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16 Big Stars Who Showed Up On 'Law and Order: SVU' Before They Were Famous

Updated August 14, 2020 1.2k votes 209 voters 13.9k views16 items

List RulesVote up the stars you were surprised to see.

In early 2019, NBC renewed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) for a record-breaking 21st season. While the award-winning series is well-known for its plotlines revolving around sexually oriented and particularly heinous crimes, it also stands out for its "Who's Who" list of actors who have made guest appearances over the years. Some of these actors, such as Robin Williams and Carol Burnett, were household names before appearing on the show. But several others who were cast in guest spots on SVU were lesser-known actors who have since become famous.  

Vote up the names that you are most surprised to learn appeared on the show.

Photo:
  • Photo: NBC

    Original Air Date: May 3, 2005

    Bradley Cooper appeared in the role of attorney Jason Whitaker, whose client is the prime suspect in an investigation. Cooper later reprised this character in the Law & Order: Trial By Jury Season 1 episode "Day."

    Cooper had his breakout in the 2009 film The Hangover. In 2013, he received the first of his three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor when he was singled out for his role in Silver Linings Playbook. He also has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor (for 2014's American Hustle) and a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play (for 2015's The Elephant Man) and won a Grammy Award for his duet with Lady Gaga on "Shallow." 

    • Age: 45
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
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  • Photo: NBC

    Original Air Dates: September 28, 2001 & January 13, 2009

    Sarah Hyland was 10 years old when she played the small role of Lily Ramsey in the midst of some family drama. Eight years later, Hyland made a second appearance on the show as more of a leading lady. 

    In 2009, shortly after making her second guest appearance, Hyland began appearing as Haley Dunphy in the television series Modern Family. Along with the awards and nominations she has shared with her castmates for the ensemble work, Hyland has received a Critics' Choice Television Awards nomination and several multiple Teen Choice Awards nominations for her performance on the show.

    • Age: 29
    • Birthplace: New York, New York, USA
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  • Photo: NBC

    Original Air Date: May 16, 2006

    Norman Reedus portrayed a rock star named Derek Lord who is known for his negative views on psychotherapy due to his experience with electroshock therapy.

    Reedus had his career breakthrough in 2010 when he began playing the role of Daryl Dixon on the AMC series The Walking Dead. This character was not in the original comic book series; instead, it was especially created for Reedus after he auditioned for a different role. He also has his own reality travel show on AMC, Ride with Norman Reedus.

    • Age: 51
    • Birthplace: Hollywood, Florida, United States of America
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  • Photo: NBC

    Original Air Date: November 9, 2001

    Elizabeth Banks played Jaina Jansen, an adult film actor.

    Banks began getting more exposure after appearing in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005). In 2010, she began a recurring role as Alec Baldwin's love interest in the series 30 Rock, earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2012; she received a second Emmy nomination in this category in 2015 for her appearance on Modern Family. She gained more recognition when she appeared as Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games series as well as having roles in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2. Banks is also a director, screenwriter, and producer; she took on the directing and producing roles for Pitch Perfect 2, while she wrote and directed the 2019 film Charlie's Angels.

    • Age: 46
    • Birthplace: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA
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