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When Mariska Hargitay first played Detective (now Sergeant) Olivia Benson on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in September 1999, Bill Clinton was president. Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace was in theaters. J.K. Rowling had just published Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book in the series.

And when the 17th season of SVU kicked off last month, kids who were babies during that long-ago first season were entering their junior year in high school.

Hargitay is one of the keys to the seemingly endless popularity of the often gut-wrenching crime drama: Her Benson is at once amazingly heroic and totally relatable. She’s the nurturing friend you’d call first when you found out your boyfriend was cheating on you — and the badass cop you’d want in your corner if that boyfriend turned out to like to use his fists.

Hargitay was the first lead actor from any of the behemoth Law & Order franchise series to win an Emmy Award (in 2006), and she earned leading actress Emmy nominations 8 years in a row.

Art and Life

But after all this time, isn’t she ready to try something new? No way. In an era when few people stay in the same job for 5 years, much less 16, Hargitay says she’s just as excited to be playing Benson today as when she auditioned for the show in the spring of 1999. In those days, she was a virtual unknown whose biggest role had been a short-lived stint as Dr. Mark Greene’s girlfriend on the TV medical drama ER.

“That’s a question I get asked a lot, and something I’ve asked myself, but the truth of the matter is that the show feels like a completely new show to me now,” Hargitay says. “We had such a great run for the first 12 years, and then our new showrunner Warren Leight came on board and brought Olivia to incredible new depths. It’s great writing, and that keeps me so invested.”

She admits that she considered leaving SVU when her longtime TV partner, Chris Meloni, moved on in 2011. “When Chris left, I thought, ‘I can’t be on the show without him! We’re partners and we started the show together and we have to finish together.’ But it turned into such a beautiful lesson of life, that things change and they evolve into something different and something beautiful if you let them. And now that I’m directing and producing as well, I have to work harder at it and use very different muscles. There’s so much more for me to learn. All good things have to come to an end at some point, of course, but sometimes when I thought things were over, they just began again.

Read the full article here.

One Response to “Mariska Hargitay Protects and Serves”

  1. Michele Santos da Silva says:

    Law & Order SVU não seria um sucesso se não tivesse a grande estrela Mariska Hargitay interpretando a nossa amada Olivia Benson.
    Foi através de seu personagem que eu consegui superar alguns traumas ao sofrer tentativa de abuso na infância e agressões na escola em minha adolescência.
    Sou grata a sua personagem Olivia Benson pela coragem que demonstra em lutarmos por NÃO MAIS VIOLÊNCIA.

    Obs: Mariska Hargitay é a melhor atriz de todos os tempos, não há e nunca haverá alguém igual a ela.

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