Christopher Meloni, making his return as Detective Elliot Stabler on “Law & Order: Organized Crime” next week, reveals he had no idea the character meant so much to so many people.

“I have felt nothing but goodwill and anticipation and I am so humbled and shocked by it,” Meloni says during a virtual appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”. “I just had no idea. I didn’t realize the character and the show resonated so deeply with people. It’s very sweet.”

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Meloni co-starred on “Law & Order: SVU” opposite Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T for 12 seasons before leaving the series in 2011 over contract negotiations. Stabler will return on an episode of “SVU” immediately preceding the premiere of “Organized Crime” on April 1. The series will follow Stabler as he returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime following a devastating personal loss.

The actor tells Fallon that though the “SVU” set has changed since he left, it was easy to get back into the swing of things with his friend Hargitay.

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“It’s such a cliché … I got on the stage of the ‘SVU’ set and it has changed. They have different actors and it’s not my house, it’s not my place, so I had no connection. But as soon as I got to act with Mariska, it was like yesterday,” he gushes. “We know each other and mess around socially and all that, but when we got down and cameras were rolling … it was such a seamless, effortless endeavour. It was great.”

The “SVU” stars have been sharing snaps from the set in anticipation of Meloni’s return.

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