Christopher Meloni is an American actor best known for his roles as the protective and committed Detective Elliot Stabler on the drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and as the bisexual serial killer Chris Keller on the prison drama Oz.
Meloni is the surname of the Italian family who adopted his paternal grandfather (who may not have been born of Italian heritage). He is of French Canadian ancestry on his mother's side.
Originally from Washington D.C., he attended St. Stephen's School (now St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School) and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he first studied acting, graduating with a degree in history in 1983.
After graduation, Meloni went to New York where he continued his studies with Sanford Meisner at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse.
Meloni and his wife Doris Sherman Williams (a production designer) keep residences in New York, Los Angeles and Connecticut. They have two children via surrogate mother: daughter Sophia Eva Pietra (b. March 23, 2001), and son Dante Amadeo (b. January 2, 2004).
Meloni worked as a construction worker prior to getting his acting break. He has also worked as a bouncer, bartender, and personal trainer.
Meloni worked his way up the acting ladder with short-lived TV series and bit parts in a number of films. His first noticeable role was as the hotheaded son of a Mafia Don in the 1996 lesbian thriller Bound.
He also appeared as Robbie's friend Spike in Dinosaurs and Julia Roberts' fiance in Runaway Bride.
His first real moment of stardom came from his controversial role as bisexual sociopath Chris Keller in the HBO prison drama Oz. The role called for him to passionately kiss and touch other men, frequently display rear and full frontal nudity, and even urinate into a bucket.
Meloni's raw magnetism and affable reaction towards the open sexuality of his character earned him press attention and legions of fans, particularly within the gay community.
In 1999, he even jokingly kissed his onscreen partner Lee Tergesen (who played Tobias Beecher, Meloni's on screen boyfriend on OZ) at an awards dinner for GLAAD.
Law & Order producer Dick Wolf, impressed by Meloni's acting abilities, signed him up for Special Victims Unit in 1999, where he has remained ever since. From 1999 to 2003, he appeared on both shows simultaneously.
He returned to his comedic roots when he portrayed the character "Gene" in Wet Hot American Summer in 2001, and the character of "Freakshow" (albeit in heavy make-up) in the 2004 comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
On July 6, 2006, Meloni was nominated for his first Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for his role as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.