When Isabel Gillies left Law & Order: SVU ten years ago the world was a very different place. We lived in a world in which social media was mostly a burgeoning idea, something about to hit the stratosphere, but still in its relative infancy all things considered. And because of that, it wasn’t as easy for fans to shower their opinions (positive or otherwise) on actresses or actors for roles they played.
Well, now a decade later Gillies got a rude awakening to the new realities of obsessives and psychotic fandom when she briefly reprised her Kathy Stabler role on Law & Order: SVU. According to Deadline, it didn’t go well and she had some things to say about it.
Isabel Gillies played Kathy Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for over ten years. In that time, her character had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with her on-screen husband Elliot Stabler, played by Chris Meloni. Their marriage became central to a number of different storylines, and the events of her untimely death actually led to a recent spin-off show. In making this happen, Gillies reprised the character in an episode in order to usher in some of the plot points that would lead to Law & Order: Organized Crime.
In Season 22 of Law & Order: SVU, in an episode titled “Return of the Prodigal Son” Meloni’s Elliot Stabler returns and so did Kathy Stabler. This brought up some issues from their past including parts of their relationship that stopped him from getting together with Olivia Benson (played by Mariska Hargitay).
In the episode, the character of Kathy Stabler was killed in a car bomb, the events of which ushered in Meloni’s return to starring in the spin-off series. Were fans mad about the death of a Law & Order character? Nope. They were filled with vitriol towards the Kathy character and took to Isabel Gillies’s Twitter account to let her know.
In a Substack post, Isabel Gillies describes some of her time on Law & Order: SVU and her respect for folks like Christopher Meloni. She also talks about getting called back to play the Kathy role a decade later only to get blown up. But then, this is where things start to spiral. Gillies describes the not-insignificant amount of hate “mail” she got on social media with fans of the show treating the actress as if she was the real Kathy Stabler. According to Gillies, one of the messages read, “KATHY STABLER IS BURNING IN THE DEEPEST PART OF HELL….YOU DESERVE TO BLOW UP!”
This was just one example. According to Gillies, there were many many more that may have read much, much worse. Again, these reputed Law & Order “fans” were treating the actress as if she were the Stabler character in real life. This is true psycho stuff and ended up reducing the actress to tears. Who could blame her? How can you prepare yourself for such a level of disconnect? It’s crazy and sad. No one should be treated this way, actor or not. And especially not for a character you play.
Isabel Gillies won’t run into this issue going forward with her character seeing as how Stabler is now, you know, dead. And she won’t need to revisit the character either because Gillies says she doesn’t watch Law & Order.