“Look, I’m guilty of murder here, so I’m not going to make any excuses,” Ludacris starts. “I stabbed her with my knife, and then I killed her baby. … I dug a hole and buried them, and there’s where they’ve been for the last three years. Should I write it down now?”
His confession is so cold, so matter-of-fact, you might get chills — which is why Ludacris says his upcoming role in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is “probably the best thing I’ve done.”
Though he’s already acted in films such as “Crash” and “Hustle & Flow,” Luda says he loves this stint on the small screen because of the speed and efficiency of TV shoots and the plot twists inherent in the “Law & Order” franchise. “Man, I’ve been a fan of ’Law & Order’ for a long time,” he said. “That’s why I tried to reach out and see if I could get a part somewhere on the show.”
Most “Law & Order” plots are famously ripped from the current headlines, but the role the writer penned for Luda was based on a crime that happened more than a decade ago: Texas vs. Cobb, which was argued in front of the Supreme Court in 2001. “I ran across a story where a young man had killed a woman, taken her body and buried it in the woods, and no one had ever suspected him,” writer Judith McCreary said.
In the original case, Raymond Levi Cobb burglarized the home of Lindsey and Margaret Owings in Walker County, Texas, in December 1993. Afterward, Lindsey Owings reported his wife and 16-month-old daughter missing, but Cobb claimed no knowledge of their disappearance — until November 1995, when he confessed to his father that he had killed them in the course of the burglary. He said Margaret had confronted him, he stabbed her in the stomach, and while he was digging her grave, the baby woke up.
“This man claimed that the baby just fell into the grave, and he left it there,” McCreary said. “And he walked around … with a cloud over his head because of this.”
Lawyers argued to throw out the confession because Cobb had already been indicted for the burglary. In the hands of “Law & Order” writers, the story develops even more “mean turns,” Luda said, since the criminal in question is the nephew of Ice-T’s character, Detective Finn. Finn has to confront his estranged son and ex-wife to uncover the family secret. “This is like a ’Jerry Springer’ [episode]; my family couldn’t be more messed up,” T said.
When Luda’s confession gets thrown out, and he refuses a plea bargain, that’s when things start to get interesting. “Go to hell, kiss my ass, and while you’re down there, spread ’em,” Luda’s character tells Finn. “You’re all going to have to testify, your lives out in the open for everyone to judge. They’re going to know what kind of cop you are, and what kind of father and husband you weren’t.”
“The way I fit in, you get to understand this man’s life, what he’s been through and why he’s made the decisions that he’s made,” Ludacris said. “It’s really interesting, the motive behind the actions he takes.”
“What’s cool is the cop dilemma versus the family dilemma,” T said. “I’m a cop, but I don’t trust the law. For Finn to be on the fence is really cool. As a cop, I’ve probably seen a lot of people who did do it get off, with the right defense.”
Luda, who name-checks T in “Number One Spot,” said it was a pleasure finally meeting his idol. “He’s real lighthearted, real humble,” he said.
The admiration goes both ways. “We’re happy to have him on the show,” T said. “He got his sh– together, he got his chops. And more people are excited for Luda than any of the so-called big names who’ve guest-starred before. That’s fly to me.”
The episode airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC.