Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Wednesday, February 7, episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
The Law & Order: SVU cast had to say goodbye again: These are their stories. After six seasons, Raúl Esparza’s Rafael Barba exited the NBC courtroom drama on Wednesday, February 7.
“I’ve done six seasons, I felt like it was time to go. I had explored a lot of what I thought Barba was about. I just felt it was time to move on,” Esparza, 47, told Entertainment Weekly. “I was also feeling like the role has changed over the years in a way that has been an interesting experience for me. Again, I’m a theater guy, so it’s like having a script in front of you that keeps changing every time you go to do it. The learning process of how roles grow over a period of time with a series has been kind of fascinating, and I just felt I had reached the end of what I wanted to explore where they were writing.”
SVU has a history of bringing back beloved characters, so it’s definitely possible for Barba to eventually return. “I think that Barba’s become a part of the SVU family, and I think there’s a life for him. I don’t know necessarily, but it’s possible that there’s a life for him as the series goes on,” he revealed. “I’m glad they left that door open.”
“Goodbye Barba. Thank you. You changed my life. My squad. And you, you always, my Liv, my friend Mariska. I will always treasure my time with all of you,” Esparza tweeted following the episode. The cast then took to social media to say their farewells to ADA Rafael Barba.
“One of the great honors of my life is to have shared the screen with the incredible scene partner, beautiful friend, giant heart, brilliant artist, kindest of men @RaulEEsparza,” Mariska Hargitay wrote on Twitter, sharing a photo. “#SVU has been graced and great with you in it. Family always gets to come home … come home soon.”
One of the great honors of my life is to have shared the screen with the incredible scene partner, beautiful friend, giant heart, brilliant artist, kindest of men @RaulEEsparza. #SVU has been graced and great with you in it. Family always gets to come home… come home soon. pic.twitter.com/X5TUsdYzwI
— Mariska Hargitay (@Mariska) February 8, 2018
Other members of the cast and crew also took to social media to share their messages to Esparza.
SVU writer Celine Robinson admitted she was crying in a tweet.
They dont get much more talented or genius than @RaulEEsparza, thats for sure.
It doesnt get much more fun or thrilling than writing for that guy, aint that the truth.
U cant meet a much more whimsical or intelligent fella than this fella, Ill tell ya that.
Me? Crying? Ur crying.
— Céline Robinson (@svuceline) February 8, 2018
Philip Winchester, whose character Peter Stone replaced Barba as ADA, also tweeted a thank you to the actor.
@RaulEEsparza Thank you for welcoming me with open arms, for having such integrity and for showing me the ropes.
— Philip Winchester (@philipwinchestr) February 8, 2018
Warren Leight, whose was an executive producer on the show from 2011 to 2016, as well as writer Julie Martin, shared sweet memories.
I love writing for @RaulEEsparza — no sentence, thought, cadence or scene beyond his ability. For years, my secret challenge was to try to write something he couldn't deliver. I never did. Le deseo toda clase de éxitos en sus esfuerzos.
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) February 8, 2018
— Julie Martin (@JulieMartinSVU) February 8, 2018
Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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