Two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest is joining the cast of NBC’s “Law & Order” as the Dick Wolf-produced legal drama prepares to enter its 11th season.
Wiest, who snagged supporting actress Oscars for her roles in Woody Allen pics “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway,” will play the Studios USA-produced show’s new district attorney. Steven Hill, who had portrayed D.A. Adam Schiff since the show’s 1990 debut, is ankling the skein.
Hill had been the lone survivor of the first season “Law & Order” cast.
Wolf said there was a “very short list of people” under consideration to replace Hill on the series.
“I thought to make this kind of switch, we needed someone with a lot of bang,” Wolf said. “The first woman at the top of the list was Dianne. Quite luckily she was intrigued. Not in your wildest imagination could you pick up not only a single but a double-Oscar winner.”
Given “Law & Order’s” pedigree as a Gotham-centric series, Wolf said he was interested in Wiest partly because of her roles in a number of Allen’s projects.
‘The fabric of New York’
“I think in a strange way there is a similarity between ‘Law & Order’ and Woody’s movies in terms of them being so a part of the fabric of New York,” Wolf said.
As for Hill’s departure, Wolf cited “Law & Order’s” “killing schedule.”
“He does not live in the city,” Wolf noted. “It can become wearisome.”
Hill’s leaving is “definitely bittersweet,” Wolf said. He called the actor one of the “rocks” of “Law & Order.”
Wiest’s D.A. will not be a carbon copy of Hill’s Schiff.
“If you’re going to replace a character you have to come up with a vastly different rhythm than someone who’s been on the show 10 years and an icon like Steven,” Wolf said. “When you have to make that change, you want to make it with someone as bulletproof as you can possibly get and at the same time very different.”
Continuing film career
Wolf said Wiest will continue to pursue film projects.
“One of the things she realized was no one would look at this like she sold out to TV,” he said.
In addition to her Oscar statuettes, Wiest has also taken home an Emmy (guest actress in a drama, “The Road to Avonlea”) and a Golden Globe (“Bullets Over Broadway”).
Wiest’s collaborations with Allen also include appearances in “Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Radio Days” and “September.” She was nominated for an Oscar for “Parenthood.”
Other credits include “The Horse Whisperer,” “The Birdcage,” “Independence Day,” “Footloose” and “Practical Magic.”