Ryan Buggle may currently be best known for his portrayal of Noah on Law & Order: SVU, but we’d be willing to bet there’s a lot more to come. Recently, we had the chance to talk with him about everything from the BX9 arc, to that one “killer” line about Noah’s real family, taking a stand against bullies, and much more. And while we always knew he was multi-talented, both managing to land himself the gig opposite Mariska Hargitay and having been a part of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular back in 2017, learning he can do even more was a real treat.
For anyone wondering, yes, Buggle understands he’s a part of something huge. But he’s incredibly humble about it. “I think it’s so special. Like, I don’t think I’m special…But then I remember how important the show it is, and I’m just so excited to be a part of it.” Which, for the record, he is special and shouldn’t forget that (easier advice to give than take) — and we hope you’ll all see that, too. Rather than spend too much describing the conversation, though, we’ll just dive right in.
(Note: This conversation has been edited into thematic bits to provide you with more clarity.)
Buggle on what it’s like working on Law & Order: SVU
Even when the subject matter is what it is, playing Olivia Benson’s son is still kind of a big deal. So, I asked what that’s like, in terms of the working relationship with Hargitay, whom Buggle has often described as his second mom in interviews. (And mentioned in this conversation, as well.) “I think it stays pretty fun because I’ve known Mariska for almost half of my life, and whatever we act is like…just, like natural,” he said. And sometimes, it’s even “just like improv.”
Given that description, what’s an improv moment that he’s particularly proud of? “That ‘Mom!’ scream” was “a lot” of improv. And even Hargitay “was like, ‘oh my gosh! I’ve never heard him scream that loud!’ She was kind of scared, too.” So, where did all that intensity even come from? “Well, I actually like to use my real life a lot of the time. So, when I was screaming, I actually thought it was my mom—I was pretending that it was my mom. And Mariska is like my second mom, so I can just act like that, too.” Yes, Buggle makes it sound that easy. And yes, we’re pretty impressed by it.
We also had to ask a little bit about the “real family” line that sparked a lot of fandom debate because it was so upsetting to hear at the time. Ryan told us — while miming the reaction, no less — that Hargitay reacted like “she was saying she got stabbed in the heart.” (Same, actually.) But, to go back to the earlier point, the real-life relationship remains as strong as ever. Describing chemistry that was basically “instant” during the audition process, Buggle said it’s “so good, and that’s all [Hargitay]. She is so good with random people…doesn’t stop to think about it. When I was little, she came up to me one-on-one during our chemistry read…we were really good, and that started this relationship.”
Of course, Hargitay isn’t the only actor that Buggle spends a lot of time with on set. As it turns out, he plays a lot of Mario Kart with none other than Ice T (fanfic writers and readers, y’all won). And Ice shows no mercy: “He’s actually kinda good — maybe crushes me all the time.” Does he ever let Ryan win? “No. He’s really good at Mario Kart. I don’t know how.” The friendly, if tough, competition is just part of the picture, though. Buggle called the recent Walk of Fame star recipient “the chillest guy ever,” noting “it’s so cool acting with him because no one else is like Ice T. He just has his own personality.”
Oh. And a highlight? “When I was in the police car with him, that was probably the best moment of my life—it was so cool.”
Asked about an Instagram post where it looked like he was doing some work with Ice helping out, Ryan had a good laugh. (Which, side note: If it’s not mentioned anywhere else in this post, this guy has a great laugh.) But, no, Ice T hasn’t landed himself a side gig as a homework helper. He and Buggle “were just doing something funny like that. Mariska took those photos.” And, for another fun fact, our leading lady takes “so many photos. It’s crazy. She has over, like, five hundred thousand photos.”
“He would want to be leader, and he would want to protect his mom.”
In seasons 23 and 24, Noah has had experienced some pretty big moments. Last year, following a fairly disturbing bullying scene, he came out to his mom as bi. This season, he witnessed BX9 attacking Olivia and had to be sent away. That meant having to spend an extended period of time at his recently-discovered half-brother’s house in the suburbs. As if that wasn’t enough change for a preteen to experience, it was Liv’s former partner, Elliot — who, as far as we know, Noah had really only met once before this. Insert something about taking that scene from my cold, dead hands here — who drove two hours both ways to bring him home.
