Franco Nero Franco Nero

Franco Nero will guest-star in the Law & Order: SVU season premiere as an Italian dignitary accused of rape, evoking the Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrest, has learned exclusively.

A source close to the show told that the episode was inspired by the DSK case. (But a spokesperson for Wolf Films wants us to be sure to mention that the show is entirely fictional.)

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The case also may be the first for the new detectives, played by Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish, who will be introduced this season.

Strauss-Kahn, who was head of the International Monetary Fund and considered the front-runner in the French presidential election, was accused of sexually assaulting a maid at a midtown Manhattan hotel in May. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, although he quit his IMF post, and his candidacy was derailed. Subsequently, the case has been shaken as prosecutors said his accuser admitted to lying to a grand jury about events surrounding the attack.

Law & Order vet Linus Roache to reprise role on SVU

The 69-year-old Nero — who was discovered by legendary filmmaker John Huston — is best known for the '60s spaghetti Western Django, 1990's Die Hard 2, (as the villainous Gen. Esperanza) and the 1967 adaptation of the musical Camelot, on which he met future wife Vanessa Redgrave. The two co-starred together last year in Letters to Juliet.

Besides Nero, other guest stars on deck for SVU's new season include Kyle MacLachlan, T.R. Knight and Law & Order vet Linus Roache, who will reprise his role as Michael Cutter in the season opener.

Law & Order: SVU returns Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c on NBC.