ADA Sonya Paxton (Christine Lahti) is back on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and she’s fresh out of alcohol rehab.
But just because she’s clean and sober now, don’t expect Sonya to be a pussycat. If anything, she’s as unchecked as ever, Lahti tells HollywoodOutbreak.com.
“In fact, as much as she tried to be this kind of Zen, you know, completely rehabilitated, healthy, stable person, she can’t help being who she is,” the actress states.
Portraying Paxton is an actor’s dream to be sure – and from what we hear from the actress, tonight’s episode won’t be the last we’ll see of the caustic assistant D.A.
“I guess they’re writing a couple more (episodes) to keep her coming back,” Lahti acknowledges. “I wasn’t surprised because really last season when those episodes were airing everywhere I went people came up to me and said how much they hate me. And I thought, ‘Ooh, that must be striking a chord.’
“They’d say, ‘Oh, we hate your character so much,’ or ‘We love that you’re so mean to Stabler (Christopher Meloni). We’ve been waiting for someone to stand up to him.’ So, it struck a huge chord.”
And ADA Paxton is set to stir up more trouble after she’s called in to prosecute a date rape case that took place on a college campus.
“She get derailed a few times,” Lahti points out. “It’s a really important episode because apparently the sad stats show that one in four girls on college campuses can expect to be raped and 70-percent of the time it’s with guys they know. Alcohol is often involved. Girls are getting drunk and waking up and finding themselves being raped by two or three guys and the saddest part of all is that these crimes are not being reported to the police.”
Why do the students keep quiet? Lahti tells us the college disciplinary committees tend to sweep the dirt under the rug.
“Often these rapists are getting off Scott free and not being arrested and put in jail,” she says. “And often the girls aren’t reporting the rapes. It’s really a problem and this episode really deals with it, I think, very bravely.”
And Lahti will, naturally, be at the center of the action as part of her probationary status, after showing up loaded for court during last season’s story arc. Which means detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Meloni) will be working with her once more…someone they could clearly do without seeing again.
“They’re not that happy to see me, especially Stabler,” she laughs. “When I walk in he goes, ‘Oh God” and walks out of the room.”
Lahti admits that coming into the well-established show last season was daunting. But this time around she was more comfortable and felt the enthusiasm for her when she returned to the role, which kicks off 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.