So, what was playing all that like for Buggle? And where does he want Noah’s story to go from here?
“I’m hoping that Noah becomes a strong leader like his mom,” he said. “I think that it would be really cool if they did that. And maybe when he’s older, maybe [he could] be in the business a little bit.” As most conversations naturally do, we circled back to this point later in our conversation—more than once, actually. At one point, I wondered if, as a way of preparing for taking on that leadership role, Noah could maybe spend some more time at the office with Captain Benson. Or what about even just talking through everything he’s witnessed so far with her?
While neither of those options are necessarily off the table, Buggle had some ideas that might be more adjacent to Mama Liv’s business than actually in it: “I’m not sure it’s going to be police work,” he clarified, adding, “I can see him going into nonprofit working for great charities.” As far as specific charities go, he’s down for anything and everything. No, really. When I asked which causes he might want Noah to work for, Ryan was like, “all of them.” Which, honestly, that works. Can confirm that literally all of the charities need good people to help out.
Maybe, though, Noah’s already on a specific path. In the actor’s own words, Noah “wasn’t a bystander” when others were being bullied. And “he stood up for himself” during that time, too. Because of this, Buggle sees the character as “an inspiration for all kids his age” and confessed that, as an actor stepping into Noah’s shoes, “the coming out was easy. I got some mean comments, but honestly…Everyone was so nice about it. The reaction was so overwhelming.”
So, hear me out. Now, that we’re thinking about it, an anti-bullying campaign would be a great place to start. That, and/or advocating for fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community, actually. Maybe even an organization that combines both? Because, as a bottom line from Buggle — both of us, really, but he deserves all the credit for this quote: “I think bullying is wrong.” Period.
“I just want to say that dance is for everyone—no matter what your gender is.“
Unfortunately, bullying isn’t only a problem in the dramatized world of SVU. And it’s not even the only place where Ryan Buggle has experienced it. “I’ve been bullied a couple times, actually,” he confessed. It happened at a school he used to attend, and the reason was about as upsetting as it was far too common. “I was bullied a couple times because I danced,” he told me. This is nothing new — I even asked if Buggle remembered the backlash after a young Prince George was mocked on Good Morning America for doing ballet. He did. — but it doesn’t make it any less upsetting to hear.
Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t know me: I, too, dance. And I can attest to how physically and mentally tough you have to be for ballet in particular, especially at any kind of halfway passing level.
Actually, I suppose this is where we go into the full disclosure part of the feature: I actually opened the interview by saying my first question wasn’t even about the show — I just wanted to know how dance was going. Ryan’s answer? “It’s great. I’m—I love dance so much. Crushing it.”
Now, this obviously has natural ties to the series and wasn’t just a throwaway question from one dance lover to another. And, given that Noah’s first dance class was such a big moment for the character, it had to be asked: Since Noah always seems to be at a sleepover, has Ryan ever considered suggesting he could actually be at a dance competition instead? He was open to the idea, answering, “yeah. I think it would be really fun to do, like, a ballet dance recital and have a bunch of my friends be in the recital with me. And we would all have this big dance production, which would be really fun.”
Noah’s very busy social calendar aside, though, acting and dancing really do go hand in hand. In the first place, as Buggle put it, “you tell a big story with dancing just as much as acting.” There’s also a certain…something about how acting can sometimes be a dance, and dancing involves an act. Because it doesn’t quite lend itself to words, we both kind of talked around that special something without really naming it. But one thing’s for certain: Emotion is a huge part of both arts. “They’re both…different,” Ryan told me. “But, at the same time, they’re kind of alike because you can dance with you your heart, and you can also act with your heart.”
He gets it.
Is Ryan Buggle our next action hero?
No, we’re not leaving the dance part of this behind completely — not yet. And, sorry…not sorry.
