For six seasons, Raul Esparza has portrayed assistant district attorney Rafael Barba on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, and fans bade farewell to the character and the actor who plays him during Wednesday night’s episode.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Esparza, 47, confirmed he was leaving the long-running procedural crime drama.
“I’ve done six seasons, I felt like it was time to go,” he tells EW. “I had explored a lot of what I thought Barba was about. I just felt it was time to move on. I was also feeling like the role has changed over the years in a way that has been an interesting experience for me. Again, I’m a theatre guy, so it’s like having a script in front of you that keeps changing every time you go to do it. The learning process of how roles grow over a period of time with a series has been kind of fascinating, and I just felt I had reached the end of what I wanted to explore where they were writing.”
As “L&O” fans have come to learn, the show has something of an open-door policy for cast members who depart, and Esparza said he wouldn’t be averse to returning in some capacity in the future.
“Absolutely, because I’m really rooting for the opportunity to make television history with the series,” he says. “Also, this doesn’t always happen when you work with people, but I became friends with Mariska [Hargitay] and she’s part of my life now. I don’t just miss the role, I miss her, so any opportunity to get back into a room with her is valuable to me.”
“It has truly been an honour writing for Raul,” ‘SVU’ showrunner Michael Chernuchin told EW. “The power, sensitivity, and morality he brought to the character of Rafael Barba never failed to elevate our scripts. Raul is family and we look forward to seeing his talent shine in new projects. As for Barba, ‘SVU’ fans may see him again soon.”
Esparza said so long to his “SVU” character on Twitter, admitting the role “changed my life.”