Will Benson (Mariska Hargitay) ever be the same?
That is the question on Law & Order: SVU fans' minds after last week's shocking season 15 premiere, which featured Detective Olivia Benson being brutally tortured by Billy (Pablo Schreiber). Yes, she eventually escaped and took him down, but she's clearly going to be feeling the effects, physically and emotionally, from the attack for a long time.
E! News recently sat down with Hargitay to talk about how difficult it was to shoot the premiere, admitting to us she questioned whether or not she could get through the grueling four-day shoot. Plus, she also talked to us about her Joyful Heart Foundation, which aims to "heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse."
"It was hard and it was painful and it was scary," Hargitay admits of filming her torture scenes for last week's premiere. "It's one of those scenes where you really don't know what's going to happen until you do it."
Hargitay actually credits Schrieber for pushing her to make the scenes the best it could possibly be. "I had an amazing acting partner. Pablo did the most beautiful work," she gushes. "He was frightening and scary and the irony of all of it is that I really trusted him to be safe. I don't think I could have went as far as I went without knowing I was safe...He challenged me."
While Hargitay says "there are days when people come to our set and they are like, ‘Wow, this is like a sitcom' because all the actors are so hilarious," she reveals that the four-day torture scenes were almost too much for her. "After each day I sort of went, ‘Wow, I gave everything I have physically and emotionally and I don't know if I can climb that mountain.' I was so scared every morning, like, can I do it again? Can I do it again? But as an artist and as an actor, that's where you want to be and I think anything good costs you."
And the NBC hit's star is a hero off-screen as well, raising awareness of domestic violence with her Joyful Heart Foundation and their new NO MORE campaign, whose PSAs feature actors such as Hargitay's former costar Chris Meloni, Amy Poehler, Marcia Gay Harden and many others.
"What the best part is, is that, yes, they're friends, but they're smart friends and they're discerning friends," Hargitay says of the actors' participation in the campaign. "The thing about theses issues is that people aren't talking about them. So when people start talking about them, no one can believe the statistics."
Law & Order: SVU airs tonight on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)