The worlds of producer Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” and “Chicago” franchises have crossed over several times, but S. Epatha Merkerson isn’t worried about being a different character in each.
The Emmy-winning actress had a guest role on the parent “Law & Order” before returning for her long run on it as Lt. Anita Van Buren, so — even though “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” aligns with “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD” on occasion – she’s not overly concerned about making a new place for herself in Wolf’s universe as hospital administrator Sharon Goodwin on “Chicago Med,” his latest NBC drama series, which has just started its Tuesday run.
“I think it will be cool to see what happens when Benson [‘L&O: SVU’s’ Mariska Hargitay] runs into Goodwin.” Merkerson tells Zap2it of that inevitable meeting, adding that she expects the quality of her “Chicago Med” run to be “similar to the 17 years I spent on ‘Law & Order.’ No actor will stay that long unless something is happening that’s allowing them to feel good about the work that they’re doing, and good about the people that they’re working with.
“It’s another group of writers, an entirely new group of producers,” Merkerson allows, “but the cog in this wheel for me is Dick Wolf. I actually did an episode in the very first season of ‘Law & Order,’ so I’ve been working with Dick the longest. What I’ve learned about this man is that he is also protective — I’m speaking only of myself, but I know that about all the actors — he’s very protective of us and he wants what’s good for us. That I’m doing this show, and working with this company again, has all to do with the people that he surrounds himself with.”
Admitting she’s been “spoiled” in being able to work in or near her New York home base “and stay in my own apartment,” Merkerson embraces spending much time in the Windy City for the new show’s on-location filming. She also anticipates “Chicago Med” holding to her belief that “television, at its best, is a teaching tool as well. And at the end of the day, if you leave that hour and you’ve picked up something and you’ve enjoyed what you’ve watched, that’s a hell of a show.”