Law & Order: SVU actress Diane Neal will show a lighter side in new Hallmark movie The Magic Moment. / Larsen & Talbert
"I never get to be funny on TV," complains Diane Neal, best known as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit assistant district attorney Casey Novak. "I've been a stand-up comedian for years, and I can be silly. People think I'm a lawyer, but I'm a lot different. Legal dialogue is awesome, but you can't adlib. It's much more fun to be looser and say things like, 'Can I work in a Han Solo reference?' I'm a 'Star Wars' freak." The Magic Moment, which airs Aug. 17 on the Hallmark Movie Channel, lets Neal, 37, show a little more lightness (though her blond mane is missing). She plays a movie star who asks a video-store owner to pretend to romance her.
Despite this "romantic, fun, delightful romp," Neal’s still thinking of her legal alter ego. "When I got Law & Order, my dad [an attorney] took me to a bookstore and bought me every criminal law book in the universe. In New York, I researched real SVU cases and learned it's always heartbreaking,” she says. "My favorite thing about Novak is that all she cared about was doing the right thing. The vast majority of ADAs put everything on the line to make sure justice is served. That's what I love about prosecutors and the New York police."