There was both happy and sad news for fans of NBC’s hit television crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on Friday, March 29.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, the series was renewed for a record-breaking 21st season, making it the longest-running primetime live-action show in TV history.
“This incredible run is an example of what happens when producers, writers, and actors all come together and create a show that, year after year, speaks to its audience in a powerful way. We couldn’t be more proud of this remarkable achievement,” said a statement from NBC’s co-chairmen, Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks.
However, when Season 21 begins in late 2019, it will air without actor Philip Winchester, who has been portraying Assistant District Attorney Peter Stone since Season 19. The 38-year-old revealed the shocking news in two separate Twitter posts.
“I want to congratulate the cast and crew of [Law & Order: SVU] for making history today. Also [want] to thank everyone for two great seasons. I have learned much and enjoyed being part of an elite unit. Here’s to you all and a historic run,” Winchester wrote in one tweet.
In his second Twitter note, he clarified that Peter Stone “and his ‘the facts don’t care about [your] feelings’ attitude” would not be moving forward with the series. He also thanked SVU’s fans, who he said made him “work harder.”
Winchester originated the Peter Stone character on Chicago P.D. in 2016, and then appeared in the one-season spinoff series Chicago Justice. When he joined SVU in 2018, it was revealed that he was the son of Law & Order’s Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty), who was also an attorney. It has not yet been revealed how Peter will be written out of the show.
Deadline‘s sources said that no other major casting changes are expected for Season 21 of SVU, which currently stars Mariska Hargitay (Lieutenant Olivia Benson), Ice-T (Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola), Kelli Giddish (Detective Amanda Rollins), and Peter Scanavino (Detective Sonny Carisi).
Winchester, who is half-British and half-American, studied at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has been acting professionally since the late 1990s and has had leading roles in TV series such as Crusoe, Camelot, Strike Back, and The Player. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Megan Coughlin, since 2008, and they have two daughters together: 4-year-old Charlie and a new baby girl born in February.
Law & Order: SVU returns to NBC on Thursday, April 4, at 10 p.m.