Natchez native’s son, Cole Ragsdale, on season premiere of Law and Order SVU

Published 8:08 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

NATCHEZ — A young man familiar to many in Natchez will play a key role in the Law and Order SVU season premiere Thursday night on NBC.

Actor Cole Ragsdale, son of Natchez native Palmer Kelley Ragsdale and husband Kirk Ragsdale of Rockwall, Texas, plays an unsavory and pivotal character in the first show of the new season.

“It’s one of those roles you accept because you know someone has to play it. I tried to see the humanity in it. The character is a would-be pedophile,” Ragsdale said.

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“He is a bad guy. He has not acted on his impulses, and you find out in this episode, that he has purchased a sex doll that looks very young. Through the episode, the character finds out the doll is based on a real person.”

Ragsdale said he signed with a new agent right before the Screen Actors Guild strike ended.

“His plan was to get the ball rolling with film and TV auditions. Three days after the strike ended this was my first audition. I made an audition tape with my roommate and about a week later, my agent called me and told me I got the part,” he said.

In Thursday’s Law and Order SVU episode, Ragsdale’s character, after finding out the doll was modeled after a real girl, pays someone to kidnap her.

“He changes his mind in the middle of it all and goes on with his life, but he doesn’t realize it’s too late. The girl comes up missing.”

Ragsdale worked closely with Mariska Hargitay, who plays Capt. Olivia Benson, commanding officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department, in the long-running television series.

Ragsdale and Hargitay’s paths crossed perhaps at the perfect time in his life. Just before set to film the episode, Ragsdale was the victim of a traumatizing random act of violence in New York City.

“Honestly, she was a joy to work with. While I was working with her, I had been through a trauma, and she kind of smelled it on me, and she pulled it out of me and had me tell the production team. It turns out she is a trauma therapist. She gave me all these tips and great advice about moving forward,” he said.

“I booked this role, and then it happened. I woke up in the hospital and called my manager and asked him to see if I could still do it (play the character in Law and Order SVU and they allowed me to do it.”

Also, Ragsdale found out last Friday that he has been booked in his first film role in an upcoming movie.

Ragsdale, who grew up in Rockwall, Texas, has lived in New York since 2014. After graduating from the Boston Conservatory, to pursue his acting career, he knew he had to live in Chicago, Los Angeles or New York.

“I had some good feedback from my showcase and moved to New York and hit the ground running with auditions and it just worked out for me,” he said. “It was the right choice because I just love this city.”

Like most aspiring actors, Ragsdale works several jobs to make ends meet in the city known for its extremely high cost of living.

He has worked for his father’s stone company for eight years now as a draftsman and an estimator. Ragsdale also works in New York as a nanny, entertaining and caring for children.

“I put in 60 hour work weeks every week,” he said.

He also hopes to take a play in which he stars, “Fat Kids Rule the World,” to Broadway one day.

“I play the fat kid,” he said. “It’s kind of been a baby of mine for a long time. I’m not sure what’s happening with it, but I know something will happen. Right now, I’m just happy to be alive and happy to be doing what I’m doing.”