Chris McMullin, a detective with the Bensalem Police Criminal Investigations Division, never intended to be an actor. But a little over 20 years ago, he fell in love with being on camera.
“It’s actually [director of public safety] Fred Harran’s fault,” McMullin told The Times. “Around 1998, the Bucks County DA’s office and the Network of Victim Assistance, they were putting together some training videos, how to properly testify in court, how to investigate crimes. They hired a production company and actors, but they wanted some real cops to play the police parts.”
Harran asked McMullin, who was 28 at the time, if he’d be interested.
“For a couple days, instead of going to work, I got to go to a film set. I was really hooked by it,” said McMullin. “The director encouraged me to pursue it. I started taking acting lessons, got headshots. I’ve been at it ever since.”
Over the years, McMullin’s IMDB page has steadily grown. He briefly appeared in the 2011 film Limitless starring Bradley Cooper as well as Apple TV’s Servant.
Now, at 51, McMullin landed a role on one of his all-time favorite shows – the popular crime drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
On Thursday, April 8, at 9 p.m. on NBC, viewers will see the Bensalem detective portray a FDNY captain on season 22, episode 10, which is entitled “Welcome to the Pedo Motel.”
For McMullin, being able to add Law & Order to his resume has been a year in the making. After a successful audition in February 2020, production shut down indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When COVID canceled it, there was talk that maybe they were going to rewrite all of their episodes to make them COVID-oriented. I had always wanted to be on Law & Order since I started acting around 2000, 2001, and I joined SAG in 2003,” he said. “It was always a goal. I was so close and then COVID hit. So, I was really happy when I got the call that it was still on.”
On the heels of playing back-to-back cop characters, embracing his inner fireman was a nice change of pace.
“In a perfect world, I’d like to try some other stuff like playing a lawyer, playing a victim, playing a bad guy,” said McMullin. “I’m gonna sound like a total nerd when I say this but I would love to be on Cobra Kai, although I’m never going to get a shot at it. That channels my inner 1980s nerd teenager.”
Despite McMullin’s Law & Order appearance consisting of two scenes and two lines, it required him to travel to New York by train several times in one week. In addition to filming in Manhattan and Brooklyn, he was tasked with heading up three days prior for a COVID test.
“It was a lot of running back and forth, but you’ve got to be in it to win,” he said.
Since McMullin’s detective duties take precedence, there are some auditions and gigs he’s forced to pass on.
“It’s tough. I might get a call at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, ‘Can you be in New York tomorrow at 9 a.m. for an audition?’ And I may have court that day and I can’t get out of it. It’s very random and there’s a lot of variables and luck to whether or not I can make it work,” he said. “I was really determined to make this work when they said it was back on again.”
Being part of Law & Order is a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity, but McMullin wanted the job for a sentimental reason as well.
“Law & Order was my grandmother’s favorite show,” he said. “Unfortunately, she’s no longer with us to see it, but she used to watch it religiously. I always wanted to be on it while she was still here.”
Currently on the verge of retirement, McMullin hopes he can pursue acting on a more regular basis in the near future.
“I don’t have any expectations that I would ever be an A-list superstar. I just want to work. I want to be a working actor,” he explained, adding that he even has some ideas for a screenplay. “In the meantime, I’m just going to keep at it and when I’m lucky enough to book a role, I’ll make the most out of it. It’s fun. It’s a good distraction.”
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org