Christopher Peter Meloni (born April 2, 1961) is an American actor known for his near opposite roles as Detective Elliot Stabler on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and as Chris Keller on HBO's Oz.
With his piercing, blue-eyed glint, brawny looks, cocky "tough guy" stance and effortless charisma, Christopher Meloni drew on his sexy Italian heritage to grab TV audiences attention, male and female alike, finding breakthrough stardom playing on both sides of the law. Audiences first were taken in by his stunning portrayal of a sexually arresting, sociopathic killer in the gripping prison drama "Oz" (1997) on cable. Although his TV roots were in 90s situation comedy, the network powers-that-be wisely discovered his power and allure as a dramatic star and quickly handed him his own prime-time crime series, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999), as a not-by-the-book crime detective. This one-two punch of "Oz" and "Law & Order: SVU" put Meloni (who seems to grow sexier even as his hairline recedes) on the map and well on top, where he remains today.
Christopher Peter Meloni was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Robert, an endocriminologist, and Cecile Meloni. Of Italian and French-Canadian parentage, he attended St. Stephen's School and played quarterback for his high school team. Developing an interest in acting rather early in life, he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder following high school graduation. He initially majored in acting but wound up earning a degree in history in 1983. Acting won out in the long run, however, and Chris relocated to New York where he studied with acting guru Sanford Meisner at the renowned Neighborhood Playhouse.
Going on a decade's worth of service to the series that made him a household name, Meloni's TV detective is just as fresh as when the show debuted. Meloni continues to flaunt his humorous side as well, showing up on such parody shows as "Mad TV" and cracking up on the various night time TV haunts. On film he continues to shatter his dramatic image in such fare as Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) and its sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). While he has not found outright stardom on the big screen (he has nominally played "other man" roles in such popular films as Runaway Bride (1999) and Nights in Rodanthe (2008)), Chris has more than proved his staying power. More recently he moved forward as a writer/producer/director/star of the comedy film Dirty Movie (2009), which also has in its cast "L&O: SVU" co-star Diane Neal. In addition, Chris supplied the voice of DC Comics classic character Hal Jordan (aka Green Lantern) in the animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) (V).
He wears a fake tattoo of the United States Marine Corps emblem (the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor) on his arm for his role in SVU (as seen in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 7 episodes, Season 8, Episode 8: "Underbelly" and Season 6, Episode 5: "Outcry".) He has a real tattoo of a butterfly on his upper thigh, and a cubist representation of the crucifixion of Christ tattooed on his upper left arm.