Rey Curtis

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Det. Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis
Law & Order character
Rey Curtis - L&O.png
First appearance "Bitter Fruit"
Last appearance "Refugee (Part 2)"
"Fed" (guest star)
Portrayed by Benjamin Bratt
Time on show 1995–1999, 2009
Seasons 6, 7, 8, 9, 20
Credited appearances 95 episodes (L&O)
3 episodes (HLOTS)
98 episodes (total)
Preceded by Mike Logan
Succeeded by Ed Green
Family Deborah Curtis (wife, deceased)
Olivia Curtis (daughter)
Serena Curtis (daughter)
Isabel Curtis (daughter)
Partner Lennie Briscoe

Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis is a fictional character on the TV drama Law & Order, created by Ed Zuckerman and played by Benjamin Bratt from 1995 to 1999. He appeared in 98 episodes (95 episodes of Law & Order and three episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street). He also appeared in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.

Character overview[edit]

Curtis is introduced as a homicide detective in Manhattan's 27th Detective Squad, the junior partner of Lennie Briscoe.[1] In contrast with his predecessor, Mike Logan, Curtis — a conservative, devout Catholic — does his job by the book, and views it in black and white terms: He believes that if someone breaks the law, he or she deserves to go to jail, regardless of circumstances. This unwavering, moralistic work ethic initially causes friction with Briscoe. Curtis and his wife Deborah were married in 1989 and had three daughters: Olivia (born 1990), Serena (born 1992) and Isabel (born 1994). His sister died in a car accident at the age of 10. Their father often said that there was nothing worse for a parent than outliving his own child. He is of Peruvian, English, Native American and German descent.[2]

In the character's first season on the show, he is rebuked by his superiors on at least four occasions: in the first, Briscoe calls him out for causing a problem with a motorcycle gang member by pulling his gun on him;[3] In the second, Curtis loses his temper with a suspect in the interrogation room and must be removed;[4] In the third, Lieutenant Anita Van Buren reprimands him for allowing a father physically to discipline his son in the interrogation room;[5] And, in the fourth, Van Buren orders him to take the day off after rough conduct at the headquarters.[6]

After about a year on the job, Curtis' values are tested by a series of personal tragedies. Distraught after witnessing the execution of a man he helped prosecute, Curtis cheated on his wife, Deborah, with a college student (played by Jennifer Garner).[7] His indiscretion nearly destroys their marriage, but they repair their relationship after going through marriage counseling. Just as their lives are returning to normal, Deborah is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.[8] Curtis feels responsible, as if God is punishing her for his sins. At this time, he also softens his approach to his work, and Briscoe, who has been through three failed marriages, feels bad for Curtis, and they really start to bond.

By 1999, Deborah's MS has worsened considerably, to the point that she can hardly hold a toothbrush on her own. Curtis takes early retirement to care for her,[9] and is succeeded by Det. Ed Green.[10]

He returns for a brief guest appearance on the December 11, 2009 episode, "Fed," 10 years after his departure from the precinct. The episode reveals that the Curtis family had moved to California some years before. At the time of the episode, Deborah had finally succumbed to MS, and he and his daughters have returned to bury her on Long Island, where she and her family are from. Curtis tells a then ailing Van Buren that Deborah died at home in his arms, and also that he had called and spoken to Briscoe shortly before his death, some years back.


Curtis is politically conservative, disapproving of in vitro fertilization, media violence, and especially affirmative action. Curtis, who is of mestizo origin (Peruvian on his mother's side[11]) feels he has made it on his own merits and resents what he sees as the suggestion that minorities need an added advantage. He is a supporter of former New York Governor George Pataki. However, Curtis in a 1996 episode says that he likes Bob Dole, because he "guarantees four more years of Clinton".[7]

The character introduces a marked step up in the use of technology as an aid to solving crimes. He is the first detective in the series to carry a mobile phone and use a laptop computer. Curtis is considerably more computer-literate than Briscoe; his familiarity with the Internet is the linchpin in solving several cases. He is also the first detective character featured in the Law & Order universe to carry a semi-automatic pistol instead of a revolver. Curtis' duty weapon is a Glock 19.

While sifting through compact discs at an outdoor store at the end of season six, Curtis mentions that he likes the bands Oasis and Big Brother and the Holding Company.[7]

Homicide: Life on the Street appearances[edit]

Curtis appears along with Briscoe on the Homicide: Life on the Street episodes "For God and Country", "Baby, It's You" and "Sideshow", in which they team with John Munch on cases that span from New York to Baltimore.


  1. ^ Law & Order episode "Bitter Fruit".
  2. ^ Law & Order episode "Baby, It's You," originally aired November 12, 1997.
  3. ^ Law & Order episode "Rebels."
  4. ^ Law & Order episode "Savages."
  5. ^ Law & Order episode "Slave."
  6. ^ Law & Order episode "Aftermath."
  7. ^ a b c Law & Order episode "Aftershock," originally aired May 22, 1996.
  8. ^ Law & Order episode "Thrill."
  9. ^ Law & Order episode "Refuge (2)."
  10. ^ Law & Order episode "Gunshow."
  11. ^ Law & Order episode "Corruption".