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‘Law & Order’ newbie Rick Gonzalez recalls memorable moment with Chris Meloni on Season 1 of ‘SVU’

Some new faces are joining the "Law & Order: Organized Crime" crew for Season Three.
/ Source: TODAY

Fans have already fallen in love with the characters of "Law & Order: Organized Crime" three seasons in, and now, the squad is leveling up with two new cast members — one of whom isn't new to the "Law & Order" universe.

Say hello to Rick Gonzalez and Brent Antonello, who are joining Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and the Organized Crime team as Detective Bobby Reyes and Detective Jamie Whelan, respectively. Gonzalez appeared in a Season One episode of "Law & Order: SVU" back in 2000 alongside Meloni, and recently reflected on that guest appearance and his current role during a joint interview alongside Antonello with TODAY.

Law & Order: Organized Crime - Season 3
Gonzalez plays Detective Bobby Reyes and said "the stakes are going to be pretty high" this season and his character "loves to be in the mix — in the belly of the beast."Eric Liebowitz / NBC via Getty Ima

"I think we sort of bring a new energy to the unit," Gonzalez told TODAY at the "Law & Order" premiere red carpet event Sept. 19.

He added that people call his character "the invisible man" because he has so much experience as an undercover detective.

"He can be nobody and everybody at the same time, and that's going to be useful for the unit," Gonzalez added.

Law & Order: Organized Crime - Season 3
Antonello said portraying Detective Jamie Whelan is "so cool" because it's his first time working in New York City.Eric Liebowitz / NBC via Getty Ima

Antonello said he believes Meloni's Stabler "sees a lot of himself in Detective Jamie Whelan," and there's "this mentorship going on because he basically wants to let things settle down a little bit."

He added there's "a little hotheadedness" to Whelan, who also "goes off an instinct, gut rather than thinking about situations."

Both Antonello and Gonzalez have already learned so much from the few months they've had shooting with Meloni so far.

"I don't think people truly understand what he does when he's on set. I mean, from everything — from helping directors, writing, from helping us out, just helping me with a line — so gracious," Antonello said. "You can't say enough things about the guy."

Law & Order: Organized Crime - Season 3
Brent Antonello as Detective Jamie Whelan and Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler.Eric Liebowitz / NBC via Getty Ima

Gonzalez said: "You watch him work and you just see everything and all the knowledge he possesses for the show, and he just knows what everything needs in order to be successful."

"So I'm just watching him because he's the quintessential leading man for a TV show and knows what it takes to be successful," he added.

This is actually a "full-circle" moment for Gonzalez, who first crossed paths with Meloni in the "Law & Order" universe during the first season of "SVU" as a guest star on the episode "The Third Guy."

Gonzalez recalled working on the episode with his friend and "excellent actor" Eugene Byrd, and they were "both just experiencing that episode together with Chris and Mariska (Hargitay)."

"And this was their first season as well, but I remember their chemistry being so locked in for that first season wanting to make that show a hit."

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler in Season One of "Law & Order: SVU."NBCUniversal / Getty Images

Gonzalez said both Meloni and Hargitay were "so giving as actors in the scene," and he remembered one specific, unforgettable moment with Meloni.

"He kind of kicked me a little bit under the table as I was crying in the scene because he wanted me to have my face up for the camera to see me cry," Gonzalez said about Meloni. "And he's like, 'We don't hide our face.' So it was just kind of like, OK, I'm a new actor just kind of figuring it out."

"But it's those moments that you take with you forever," he added.

Gonzalez and Antonello will make their first appearances in Season Three, episode two of "Organized Crime," "Everybody Knows the Dice are Loaded," on Sept. 29 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following "Law & Order" at 8 p.m. and "Law & Order: SVU" at 9 p.m.