Music

Ice-T Reveals His 5 Favorite Musician Guest Stars on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’

Ice-T may have risen to fame in the ’90s as a rapper and fronting the band Body Count, who courted controversy with their song “Cop Killer,” but these days he’s a cop himself — at least on TV. He’s Sgt. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola on NBC’s long-running police procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which kicks off its milestone 25th season on Thursday, Jan. 18, and it’s the rapper-actor’s 24th season on the Emmy-winning crime drama.

Over the show’s many seasons, it has featured countless entertainers as guest stars before they made it big (Stephen Colbert, Bradley Cooper, Adam Driver and Hayden Panettiere, for example), as well as household names (Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, Angela Lansbury and John Stamos, to name a few). But SVU has also given everything from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it guest spots to pivotal roles to musicians besides Ice, who has become a beloved staple alongside Mariska Hargitay’s Captain Olivia Benson (who one of Taylor Swift’s cats is named after).

Among them? Miranda Lambert, Heavy D, Sabrina Carpenter, Dave Navarro, Questlove (who played a dead body!) and many more.

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“The one thing about [creator] Dick Wolf [and production company Wolf Entertainment] is they understand how musicians translate into acting — they have no fear of that,” Ice tells Billboard. “I think Dick Wolf’s theory is, ‘If you could be a star at something, you could be a star at anything.’”

“My whole career doing music and being on SVU, I’ve never had Dick Wolf or any people then try to talk to me about music or anything, like, ‘Oh, Ice-T did ‘Cop Killer” or this that or the other,” adds the actor-musician. “I think from the Wolf perspective, ‘The bigger the star Ice-T is elsewhere, the bigger the star I have on my show.’ So when I go win a Grammy, it’s like SVU now has a Grammy Award-wining actor. He understands power is power.”

As for his run on the procedural, Ice — who’s up for a 2024 People’s Choice Award for drama TV star of the year — tells Billboard it’s not just his acting abilities that keep Fin on the drama. “[Wolf] sits back, he watches not only a performance but what are you bringing — kind of like what I always say is he looks at a show and goes, ‘If anybody’s tuning in to see Ice-T, yes, he stays on the show.’ If you’re on the show and they don’t think they’re tuning into see you, you can get one in the back of the head in the parking lot, you know?” the Grammy winner says. “For some reason, he likes me. I think I’ve done more television with Dick Wolf than anybody in his camp. I’m on five shows; I’ve been on seven, counting crossovers.” (The Law & Order franchise has boasted a total of seven different shows to date.)

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As for how much longer Ice can see himself playing Fin, the answer is a long time. “Yeah, I’ll stay on it. I have nothing better to do,” he shares. “Like I said, right now, it’s an easy gig for me. I’m still able to do Body Count, my music, I gig on the weekends; I got a daughter in school — it’s much easier. When you’re touring, you have to do 200 days a year on the road. … I said when Law & Order ends — whenever it does end — I’ll just go out and read for all Samuel L. Jackson’s parts!”

But until then, he’s happy to keep carrying Fin’s shield, and having musicians guest star on SVU alongside him. “I just love it when they bring hip-hop artists on,” Ice tells Billboard. “It’s one of those shows where if you got a fanbase and you throw your name in the hat, they might call you.”

While Ice isn’t sure which musician he’d like to see on the police procedural next, there are a few who have stood out in his mind as some of the most notable guest roles. Read on to see which five musicians are Ice-T’s favorite cameos on Law & Order: SVU.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs on NBC on Thursdays. Catch up on past seasons — as well as other shows in the Law & Order franchise — on Peacock.

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