Exclusive: Raúl Esparza Talks 'Law & Order: SVU,' Broadway, & Fame

The theatre-trained Cuban American actor dishes on tonight’s intense Law & Order: SVU episode, “October Surprise.”

Tell us about tonight’s episode.

For me it’s an episode that has to do with loyalty and trust and the past that binds and history that shapes us individuals, and the friends that made my character, ADA Rafael Barba, who he is today. It’s an episode structured on politics and the mayoral campaign for the city of New York and what it would mean to have a Hispanic mayor.

And this is first time the show really goes in depth about Barba’s ethnicity?

We’ve talked about it before. Last season they talked about the neighborhood he came in the Bronx and that he’s Cuban. Although this has to do with being Cuban it also has to do with his past friendships. I also get to practice my Spanish!

Is this episode a sign of more things to come?

Well, I’ve certainly been working my ass off. Being a regular cast member means you get to wake up a hell of a lot earlier and go home a hell of a lot later. He’s a fantastic character I get to explore.

How great is it shooting in New York City?

It’s incredibly magical to shoot in the city. It’s great to walk to work and be surrounded by New Yorkers, who feel ownership of the show, which I love. It feels like you’re a part of the city and the city’s history. Law & Order has come to define the way we look at New York and the way we look at the New York City Police Department.