went toe-to-toe with anybody, including Lennie, and held her ground.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Marcia Jean Kurtz as Carla Lowenstein in two episodes. “Indifference” (the first one) was the best, but keeping her as the same character in “Fixed” in this latest season was GREAT continuity.

Would that be Mary Bell?

Dana Elcar (Virus): Great performance and so nice to see him after “MacGyver”.

I agree. And I was unaware until I read his recent obituary that he really was almost completely blind at the time. Makes you wonder if any of the bitterness his character had was based in reality. One of the late Mr. Elcar’s finest performances!

OK, I don’t know their names or the names of the specific episodes (damn you guys are good) but here’s mine that haven’t already been mentioned (Carla Lowenstein was my favorite of all-time):

How about the creepy guy that had a crush on his best friend’s wife, and wound up marrying her after the untimely death of the best friend. The wife finally figured out that her new husband killed her former one when McCoy proved he had no business trip when they “accidentally” bumped into each other.

The girl that killed her sister and pretended to be her. Great scene when she finally realized she was caught and said “My ‘sister’ didn’t have a life.”

The guy who was kinda slow and realized his wife kept killing their babies and burying them in ice coolers. Heartbreaking scene when he confronted her. “You’re a good person. I just don’t know why you do this.” He was also the LA ADA in that three-part episode.

Adam Arkin was great in that episode where he was defending his store from robbers, became a local hero, until they played the security tape that showed him reloading and chasing the bad guys down the street.

Actually, at the end of “Coma”, the only thing that was established was that Miller’s character had been acquainted with the shooter. Miller’s guilt was still objectively ambiguous, though I guess it was emotionally obvious when he smarmily says to McCoy “… and thanks to you, no alimony,” after McCoy successfully campaigns for a risky (and ultimately fatal) surgery to be performed on the comatose wife to recover the bullet.

William Kuntsler playing himself was kind of interesting.