Christopher Meloni covers Men’s Health September issue photographed by Ben Watts.
The toughest cop on TV just turned 60. Christopher Meloni, 2021’s most-unexpected sex symbol, keeps getting stronger and now he’s back with his own show, Law & Order: Organized Crime. Finally, he’s calling the shots and loving his life. IT’S MELONI TIME.
On having a renaissance in the back third of his life: “My ass is. It’s cool as shit. The aspect of age comes into play as far as the cover of [this magazine] and how I feel about it. A friend of mine said, ‘Did you ever think in a million years you’d be on the cover of Men’s Health?’ I said, ‘Certainly not at age 60.’”
On the tension in his family during his childhood: “Living in that house was like living in a dark cloud…I just remember always looking around, like, ‘Am I fucking crazy?’…I could feel it. The trauma of childhood is real. And I carry that with me.”
On how he deals with the anxiety his success brought him: “When something weird and out of the norm happens, I don’t panic. I always sit with it and go, All right, let’s experience what’s happening, because getting tenser is not going to help the situation.”
On how he felt when his career started taking off: “When my career started to happen, I could feel it. But I didn’t want to trust it, because I had struggled for so long—or at least it felt like I’d struggled for so long—and I didn’t want it to go away. I don’t know how many people get this opportunity to dream a dream and have it come to fruition. Because everyone does the first part, but to have it come to fruition then starts a whole other journey of Now what? And What is this? And How do you manage? This doesn’t fall under the category of burden or anything like that. It’s just a new world. You’re so used to the old way of: I have to keep this mindset and I’ll just dream a dream. But if the dream actually happens, then you’re like, Okay, now we have to manage the dream. What do we do, actually?”
On how his contract negotiations for Law & Order: SVU broke down: “My thought was: Instead of 22 episodes, bring me back for nine episodes, or bring me back for 18 episodes. They literally came to me on a Thursday night and said, ‘This is the deal. We want the answer by tomorrow. It’s our way or no way.’ I don’t want to fuck around with you guys. This is what I want. If you can’t do it, that’s fine. Let’s figure out my exit.”
On his mentality this time with Law & Order: Organized Crime: “This time around with the Law & Order ride, I’m not stressed by: Will it go well? Will it not go well? Not that I know how it’s going to go. Just that, eh, just ride. Just do, just be. There are bigger things, more important things. I know how important this is to me, but I have a clearer vision of life. I know a little more about love. I know a little more about real pain. I know about joy. I know better management skills. As you go through life, you get a clearer understanding of things, of your holes and of your gifts.”
[Photo Credit: Ben Watts for Men’s Health Magazine]
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