When I asked Ryan if there’s anyone specific, either related to dance or acting, he’d like to work with one day, he hit me with a great combination of both worlds. “I definitely would want to work with Tom Holland. I know I’ve said that a lot…But he is literally my idol. I’d be so excited if I got to film a scene with him. Just like one little scene. He’s just the coolest guy.” (And, for the record, Mr. Buggle does know the internet rules around the “Umbrella” video. I made sure to ask. For science.)
Now, one way to do a scene with
Spiderman Holland would be to get into the superhero business. Which brings us back to the dance background of it all, seeing as how those films tend to involve stunt sequences, and fight choreography is just that — choreography. So, would Buggle want to do stunts one day? “I would definitely want to be a stunt man when I grow up,” he told me. But don’t call Marvel just yet because as he put it, “I don’t know if my mom would be too happy with that, though.”
From a stunt standpoint, he’d particularly love to do would be motorcycle scenes. And we know just the guy who’s done those. Recently, in fact: Law & Order: Organized Crime star, Christopher Meloni. Also related to Meloni, there’s the matter of a lingering social media challenge to a split contest. When I asked if he’d ever managed to battle it out with Meloni, Buggle answered “not yet, but I really want to do it.” And, while “it’s amazing what he can do,” Ryan thinks he can beat him.
And where does Meloni’s Stabler fit into Team Benson?
So, what’s it like when Meloni comes to set or when Buggle gets to pop over to the Organized Crime set for some action? “It’s more fun. [Meloni’s] very funny, and Mariska and him act so well together. It’s so cool to really see them act together. I just, like, pinched myself knowing I get to be a part of scenes with them.” He was also “really excited” about the Mother’s Day scene last season, calling it “a crazy day” with so much paparazzi…on the streets across from us.”
It was at this point that he also mentioned he “love[s] meeting people, and Mariska is really good about it, too. She takes time to stop and take pictures with everyone.” But, then, there’s also the bizarre aspect of shooting outside in NYC: “People walk into the scenes, and it’s really funny. They just walk in the middle of the scenes.”
But back to the former partner of it all. What’s that relationship going to be like, especially with Noah possibly wanting to be more protective of his mom after the BX9 incident? “I’m excited to see what happens with that, but I can’t really say that much.”
There is, however, this little tidbit: “Funny thing: Everyone always calls me Noah Benson-Stabler.” And maybe someone might’ve filled him in on
whose fault that is who he can thank for that name being so popular. Something about Benson and Stabler prayer candles and a certain star throwing the name out there in an interview…but I’m pleading the Fifth. Laughter may or may not have been involved. But again. Pleading the Fifth.
As far as the future goes, though, “I think we all want to see Elliot and Noah.” Those “would be some good episodes.” Couldn’t agree more.
Just for fun
Team Benson recently moved. So, it’s probably safe to assume Noah’s room is totally different than his last one. Buggle hasn’t seen that set yet, so I asked what he’d put in there if he could design it. After some thought, he decided “video games. I would put all the video games in there…Like, a video games heaven. I would put a really big flat screen in there, too, so I could just play.” Mario Kart’s an obvious pick; Fortnite and Fall Guys are also on the must-have list.
And, no big deal, but there should also be a chess set. “I’m pretty good at chess,” Buggle told me. And he’s also “really into Rubik’s cubes right now.” He currently has a 42-second record. Once, when they were timing each other, he got “the exact same time” as Hargitay’s son August, who he notes is “really fast.”
So, if he’s not acting, dancing, playing video games, playing chess, or trying to get that Rubik’s cube time even better, someone should absolutely ask Ryan to design Noah’s room. He’s already got the essentials down. Then again, he might be busy with any of the above or even doing gymnastics, which he’s also “really into right now” and “getting there” after starting about four months ago. (At this point, someone might have shamelessly plugged two of her favorite floor exercise workers in women’s NCAA gymnastics — Derrian Gobourne of Auburn and Amari Celestine of Missouri — but that person may or may not also be the one pleasing the Fifth above…)
So, as a bottom line?
“Noah is going to continue to grow and find who he is. And keep watching.”
We’re going to say the same for Ryan Buggle.