There's no rite of passage for an actor like a guest appearance on "Law & Order."
The mothership series returns Thursday after it went off the air in 2010 following a historic 20-year run. TODAY caught up with some of the revival's stars last week at a press junket and gauged Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson's interests in having some of their more recent castmates from other successful series work with them on an episode of "Law and Order."
"Oh, there's an idea!" Waterston exclaimed. "I'd love that."
Waterston added he would be thrilled to have "any one of them" on "Law & Order" and that "it was so much fun doing that show together."
Waterston, who plays district attorney Jack McCoy, is one of two original "Law & Order" cast members reprising his role for the reboot — the other being Anthony Anderson, who portrays Det. Kevin Bernard, and has also found more recent success on the hit series "black-ish."
Anderson didn't hesitate to say he'd love to have Marsai Martin, who plays Anderson's character's youngest daughter on the ABC sitcom.
"Marsai Martin. Lock her a-- up for all the things she put us through on 'black-ish,'" Anderson cracked.
"So, Marsai Martin is who I'd like to see over here commit a crime," he added. "So I could be like, 'Bam! You going down girl.'"
Before joining "Law & Order" in 2008, Anderson first appeared in a season seven episode of "Law & Order: SVU." His character was tasked with working alongside Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) when Stabler was in need of a new partner after his longtime one, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), requested a new assignment.
It's fair to say Stabler wasn't the easiest to work with in that moment after losing his partner of over seven years, and after a few heated exchanges, the two came to blows in the squad room.
"Meloni is a bit aggressive, as you can see by the tats and the bald head," Anderson joked.
"We had a lot of fun doing that," Anderson said about the fight scene with Meloni. "We both left a little bloody and our clothes were a little ripped, but it was all, you know, for a good cause — for these characters and for the show."
He added that scene with Meloni is one of the things he remembers most from his earlier days on "Law & Order" and hopes that his character will cross over with Meloni's Stabler "soon" on "Law & Order: Organized Crime," as well as Hargitay's Benson and Ice-T's Sgt. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola over on "SVU."
Anderson's partner in the revived "Law & Order" is Frank Cosgrove, who's played by Jeffrey Donovan.
Donovan told TODAY he'd love to bring his former "Burn Notice" cast members Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless on to "Law & Order" at some point as guest stars.
"I spent seven years with them," he said. "They feel like my mom and my brother and I've already reached out to them, and I hope they come on."
And when it comes to characters already in the "Law & Order" world, Donovan said he'd love to share a scene with Meloni and Hargitay.
"I've known Chris for a long time. I just met Mariska," he said. "What a lovely person and couldn't have been more warm and welcoming to me."
"I'm excited about that entire cast," he continued. "They have an incredible chemistry, and they're doing something right. Hopefully we can follow in their footsteps, and to join them would be a treat."
They have an incredible chemistry, and they're doing something right. Hopefully we can follow in their footsteps, and to join them would be a treat.
Jeffrey Donovan on 'law & order' crossovers
Hugh Dancy, who portrays ADA Nolan Price on the revived "Law & Order," also said he'd love to cross over and work with Hargitay because like Waterston on "Law & Order," she's "built something equivalent" in terms of "an iconic" brand over at "SVU."
Dancy's wife, Claire Danes, appeared on an episode of "Law & Order" in 1992.
When asked if Danes had any advice for him before his new role, Dancy joked, "'Don't play the murderer!' No, she didn't say that," he said. "She didn't, no, but she told me about that — I had forgotten that she was on the show. And then of course, of course she was on the show because like every single New York actor that I've ever worked with, or known, has been on the show. That's a big part of the appeal to me."
Camryn Manheim, who will play Lt. Kate Dixon on the upcoming "Law & Order," actually got her start on TV during the original run of the series and appeared as three different characters.
The one character who was "really important" to her to portray was a lawyer who knew sign language.
"I had a deaf client, and that was like all of my loves coming together," she said. "I'm fluent in sign language and I was an interpreter for many years and I love to act."
When she came back to the "Law & Order" universe this time around, she received a very special call from "the goddess of 'Law & Order,'" Hargitay, who invited her over to her house to indulge in Shack Shack.
"I was pretty excited about that," Manheim said, before adding she's known Hargitay "for many years."
"To have somebody reach out their hand in an institution like this and say, 'You're welcome. I want to welcome you on board,' was really special."
She also hopes her character can find a friend in Benson.
"She made a call when we were together saying, 'I want to hang out with Lt. Dixon on her show, so let's do a crossover,'" Manheim said about Hargitay.
Another actor joining the "Law & Order" cast who's excited about the powerful women in the franchise is Odelya Halevi, who plays ADA Samantha Maroun.
"I have been watching this show since I was a kid," she said. "I've been watching all these, you know Sam Waterston, and the female ADAs — all these like strong female characters. And I thought I wanted to be a lawyer because I just assumed they were lawyers, and I was a kid, but they were actors."
"So for me, it was really a dream come true," she added.
While the original "Law & Order" was mainly focused on cases and less about characters' experiences outside of the office, Halevi teased the first episode of the reboot jumps right into a bit of her character's personal life.
"I think that's the change that happened between the old 'Law & Order,' which is pretty much the same, but in the new one I do have a backstory that's revealed in the first episode."
“Law & Order” returns Thursday, Feb. 24, on NBC at 8 p.m. ET, followed by “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”