Mariska Hargitay has been playing Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU since 1999, so she's fairly used to getting recognized when she's out and about.
On Chelsea Lately's Tuesday, Feb. 4, episode, she talked about one of her funniest fan encounters with a woman who didn't quite make the connection that Mariska looked like Detective Benson because she actually is the actress who plays her on the show!
During a recent family vacation to the Caribbean, the 50-year-old actress and hubby Peter Hermann went out for a nice dinner at Nobu. When Mariska's man went to the restroom, and she was alone at the table, she said that a woman "leaned over, and she goes, 'You look exactly like the woman on Law & Order—but you're much younger and prettier."
"I'm trying to suss out if she's pulling my leg, or even doing shtick with me or if she's serious," Mariska told Chelsea Handler. "So I said, 'Really?' and she said, 'Yes,' and she goes, 'much younger!'"
Mariska then wondered, "Wow, should I be offended?" before asking the fan, "Really? Much younger and prettier?" The fan said yes, and that Detective Benson was "a little long in the tooth."
The SVU star kept playing along though, asking the fan how old she thought her character was. The response? "She's got to be pushing 60!"
"And I'm sitting there going, 'Wow, you said that out loud,'" Mariska said laughingly, "and that's a little risky! It was so great."
But, she had a sense of humor about fan's awkward gaffe (and the fact that the woman tacked 10 years onto her age). "We ended up talking for a while, and I never told her [who I was]," she said. "And in the end, we picked up her tab, and I said to the waiter, 'Tell her Detective Benson just paid her bill!"
Tune into Chelsea Lately weeknights at 11 p.m. on E!