Ever the provocateur, no one upends expectations quite like John Waters. The Prince of Filth, the Doyenne of Depravity, the Master of the Macabre, Waters will be lending his acting talents to the folks over at TV’s longest-running primetime drama, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” Over the years, the NBC franchise has developed as many a rabid devotee as Waters himself, so this special guest spot seems like a match made in heaven. Calling himself a good SAG member, Waters was tight-lipped about the episode, which airs March 26 on NBC. He did reveal that he plays a pornographer — which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
“I play a pornographer so I am definitely typecast,” the filmmaker said by phone. “But I love doing these shows that people don’t expect me to do. I was on ‘The Blacklist,’ I did ‘My Name Is Earl.’ I always say yes, especially to big hit shows that I know people will love and don’t expect to see me in.”
While admittedly not a buff of the show by any means, Waters was familiar with “SVU.” Fans will be delighted to learn that series star and executive producer Mariska Hargitay stopped by to pay her respects. “She was absolutely lovely. She’s not in the scene I’m in, but she came and she was really, really sweet. She talked about how ‘Hairspray’ had moved her family so much, so I think that probably had a lot to do with me being in it,” Waters said.
Waters is only in one scene of the episode, which is set amongst a theater company preparing to open a new show. For Waters’ part, he was just relieved he remembered his lines: “I’m much better at remembering lines that I’ve written than other people’s.”
Best known as a filmmaker, Waters dabbles in acting from time to time, much to the delight of his legions of fans. There is one major concern he has when it comes to acting: The costumes.
“Let’s put it this way: The outfit that I wear is appropriate and certainly something I would never wear in real life,” said Waters. “That’s always a problem. When I have been in other shows and they dress you as a character. Like one show I did I had to wear a bowtie and be preppy, and that picture ends up online like as if you wore that outfit out, which is mortifying.”
That’s a legitimate concern for someone with such a distinctive person style, especially seeing as there is nowhere to see and be seen for the foreseeable future. The Provincetown Film Festival, at which Waters is a regular presence and organizing figure, recently announced it was postponed until next year. At the time of our interview, Waters was preparing for a meeting about the future of The Maryland Film Festival, where he sits on the Board of Directors.
For now, he is keeping himself busy the same way all cinephiles are: Watching movies and TV. So what’s on John Waters’ quarantine viewing list?
“David Simon’s new thing, I watched both episodes of that, ‘The Plot Against America.’ I’ve been watching ‘Chernobyl,’ ’cause I missed it. I watched, of course, ‘The Hunt,’ which I had a great time with, and I actually think that could bring us together. I could watch that with a Trump supporter and I think we’d both laugh.”
The John Waters episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” airs on NBC Thursday, March 26 at 10 p.m. Eastern.