Betty Buckley as Lorraine Maxwell on Law & Order: SVU
Credit: Getty Images

Actress and Tony-award-winning performer, Betty Buckley, is back on SVU! She plays a major role in the April 27, 2023, episode when she’s thrown into a squad investigation that directly impacts her husband. After only appearing in a handful of episodes in Season 24, is Betty Buckley returning to Law & Order for good? Keep reading to find out.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU or just SVU), is the police procedural drama, created by Dick Wolf, that follows trained detectives in the New York City Police Department as they investigate sexually related crimes. SVU is the first spin-off of Law Order and the second in the Law & Order franchise alongside Law & Order: Organized Crime. The TV series debuted in September 1999 starring Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni. SVU is currently in its 24th season and was recently renewed for Season 25, according to NBC Insider.

Award-winning actress Betty Buckley portrays Lorraine Maxwell, a trial division chief who has worked with Manhattan Special Victims Unit. (Although, she guest starred as Attorney Walsh on the series from 2006 to 2009). In her new stint as Maxwell, her character debuted in Season 23, Episode 8, “Nightmares In Drill City,” which aired in September 2021.

In an interview with Parade in April 2023, the actress talked about the unconventional way she landed the recurring role on the crime procedural. Buckley recalled writing to SVU showrunner Warren Leight, saying: “If it’s not too greedy of me, I’d like you to consider writing me a recurring role.” Then, a few weeks later, Buckley was cast as Maxwell.

Betty Buckley and Marisha Hargitay on Law & Order: SVU

Buckley further expressed her love for the SVU cast in an interview with NBC Insider in April 2023. “I really love this team of people…” she said. “It’s a very positive set of a really lovely group of human beings. And of course led by Mariska’s phenomenal energy. When she [Hargitay] hits the set, she’s a force of nature… She’s just always fully present and so happy to be there.”

Buckley rose to fame in the 1970s for her role as Abby Abbott in Eight is Enough and as gym teacher Miss Collins in the 1978 film, Carrie. Other big film projects include Frantic, Tender Mercies, Another Woman and Pippin. But perhaps Buckley is best known as an acclaimed Broadway star. She won a Tony award for playing Grizabella in the original production of Cats. She performed in popular musicals including Hello, Dolly! 1776, Sunset Boulevard and Triumph of Love.

Is Betty Buckley returning to Law & Order for good?

Betty Buckley as Lorraine Maxwell on Law & Order: SVU

Is Betty Buckley returning to Law & Order for good? Betty Buckley is a recurring character on SVU, so we’ll likely only see Maxwell appear time to time throughout Season 24 (and presumably Season 25, which was just renewed for the 2023-2024 season). This is unlike series regulars on SVU who appear in almost every episode and are usually contracted to work for several years.

Most recently, Buckley returned for Season 24, Episode 19, “Bend the Law.” In the episode, Dominick Carisi Jr. (Peter Scanavino) steps in when Maxwell’s husband is a “person of interest” in a Special Victims Unit investigation. Buckley said that she helped come up with the idea for the episode. “I actually pitched the idea for the story to [SVU writer] David Graziano and our head writer, executive producer Julie Martin,” Buckley told NBC Insider. “We had a Zoom meeting, and they really liked the storyline, and then David took it and ran with it and made it what it is in the episode. I was really gratified that they picked up the idea and wrote the episode for me.”

Last night’s episode also alluded to a conversation her character and Benson had in Season 24, Episode 4, “The Steps We Cannot Take.” “That last scene echoes a scene in a previous episode where I support Olivia by kind of bending the rules,” Buckley explained to Parade. “She uses my same speech on me at that moment. We have this real warmth, a deep connection, and a chemistry—and we’re trying to set boundaries in our professional relationship. Basically, [we’re] saying, ‘I will always support you, but in the end, I’m always going to be the professional.'”

Buckley ended the interview by stating that she’s so excited whenever she’s called to appear on an episode of Law & Order: SVU. “Whenever they call me to do an episode I’m just elated… Because it’s always such a happy experience to be there,” the actress stated.

Law & Order: SVU airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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