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"The Rosie O'Donnell Show" (December 12 1999)

Rosie: Not only is our next guest a star on Oz, one of my favorite shows, but you can also catch him every Monday night on NBC's Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, please take a look.

[Clip with Dickey and the Turtle.]

Rosie: Please welcome Christopher Meloni. I love this, hi, Christopher, how nice you are to bring me flowers.

Chris: Those are a bribe, I want you to forget about... Tommy.

Rosie: Oh, really?

Chris: Start thinking about me.

Rosie: Interesting, Chris. You have very beautiful eyes, I could fall for you, I'm telling you. These are lovely.

Chris: Thank you.

Rosie: You were so funny in Runaway Bride.

Chris: Thanks a lot.

Rosie: You usually are playing sort of the mean evil guy--

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: I'm used to seeing you as the guy in jail on Oz.

Chris: Yeah, God bless Julia Roberts and Gary Marshall for seeing through that and giving me a shot.

Rosie: Yeah, they made you the funny kind of happy go lucky sports enthusiast.

Chris: Yeah, the kind of gung ho sort of fella.

Rosie: Right. Where'd you start acting? In plays or...

Chris: I'd say in classrooms, that sort of thing, acting up. Yeah, straight out of college, came to New York. I actually didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I asked a friend of mine, I said, "what are you doing with your life?" Because I was like, on a construction site somewhere, he goes "Well, I'm going up to New York to study acting." I said, "Great, so am I. What's their number?" I flew up to New York the next day.

Rosie: And you just enrolled in classes here?

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: Now was the first thing, first big thing for you the NYPD Blue when you were so horrible to Kim Delaney?

Chris: You know, I had done small stuff for Terry Gilliam, I had done 12 Monkeys, but yeah, NYPD Blue, they gave it to me site unseen, which I thought, "oh, they know who I am?" I didn't even have to audition. That's the best part. I went in and...Kim and I had a great time.

Rosie: You were the horrible, horrible guy.

Chris: Well...Yeah. I know I affected people. I was in a grocery store one time and this woman came up to me, and I'm at the checkout counter and I feel this arm grab me. I look over, she goes, "You're horrible. You're so mean." Then she sidles up to me, she says, "But you're sexy."

Rosie: Well, that's not bad. But let me ask you, you're doing Oz, but you still have time to do a whole other series. How did that happen? Isn't it--

Chris: Yeah, you know, Tom Fontana, who's the producer of Oz, and Dick Wolf who's the producer of Law and Order: Specials Victims Unit, they're best friends. So I was doing Oz and I get a call saying , "Audition for Dick Wolf." I audition. Great. Never hear from the guy. I'm calling my agent, and they always give you the pat answer, "They love you!'" "Yeah, well, I'm not hearing from them." It's like dating. I say the heck with it, I'm going to go off, take a vacation, a well deserved vacation. So I'm off in Hawaii. I am not in Hawaii 12 hours, I get a call from my agent. "Fly to New York, they want to screen test you." Never been to Hawaii. So I literally--The rubber was still hot on the airplane tires.

Rosie: And that's a ten hour flight.

Chris: Yeah. So I fly back immediately, I wasn't in Hawaii more than 12 hours. Fly to New York, screen test, I get it. I figure, great, I'm going back to Hawaii, celebrate our little victory. Now it's 18 hours or whatever. Fly back to Hawaii, and I get there and--I'm not feeling too well, I figure it's all the stress and strain, I got agida.

Rosie: Sure.

Chris: So I go out and, what do you do when you have agida, you take it easy, right? So I go out, have a big Italian meal, bottle of wine.

Rosie: Good, that's a good move.

Chris: So I get home and my stomach is so tight that I'm in bed like this-- my legs aren't even touching the bed. I go 'I think there's something wrong.' I had to get my gallbladder out.

Rosie: In Hawaii?

Chris: That's what they wanted!

Rosie: Really?

Chris: Yeah, the Doctors in Hawaii, "oh, no, you should stay here." Like they invented gallbladder removal. I said, "You know guys, I love your pina coladas, but I'm going back to LA."

Rosie: So you flew with that pain, though.

Chris: Yes.

Rosie: Were you nervous to do that?

Chris: The doctors were more nervous than I was. Because they had this vision of me going--[pretends to keel over].

Rosie: In the flight, that wouldn't have been good.

Chris: Yeah, and in first class, that would have been really ugly.

Rosie: I had the mumps when I was in Hawaii.

Chris: Really?

Rosie: I had the mumps, I was working a comedy club there and I had the mumps. I went to the kamehameha clinic--I'm not kidding you. And I had the mumps in Hawaii. I don't know if that trumps a gallbladder in Hawaii. But in terms of medical poker, how do they compare?

Chris: I don't know, but I'm thinking, I got a part, I had to give my gallbladder up. The next time it'll be, "You get the part but...we need a kidney."

Rosie: That's a lot to ask. Can I ask, speaking of body parts, I've seen you nude.

[Audience woohoos]

Rosie: Whenever I see people nude--

Chris: Is it wrong?

Rosie: Well, you know, frankly, it's not wrong, but it is distracting. When we see like, Dennis Franz, and I've just seen his hiney, it's one thing, but YOU. The whole meat a potatoes. You were nudie patootie in that Oz. Were you nervous when you heard that you had to be a nudie patootie?

Chris: No, actually, it was very funny. I said to one of the directors, I said, "Okay, so you're throwing me into the--into the hole, segregation cell, and I'm naked--" He's like, "Yeah, yeah, don't worry about it--" I said, No, no, I want--I want a good shot!

Rosie: You said that?

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: It's in the opening credits, you know.

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: They throw you in nude every week.

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: I've seen it every week.

Chris: Yeah.

Rosie: It's enjoyable.

Chris: Sure.

Rosie: You're totally nude. I always think if people can be nude and have no inhibitions, good for them. Me? I take a towel when I walk in my bedroom alone. I just think you never know who could be lurking somewhere.

Chris: You're just tiptoeing around.

Rosie: But you, you're like. HELLO! You never had any qualms?

Chris: No, I had qualms about getting intimate with a guy.

Rosie: Yeah, you had that? That was a lovely scene, though. That whole storyline. But you were so mean to him.

Chris: Yeah, but you know, I'll tell you, I was so shocked at how many cords it hit with people, be they gay, straight, male, female. They want to know. I've had more people go, "Is it love?" I say, "well, you've go to watch the show."

Rosie: What he did was, he pretended to be in love with this guy who was his cellmate, and then he had him brutally tortured and beaten up and almost killed, but he's still in love with him, but now the guy won't go back with him, and I don't think he should, because you're a mean, mean, horrible person in that show.

Chris: Love hurts.

Rosie: I understand. Sadly, I understand. But I'm hoping he leaves you for somebody else. Anyway, the show Law and Order is on Mondays on NBC, Special Victims Unit is on every week, Monday night. Thank you for being here.

Chris: Thank you.

Rosie: Lovely to meet you.