Christopher Meloni Says Viral Photo of His 'Asset' Was 'Warm Welcome' Back to 'Law & Order' Universe

The Organized Crime star went viral last year after a fan snapped a picture of his butt on set 

Chris Meloni
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Christopher Meloni is reflecting on a viral photo taken of him last year — and how it signaled his return to the Law & Order universe.

Meloni, 60, played Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit alongside Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson for 12 seasons until his departure in 2011. Last year, though, he reprised the role for the spinoff Organized Crime, which is currently airing its second season.

While filming for the series in April, a fan posted a photo of him stretching on set that prompted somewhat of an internet obsession with his butt. He discussed the viral picture during the latest episode of the Fitness+ podcast, Time to Walk, on Monday.

"We were shooting in Brooklyn and an innocent bystander took a picture of me as I was stretching, or just kind of leisurely testing out the mobility of my hunches, but they took a shot of my rear end — my asset — and it hit the interweb and became an international sensation overnight," Meloni recalled.

Christopher Meloni
Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

"It traveled the globe," he continued. "And I was given the moniker 'Zaddy' which I believe means an elderly gentleman with a certain patina of sexiness to them. My first reaction was 'What the hell?' and it really made me laugh. But I also felt as though their response was almost their warm welcoming of Stabler back and me back in this role."

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He said he realized he was in a "unique situation," getting another chance at playing Stabler at age 60, especially because the role is so physically demanding.

"I was like 'This is kind of a dream right now.' I didn't take it lightly," Meloni said.

Earlier in the episode, he explained that it was important to him to prepare for the role both emotionally and physically.

Law & Order: Organized Crime - Christopher Meloni
Christopher Meloni on season 2 of Organized Crime. Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

"You jump back into the Law & Order universe especially with a character that, at least from what I can figure, was beloved and controversial and made a certain impact on the TV landscape and you're invited back 10 years after the fact — I took that very seriously," he said.

"I actually focused on the character and where he'd been, but it was the physical I thought which was equally important because I felt as though many people would remember me/Elliot Stabler as he was 10 years prior, because that's the last time they would have seen me physically, Meloni added.

He said he knew he was going to appear older, but he still wanted Elliot to look like he was in his prime.

"I wanted to give that sense of he came back almost like chiseled in granite," Meloni said. "I wanted him to be the most physically fit, focused, physical presence that they'd ever seen. And I was actually on a weight training physical fitness program with my trainer for over a year to prepare for the role. That paid dividends."

All Time to Walk episodes are available in the Workout app on Apple Watch with a Fitness+ subscription.

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