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Christopher Peter Meloni was born April 2, 1961 and is an American actor known for his near opposite roles as Detective Elliot Stabler on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and as Chris Keller on HBO's Oz.
Meloni was born the youngest of three children in Washington, D.C., the son of Cecile, a homemaker, and Robert Meloni, an endocrinologist. His maternal ancestry is French Canadian and his paternal ancestry is Italian. Meloni is a typical and widely diffused Sardinian surname. He attended St. Stephen's School (now St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School) and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he first studied acting, graduating with a degree in history in 1983. After graduation, Meloni went to New York where he continued his studies with Sanford Meisner at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse.
Meloni worked as a construction worker prior to getting his acting break. He has also worked as a bouncer, bartender, and personal trainer. Meloni worked his way up the acting ladder with commercials, short-lived TV series, and bit parts in a number of films. His first noticeable role was as the hotheaded son of a Mafia Don in the 1996 thriller Bound. He also appeared as Robbie Sinclair's friend Spike in Dinosaurs and Julia Roberts' fiance in Runaway Bride.
From 1998-2003, Meloni portrayed bisexual serial killer Chris Keller on the HBO series Oz; the role won him a great deal of media attention, particularly within the gay community, in which he is considered a sex symbol. In 1999, he even jokingly kissed his onscreen partner Lee Tergesen (who played Tobias Beecher, Meloni's on screen boyfriend on Oz) at an awards dinner for GLAAD.
L&O producer Dick Wolf, impressed by Meloni's acting abilities, signed him up for SVU in 1999, where he has remained ever since. From 1999 to 2003, he appeared on both shows simultaneously. He even returned to his comedic roots when he portrayed the character "Gene" in Wet Hot American Summer in 2001, and the character of "Freakshow" (albeit in heavy make-up) in the 2004 comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. He would make another cameo in its sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, as "The Grand Wizard". Meloni competed in the eighth series of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown, finishing in second place, behind Robin Tunney, and ahead of Macy Gray, Joy Behar, and Andy Dick. He played for Feed the Children. He also appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy! on November 10, 2006, defeating fellow Law & Order stars Sam Waterston and Kathryn Erbe. Meloni split his $50,000 charity prize between the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Program and the Montefiore Advocacy Center.
Meloni was included in the 2006 edition of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive. On July 6, 2006, Meloni was nominated for his first Emmy Award, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for his role as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In July 2009, Meloni portrayed renowned DC Comics character Hal Jordan/Green Lantern in the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Green Lantern: First Flight. He briefly appeared in the first episode of the Comedy Central show Michael & Michael Have Issues portraying himself for a fake movie staring Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter.
Meloni is married to Doris Sherman Williams (a production designer). The couple have two children daughter Sophia Eva Pietra (b. March 23, 2001), and son Dante Amadeo (b. January 2, 2004).
He wears a fake tattoo of the United States Marine Corps emblem (the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor) on his arm for his role in SVU (as seen in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 7 episodes, Season 8, Episode 8: "Underbelly" and Season 6, Episode 5: "Outcry".) He has a real tattoo of a butterfly on his upper thigh, and a cubist representation of the crucifixion of Christ tattooed on his upper left arm. He is also a personal friend and wine drinking buddy of Maynard James Keenan of the progressive rock band Tool.