Aimé Donna Kelly on Benson & Curry’s Partnership, Joining the Squad and More


The SVU squad now has two captains, but don’t worry—it’s still Olivia Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) unit. Curry, moving over from Internal Affairs, is just looking to do some good and, as Aimé Donna Kelly puts it, learn “from the best.”

In the February 22 episode of Law & Order: SVU, “Zone Rouge,” a cryptic message sends the team on a new track to find Maddie, the teen whom Benson has been trying to find since the Season 25 premiere. Plus, Benson tries to help a federal agent when the case hits too close to home, and Curry tries to make amends with Fin (Ice-T).

Below, Kelly talks about Curry’s move over to SVU and previews this week’s case.

It’s no secret how everyone feels about internal affairs in general, so how is the transition going to go for Curry?

Aimé Donna Kelly: The transition is going pretty well. Curry is definitely being put through the wringer. As you know, we first meet Curry when she led an investigation into Benson’s conduct in Season 22, and luckily Benson didn’t write her off. Benson actually has a lot of respect for Curry. In last week’s episode, Benson asked Curry to shadow an investigation with Chief McGrath [Terry Serpico], and at the end of the day, McGrath steps down from his role and it all kind of ties in with Curry’s background and making sure that everything is on the up and up. I think Curry is having this moment when she realizes that there is more to be done in the world, SVU is really doing a lot of good, and Curry wants to be a part of that, and she’s learning from the best.

Yeah, she says she’s looking to make a difference. She says life’s about more than just career goals, but is it feasible for this to be a permanent move for her, especially when you consider the higher ups who could have something to say about this, despite McGrath not really being an issue right now?

In the previous episode, Benson makes that joke about not really having anyone looking over our shoulder and we’ll have an acting chief, which is basically the equivalent of a substitute teacher. So right now, without folks looking over us too closely, we can kind of bend the rules a little bit, which is a new thing for Curry to do, but I think it really works with this dynamic. And again, she just wants to learn everything that she can from Benson, Fin, and Carisi [Peter Scanavino] and just how everyone works together to make the most good in the world.

You saying “up and up” and new to bending the rules just makes me think of Curry’s desk…

Yes. [Laughs] Curry’s very particular.

Ice T as Sgt. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola — 'Law & Order: SVU' Season 25 Premiere

Scott Gries/NBC

Then there’s the transition for her to work with this new squad and how they’re going to be working together and whether they’ll be receptive to her.

Absolutely. Fin definitely puts me through the wringer in some upcoming episodes, which is a lot of fun, but it’s all coming from this place of ultimately wanting to do the most good. And Fin is definitely, I would say, the most wary of Curry and where she is. That’s how it is when you join any new squad, right? You’re always going to be wondering, where do people stand? Are they truly an outsider? Are they in, are they out? Ultimately, it’s a lot of fun.

So how is Curry going to win Fin over?

I’m curious how the writers are going to address that. There are some things that happen later. I think Fin will eventually take Curry under his wing because Fin and Benson are very different in how they approach their work. And I think Curry is in this nice middle ground where she can learn from both of them. I think what’ll end up happening is I’ll probably get a couple of lessons from Fin and see how he operates and how he thinks, and hopefully that will ingratiate him to my side of the world or let me into his life and his squad.

Going back to Curry and Benson, I love that dynamic and the end of the last episode. But now that Curry is over at SVU, what is that dynamic like? Because it is two captains in the same squad, but it is Benson’s squad.

Yeah, I think it really is all about the team effort. I think Curry proves that, right? Also working at IAB was a very solo job, and I think I even said in the previous episode, I’m used to people not liking me. I’m used to kind of hunkering down in my office and being by myself. I think there’s a little bit more freedom from Curry. I get to be a little bit more of myself. I get the impression that at least Benson is on my side and enjoys my company and enjoys the way that I think, and so that’s exciting. It’s a partnership that I think Curry didn’t really have the space to explore before. I think when you’re at IAB, you have to be a little bit closed off. You have to put on a certain demeanor. And with SVU and the squad, I really get to be more of myself and show more of my personality. I think Benson really enjoys that. I think she enjoys having a smart, tough woman on her side ready to just battle these new cases together.

This week’s episode brings the focus back to Maddie’s case. What can you preview?

There are a couple of surprises that are going to happen. We get this cryptic note related to Maddie’s case, and that really sends Benson and the rest of the squad on a tear, and we uncover some really great clues and we figure some things out. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, but I think you’ll see the case kind of wrapped up neatly.

What else is coming up? Is there anything especially challenging or personal for Curry that we’ll see?

Yeah, I think you’ll see definitely some personal challenges and struggles related to what I said before. This is all new, so I’m not used to dealing with cases in this manner, and so there’s a learning curve that Curry goes through. You’ll definitely see me learn how things work at SVU in a really interesting and kind of fun way for the SVU audience. I don’t think folks are used to maybe seeing someone who’s so new with dealing with these cases. I think the audience will relate to Curry because, I mean, my God, how do these detectives deal with this kind of material day in and day out?

What’s the number one thing that Curry is so used to doing in IAB that she really has to let go of moving to SVU?

I think because Curry is used to being a captain and  the one to give out the orders and make sure things go a certain way, she has to relinquish a little bit of control, which is difficult for her because as you brought up with the desk, everything has a place, and in my mind, everything is supposed to go a certain way. And I think that’s going to be a little bit part of that learning curve of, okay, how do I take the back seat? How do I really observe first and then come up with a plan with the rest of the squad? Because again, she’s not used to really working with a squad. She’s a solo performer in a lot of ways. So it’s going to be interesting to see how she maybe takes her clues from Fin and from Benson and from the rest of the squad and just how other people think about things.

Does she look at crime scenes differently?

Oh, absolutely. Curry is very analytical, and she is someone that thinks first about what’s the opportunity for folks who are out there trying to game the system. So she thinks about it from that perspective. And I think what Curry is learning is you have to kind of switch the angle on the case. You have to think about it more from the victim’s perspective and their lens and then work your way outwards. So yes, it is a different way to crack open a case, but that’s also what’s so exciting. And I think it’s why Curry wants to stay because she’s learning at the same time. So it’s really great.

Speaking of wanting to stay, do you know how many episodes we’re going to see you in this season?

I unfortunately can’t divulge that information, but you will see me in a lot more coming up.

This squad, they’re in each other’s lives off the clock. Is Curry going to be opening up about who she is off the clock, or is that something that she’s going to be struggling with doing?

I think especially because she’s being a little bit more of herself, for sure. You’re definitely going to see another side of her that we haven’t been able to see in previous episodes. And I think that it fits in with the character, right? It’s a little bit of a struggle to show all of who I am, but I think I crave it because I’ve been alone for so long.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC

Originally published here.

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